In this week’s Torah portions, Vayakhel and Pekudei, we once again conclude the book of Shemos-Exodus, also known as the Book of Redemption. The Redemption, our journey to freedom and nationhood began with the Exodus from Egypt, peaked at the Revelation at Sinai where we received the Ten Commandments and the Torah, and culminated with the construction of the Mishkan (Sanctuary), where the Shechinah, Divine Presence, would rest and dwell, so to speak.
Therein lays the story of the book of Exodus and the formation of our nation. Born in the crucible of Egypt, we emerged as a people, we accepted the Torah, and we built a Sanctuary for infinity.
The Mishkan, and its implements, were constructed of materials donated by the people: gold, silver, copper, wools, linen, animal hides, wood, spices, oils, precious gems. However much each person wanted to donate, that’s what he did. He who wanted to give more did so, and he who wanted to give less, did so as well. However, the people wanted so badly to give to the collection to build the Mishkan that at the end of the donating period, there was too much!
“And they said to Moshe: the people exceeded in bringing, more than the labor of the work that Hashem had commanded to perform; And Moshe commanded, and they proclaimed in the camp saying: Man and woman shall not do more work toward the portion of the Sanctuary! And the nation held back from bringing (more).”
And the work was enough for them to do it – and there was extra (Shemos 36:5-7). “And the work was enough… and there was extra.” Those words are contradictory. The Ohr Ha’Chaim asks: What is to be learned from this apparent contradiction? Was there just enough material donated to build the Mishkan? Or was there extra material donated, and amassed, with which to build the Mishkan? Having enough and having extra are not necessarily the same thing.
He answers that: This teaches us how beloved the Jewish people are in G-d’s eyes. Because the people brought more than what was needed, G-d was concerned for the dignity of each person who made the effort to donate. In order that no person feels that his efforts were in vain, G-d made it that everything brought for the work of the Mishkan miraculously fit, and nothing was unused. Hence, even though in reality, there was extra, G-d made it all fit, so it seemed as if there was exactly enough!
From G-d who teaches Torah to His people – we learn a tremendous lesson and moral. So often in life, those around us – be it children, family members, students, friends, neighbors – want to help out, for one reason or another. Sometimes, we need their help, and the truth of the matter is that sometimes we do not. But more than if their help is needed, we should ask ourselves: how much do they want to give?
While it might be easier to bake the cake without the child helping, how much does the child want to help his mother bake? Sure there's enough without him; but with his assistance, there's extra. Extra flour, maybe; extra sugar, perhaps; extra oil – oy vey! Extra love – for sure. The enough and extra in regard to the Mishkan teaches us G-d’s love for us -the children of Israel. While the extra was not needed, G-d found room for it all.
While we often have enough in life, it behooves us to make room for the extra. When those around us want to help, offer assistance, and contribute from their lives and selves, we must strive to include their offers and assistance in our lives. For, while we might just have enough on our own, this cannot compare to having extra to fill our homes, our lives, our very selves. If G-d, who needs nothing from us miraculously ensured that the extra was incorporated and all donations were used, then we can surely do the same, as we go in His ways and emulate His deeds (see Sotah 14a).
In the merit of including others, as we all work together to build a house for Hashem, may we be worthy of the ultimate redemption. For on that great day, when the Temple is once again rebuilt, perhaps we will merit to witness the majestic vision atop Mount Moriah once again: when extra will become enough and enough will become perfect for all.