Parshas Pekudai

The Mishkan and the Two Doors to Adore

by Rav Brazil

The passuk says ויקם משה את המשכן ויקם את עמודיו Moshe Rabbeinu erected the Mishkan and its pillars. On this the Medrash Tanchuma comments

אמר משה רבש"ע איני יודע להעמידו אמר ליה עסוק בידיך ואתה מראה להעמידו והוא עומד מאליו ואני כותב עליך שאתה הקימותו שנאמר ויהי בחדש הראשון בשנה השנית באחד לחדש הוקם המשכן ומי העמידו משה שנאמר ויקם משה את המשכן

Moshe Rabbeinu was asked by Hashem to erect the Mishkan and he replied that he doesn't know how to achieve it. Hashem told him you just go through the motions with your hands and it will automatically erect itself. Nevertheless, I will write in the Torah that it was you Moshe who erected the Mishkan.

Rav Chaim Shmulevitz ztl explains the Medrash as follows. True that the erection of the Mishkan was a miracle. However miracles occur parallel to the amount of sacrifice and intention that the individual invests in the mitzvah. Moshe Rabbeinu toiled to erect the Mishkan with super effort and sacrifice even though deep down he knew that it was physically impossible to do so. Because he desired so much to fulfill Hashem's words, Hashem made the miracle for him and gave to him all the credit for erecting it. The miracle had to happen for there was no other reality. It was Moshe who earned the ownership of this incredible feat by his deep commitment and dedication to fulfill Hashem's wishes to the point when there was not even an ounce of strength left in Moshe making the erecting of the Mishkan humanly impossible. Hashem telling Moshe to place his hand on the walls at the time of its erection, was not merely ceremonial. Rather it was to display that you did the most that you can do in the situation and therefore it is deemed as if you alone was erecting the Mishkan wall.

What comes to mind is the statement of Rabbe Tarfon at the last Mishnah of perek 2 Pirkei Avos לא עליך המלאכה לגמור and also לא אתה בן חורין להבטל ממנה . "It is not incumbent for you to finish the work yet you are not free from toiling on it". We must remember that our "work" in this world is ruchniyus Torah and Mitzvos. It possesses a spiritual character other worldly. This reality tells us that we can never finish such a melacha no matter how much we try since we are physical entities and earthly. Am Yisrael always needs Hashem's aid to make it happen. Every beracha before fulfilling a mitzvah we recite אשר קדשנו במצוותיו וצונו the fact that we are ready and prepared to fulfill a mitzvah we have already been infused kedusha to help us fulfill it. We cannot do it without Hashem's intervention yet Hashem considers our fulfillment as if we did it without a partner.

The passuk says Tehillim 62 13 לך ד' החסד כי אתה תשלם לאיש כמעשהו to you Hashem there is chesed for you will pay a person according to his deeds. Many ask why is this called chesed and not din? They answer payment of reward for mitzvos and Torah is still a chesed because Hashem was actually your partner in every endeavor. Yet he will pay you not as your partner but rather as an individual who performed the entire mitzvah alone - כמעשהו.

It is very interesting that the gematriah of ישראל is identical to the Mishnah of Rabbe Tarfon that לא עליך המלאכה לגמור. This concept only applies to a Yid because he possesses a neshamah which is eternal and the Torah and Mitzvos are eternal, and the reward for them is eternal. Since the Torah and Hashem and Yisrael are one we need Hashem in order to fufill the eternal Torah.

A similar spectacular event to the above is the story of Neekanor and the doors to the Beis Hamikdash (Yuma 38).. He went to bring copper doors from Alexandria Egypt for the eastern entrance to the courtyard of the Beis Hamidash. On his return a storm threatened to drown the ship. The sailors took one of the door and threw it overboard to lighten the ship but it was to no avail. The sailors were ready to throw the second door into the waters when suddenly Neekonar hugged the door and said, "You will have to throw me into the sea with it". Immediately the storm terminated. Neekonar was pained over the loss of the first door. As soon as they came to the port of Acre he couldn't believe his eyes, for he saw the first door poking out from under the ship. Others interpreted the miracle to be that when the first door was thrown into the sea a huge creature swallowed it and spit it up by the shore. Therefore all the gates that were in the Mikdash were made from gold except these two doors which were made from copper due to the great miracle that happened to them.

Rav Chaim Shmulevitz asked we can understand why the second copper door was salvaged because Neekanor was willing to sacrifice his life over it. The question is why was the first door miraculously salvaged? What extraordinary act did Neekanor do in order to be deserving of such a great miracle? He answers that at the moment he hugged the second door declaring his willingness to die over it because of which the stormed abruptly receded, he was overcome with great remorse over the fact that he failed to act so over the first door and he could have saved both for the Beis Hamikdash. The remaining part of the journey home, the pain over the Beis Hamikdash's loss was relentless. The grief experience over the loss of the first door was deemed in heaven as tantamount to sacrificing his life for the first door and therefore deserving that even the first door should be saved by a great miracle.

In the second scenario with Neeknar we can glean an insight which we do not see from the episode of Moshe and the Mishkan. That a deep remorse over the lack of action or response can merit one that it nevertheless can be rectified by the pain alone and deemed a self sacrifice to its fullest degree.

Shlomo Hamelech Mishlei 8,34 writes אשרי אדם שומע לי לשקוד על דלתותי יום יום happy is the man who listens to me and is diligent concerning my doors daily. What doors is Shlomo Hamelech referring to? The Sfas Emes וילך תרלז writes that this passuk is referring to the gates of teshuvah. We can apply this thought to the story of Neeknor. Sometimes we do a wrong deed or an omission of a mitzvah. That door of rectification becomes a missed opportunity and seems lost forever. הפותח שער לדופקי בתשובה yet we find that Hashem opens the closed door if we knock on it to do complete teshuvah. In the case of Neekanor he realized from the episode with the second door that he lost the opportunity of saving the first door. Had he reacted with the knowledge that he acquired with the second door, even the first door could have been saved. He didn't say to himself let bygones be lost. Instead he toiled with pain to ensure that this scenario or something similar to this will never ever happen again to the point that his reaction would be instinctive rather than a mental choice chosen. When Hashem so his teshvuah He opened the door for him enabling him to see testimony from Hashem that even this closed door has opened for him with a miracle.

This is the event that Shlomo Hamelech is referring to when he writes Happy is the man who is diligent every day with the episode of My Two Doors. It was these two doors that constantly teach us the lesson that everything can be fixed up even missed opportunities or wrong responses to situations, as long as we make the cheshbon hanefesh and attain a deep remorse and conviction that the next time the our response will the correct one. Hashem is willing to even make a miracle in order to prove that your remorse over your shortcoming was with mesiras nefesh.

Rabbe Tarfon also said in the same Mishnah לא אתה בן חורין להבטל that a Yid must be employed and not free himself from toiling on the fulfillment of the Torah and Mitzvos. It is Shabbos that plays the role of a partner to make one aware of his obligation. For during the week when one works he might have an excuse on his minimum input concerning ruchniyus is his daily life. However when Shabbos comes and one is prohibited from physically running his business and mentally thinking about his work, he has the time and the head to learn and to work on his mission and purpose of being created as part of Am Yisrael. That is why we find the gematriah יום השבת equals לא אתה בן חורין . Even more so, Shabbos shows us that even when we work in business we are still working for Hashem fulfilling the Four Chekai Shulchan Aruch.