Topic: Well Being | Posted:February 26, 2014
In three months, all the work of building the Tabernacle, the Mishkan, is finished, and the Israelites are waiting for it to be put together. They go to the builders and say, “You’ve built all the pieces, why are you sitting? We are all waiting. Put together this Tabernacle. We’re waiting for the miracles to start, for the Light of the Creator to come.” They do everything they can; they spend hours trying to put the pieces together, but it is like a puzzle that doesn’t fit. And every time they think they have it, it collapses. Even Bezalel and Oholiav, the master architects, try but can’t do it.
So, the Midrash asks, why weren’t they able to put the Tabernacle together? What is the reason? The reason was because, the Midrash tells us, Moses was feeling great pain. He did not take part in either giving materials towards the Mishkan or in the physical building of any of the pieces of the Mishkan, and this brought him great pain. And because Moses was in pain, the Creator made it so that nobody could figure out how to put ittogether.
When everybody gave up hope, they began to realize that since nobody else could do it, maybe Moses could. They said to him, “Everything you told us to do, we’ve done. Everything you told us to give, we gave.” They literally brought every piece before Moses and showed them to him asking if they were made correctly. Moses looked over every piece and told them everything had been done exactly as he had instructed. So they asked him why, then, if they had made every single piece exactly the way he had told them to, were the pieces not fitting together to build the Tabernacle?
So, now Moses, in addition to being sad about the fact that he was not able to participate in the building of the pieces of the Mishkan, is also upset that the instructions he gave don’t seem to work. And because of Moses’ pain, the Creator says, “I want you to lift the Tabernacle and put it together. Everybody is going to see that if not for you, this Mishkan can’t be built.”
But the kabbalists teach that Moses still wasn’t able to do it! When he comes to the Creator and says, “I don’t know how to do it,” the Creator answers, “Don’t worry. You’ll fake it. You’ll act as if you’re putting together the Mishkan, and I’ll do all the work.” It’s a very strange situation. On the one hand the Creator is saying to Moses, “I want you to do something,” however, on the other hand Moses can’t do it and the Creator says, “Don’t worry. Fake it. I’ll do the work.” Yet, if Moses’ pain came from the fact that he wasn’t involved in building the Tabernacle, how does that solution solve his pain, since he is still not technically doing it? What’s the lesson here?
The purpose of the Mishkan was to be a place where the Light of the Creator can rest, and from where the entire world, every single person, can receive Light. The Tabernacle needed to be something that will last forever, and the Creator wanted to teach the Israelites and us - through them - that if there is no pain, then whatever we are doing can’t last forever.
The Israelites gave all their gold and silver, and worked 24 hours a day for three months straight. They put in a lot of difficult effort. But for something to last forever, effort is not enough. There has to be pain in the process. And I’m not talking about pain like a person yelling in physical pain or a person beating himself up with a bat, I’m talking about a person stepping past where he is comfortable.
We know there were two main times when a physical place was built where the Light of the Creator can rest, and comparing this building of the Tabernacle with the Temple built by Solomon, which involved more effort? The building of the Beit HaMikdash, of the Temple of Solomon. But, which one does it say remains forever? The Tabernacle. It says the building of the Mishkan lasts to this day, because it was built based on the pain of Moses.
So when it says that Moses didn’t really even lift up the Mishkan, that the Creator built it, it means that what built the Mishkan was the pain that Moses felt in not being able to participate. Therefore, the question we have to ask ourselves is not how much effort we put in, but how much pain we are putting in. And this is true not just in spiritual matters, but in every area of our life. What we have to learn on this Shabbat is that the question isn’t how much effort am I investing, it’s how much pain am I investing?
Unfortunately, if you are investing effort, and the blessings are coming and you are satisfied, you don’t even know that there’s no way it’s going to last. There are many people who are serious about their spiritual work, but they’re not at the point where they are willing and desiring to invest pain. For most of us, pain is just one level beyond where we’re comfortable.
Whether it’s with your children, your relationship, or your connection to the Light of the Creator, if you are not finding ways to invest pain into your work, you might get a little bit of a blessing. You might even get a blessing that lasts for a year or five years, but it will never last forever. However, we have the ability to make sure that every important endeavor, every important thing that we are doing can last forever, just like the Tabernacle - its Light - lasts forever.
On this Shabbat of Pekudei, ask yourself: how can I invest pain into my relationship, into my spiritual work, into every area of my life? I know “pain” is a big, scary word – oh no, I don’t want to feel pain - but pain simply means doing what is just one, two, or three steps past where you’re comfortable. And if you do that consistently, if you find ways in all of these important areas of your life to take those steps past where it’s comfortable, then you can be guaranteed that what you are doing and building in every area of your life can last forever.