Weekly Torah Commentary — Pekudei February 28, 2014

Exodus 38:21-40:38

This week’s Torah portion has a profound message about spiritual effort.

Once the Tabernacle was completed, God granted to Moshe the honor of erecting it. However, the sheer weight of it was daunting. So God told Moshe to attempt to erect it, and a miracle would ensue. The Tabernacle would erect itself with Moshe’s “effort” and it would appear to onlookers as though Moshe erected it single-handedly.

This incident presents a difficulty: How could Moses be given credit for erecting the Tabernacle when he actually didn’t do it? How are we to understand this?

In reality you and I are only able to perform any mitzvah because God enables us to do so; He is constantly sustaining the world and every human being in it. Without this divine enabling, we would not be able to do anything. The only difference between Moshe in this incident and ourselves is that the erecting of the Tabernacle was a visible miracle while every good deed you and I do is something of a ‘hidden’ miracle. The reward that we receive is not because of the actual result but because of the effort that we make.

In our more lucid moments, we all realize that we do not have the ability to achieve anything in the physical world without God. That being so, why do we swamp ourselves with so much activity?

After Adam’s sin, God decreed that man must exert physical effort in order to survive. Man’s daily life became a partnership between himself and God. We put forth the effort, trusting in Hashem to do what we cannot do and provide that which we need, making our efforts productive.

The principle carries over into our spirituality as well. Becoming a deeply spiritual person is not automatic; nor is it the result of simply external observances. First we must choose – with our will – to want to be a tzaddik (a righteous, holy person), and then on a daily basis make the continuing choices that reflect that overall goal, all the while trusting in God to do what only He can do within us to transform us into godly individuals.

Effort is a topic more easily discussed than lived. Man has an instinctive tendency toward laziness as well as procrastination. We also tend to be easily distracted from our priorities by the pressure of the “urgent”, whatever that may be at any given time. We need to realize that the pressure of the “urgent” can easily rob us of the really “important.”

There is no shortcut to holiness. It is the fruit of daily effort, a heart that is quick to repent as necessary, and a deep trust in God’s faithfulness to fulfill His promise: “If you seek Me with all your heart, you shall surely find Me.”

Throughout his life, Moses was willing to extend great effort to fulfill God’s will. As a result God gave him the ability to achieve superhuman results such as lifting the beams of the Mishkan. We can learn from this that what God requires is that we make the effort; the results are in His hands.

In Tune with Torah this week = faith is not an excuse for laziness; nor does it relieve us of responsiblity. Just the opposite. True faith is evidenced by a life that demonstrates the will and the ways of God.

Shabbat Shalom

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