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Posted on February 24, 2022 (5782) By Rabbi Yitzchok Adlerstein | Series: | Level:

Every man whose heart inspired him came…[2]

Ramban explains the nature of this inspiration. No one, he said, had previously learned the techniques required to build a mishkan and its kelim. There was no one around who could even guide the eager student. Some people simply found within themselves that they would be able to perform new, difficult tasks. They were inspired to come forward and tell Moshe, “I can do it! Whatever you say, I can do it!”

You’ll find the same attitude among the real successes in the business world. Most got to the top on the strength of their initiative. Without a strong sense of initiative, it is impossible to achieve anything! Similarly, the craftsmen who contributed to the mishkan project all possessed initiative and drive. They responded to hearts that told them that they needed to be part of this opportunity to provide and abode for the Shechinah. They were able to say, “Yes I can” – without anything to support their confidence other than their determination.

Shlomo told the laggard, “Go to the ant…see its ways and grow wise.”[3] The ant, says a midrash,[4] has no authority figure standing over it. It builds an abode of several chambers. It toils incessantly in the summer, gathering all the grain it can find. All this, even though it lives only for six months, and is nourished by a single wheat grain and a half. They once measured the lair of an ant, and found three hundred kur of wheat that it had gathered before the winter!

Why does the ant toil, continues the midrash, beyond its apparent need? Because perhaps G-d will give it longer life! The ant’s abilities are few, and yet its determination is great. The lazy person, whose capabilities are many, should certainly shake off his sloth, and act with initiative and determination to use them properly. Otherwise, he will set a goal of only achieving a grain and a half, where he should have produced 300 kur!

When Moshe approached the Burning Bush, he hid his face[5] – out of reverence for the Shechinah that revealed itself there. (The Torah says this explicitly: “Because he was afraid to stare at G-d.”) Such behavior is entirely appropriate. Yet a midrash[6] still finds fault with Moshe for turning aside, when he had an opportunity to comprehend much more about Elokus. Years later, Moshe would beg Hashem, “Please show me Your kavod.”[7] Hashem would chide him. “I was ready to show Myself to you at the Burning Bush, and you hid your face. Now I tell you that no man can see Me and live.

We find it difficult to determine just what Moshe could have done differently. Chazal, however, with their ruach hakodesh, detected a tiny flaw of insufficient determination in Moshe, for which he later paid a heavy price.

We are not Moshe Rabbenu, but drive, initiative, determination play outsize influences in our lives as well.

  1. Based on Daas Torah by Rav Yeruchem Levovitz zt”l, Shemos pgs. 348-349
  2. Shemos 35:21
  3. Mishlei 6:6
  4. Devarim Rabbah 5:2
  5. Shemos 3:6
  6. Shemos Rabbah 3:1
  7. Shemos 33:18