The weekly reading begins with “These are the accounts of the Tabernacle…” (38:21). The Midrash tells us that the first word, “Eleh [these]” are closely connected to another “Eleh” – “These are your leaders, Israel…” This latter “Eleh” was said about the Golden Calf by those who followed it, claiming it as a replacement for Moshe. Although this was a severe transgression, we were able to repent for it and turn back to G-d. Hashem said to Israel, “With one ‘eleh‘ you angered Me, and with the other you will appease Me.” We were forgiven because the same enthusiasm was found in the latter as for the first – just as we ran to follow the Golden Calf, we ran to donate to and build the Tabernacle.
The Moreshes Moshe (quoted in “Peninim on the Torah“) explains that success in anything is determined not only by what is done, but how. Drive and enthusiasm are essential for success. Leadership is reserved for those who actually “live” their work.
So too, those who claim “success” in spiritual endeavors are those who devote themselves to it wholeheartedly. If we put our fullest energies into everything else that we do, but then devote little energy to Torah study, going to classes, or whatever else that we do for our Judaism… then it is hard for us to look back and say that we have truly grown to our fullest potential. It is drive and determination that make it possible for us to move mountains – even those mountains that reside within us.
Text Copyright © 1995 Rabbi Yaakov Menken and Project Genesis, Inc.
The author is the Director of Project Genesis.