Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Terumah 5631 Second Ma'amar

In this week’s parsha, God describes the Mishkan and its utensils to Moshe Rabeinu. The Midrash tells us that because Moshe Rabeinu had difficulty understanding the intricacies of the Menorah, God showed him a virtual Menorah. Even so, Moshe Rabeinu found it too difficult so God told him to throw a talent of gold into the fire for Him to fashion.

The Sfas Emes asks that if Moshe Rabeinu could not make the Menorah why did God bother showing it to him in the first place? God, after all, certainly knew that this was beyond Moshe Rabeinu’s capabilities. The Sfas Emes explains that it was crucial for Moshe Rabeinu to desire to make the Menorah, even if he could not. God showed Moshe Rabeinu a virtual Menorah so that he would know what he must desire. Moshe Rabeinu then did whatever he could to the best of his ability. Because of Moshe Rabeinu’s desire to see the completed Menorah, God helped and finished the job.

The Sfas Emes says that this is an important lesson that applies to every Jew and to every mitzvah for we certainly do not have the power to achieve the will of God. How could we? God is infinite and we are finite. However, we are required to yearn to achieve the will of God and to work towards that goal to the best of our abilities. The will of God is attained, with God’s help even if it is beyond our capabilities, according to the intensity of our desire.

Along these same lines the Chidushei HaRim explains a Gemara in Maseches Megillah. Rebbi Yitzchak says that if one will tell you that he worked hard in Torah and he found success, believe him (יגעתי ומצאתי תאמין). The Chidushei HaRim points out the incongruity in Rebbi Yitzchak’s words. Rebbi Yitzchak’s choice of words connotes a found item. Chazal tell us that items are found unintentionally (ג' באין בהיסח הדעת ... מציאה), the opposite of focused work towards a goal. Conventionally, if a person works hard and says that he succeeded and realized his goal, we tend to believe him. Why does Rebbi Yitzchak say, “he found success”?

The Chidushei HaRim answers that Rebbi Yitzchak is teaching us a profound lesson about success in Torah. The reality is that an understanding of the ultimate truth in the Torah is beyond our capabilities. The only way to reach this understanding is for it to be given to us. Rebbi Yitzchak is teaching us that God gives the gift of understanding the Torah to those who try hard to acquire it.

We see this clearly when Moshe Rabeinu ascended Mount Sinai to receive the Torah. He worked hard. He did not eat or drink for forty days. At the end of the forty days the pasuk relates, ויתן אל משה ... שתי לחת העדת/He gave Moshe … the two tablets of testimony …” The Midrash says that the Torah was given to Moshe Rabeinu as a gift.

When it comes to serving God, He helps us to attain goals that are beyond our abilities. The key to success is the desire for it.

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