Friday, March 8, 2013

Enough, And More

One of my absolute, hands-down, all-time favorite teachings comes out of this week's Torah portion*. In Parashat Vaykhel, we continue to receive instructions about the building of the Tabernacle — the portable sanctuary in the desert. And then, after hearing what was needed to build this holy structure, the people begin offering gifts — donating whatever they had towards the construction. It was Judaism's first Building Fund.

* I learned it, as I learned so much, from Rabbi Larry Kushner. He learned it from his student, Daniel Lehrman.

But, this one goes differently from most. Because, the people actually bring too much – it gets to the point were Moses has to make a proclamation, demanding that people stop bringing gifts*. That episode ends (Exodus 36:7) with the comment, "their efforts had been more than enough for all the tasks to be done."

* It's enough to bring tears to the eyes of synagogue presidents everywhere…

But, that's not exactly what it says. The Hebrew, if read literally (over-literally, really), actually reads, "their efforts have been enough, and more…" A teacher by the nickname Sihot Tsaddadkim  notices a problem with this phrase, "enough, and more." Which was it? Did they bring enough, or did they bring more? The Torah (so rabbinic thinking goes) is always precise, saying exactly what it means, never wasting a word, or even a letter. So, this can't be mere idiom — but, how else can we understand it?

His answer? They only had enough because they had more than enough.

Imagine for a moment that they collected precisely enough for the building. Take away one gold coin, 1 yard of fabric, one dolphin skin,*  and they wouldn't have enough. The project couldn't be completed. That would mean that each and every person who donated could look at the final tabernacle and say, "It couldn't have been done without me." It would have been a recipe for arrogance, self-importance and ego gratification.

* don't ask...

And then it wouldn't be a holy building.

True holiness demands (among other things) a minimization of ego, and a smallness of self. An understanding that, in the grand scheme of things, we ain't all that impressive. Or, to put it a bit differently, we're only going to be able to worship one thing in this Tabernacle. And, we want to make sure that we're worshiping God, not ourselves.

Each person who contributed to this sacred project knew that they were important, but also knew that they weren't essential. That the project could have been done without them. Therefore, when they entered the Tabernacle, they couldn't possibly think of themselves as essential. They were forced to be, in a word, humble. Then, and only then, would they have any hope, any prayer, of approaching God.  Arrogance and holiness are mutually contradictory. We really do have to choose — are we going to worship ourselves, or we going to worship God?

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hi there, just wanted to tell you, I loved this article.

It was helpful. Keep on posting!

Visit my blog post; how to launch a business idea
My website :: online businesses

Anonymous said...

Hey very interesting blog!

Stop by my site :: private zusatzversicherung krankenkasse
My website - business start up ideas

Anonymous said...

If you are going for best contents like me, simply visit this website everyday for the reason that it gives feature contents, thanks

my blog seo service packages
Also see my site :: internet marketing and seo company

Anonymous said...

Hello everybody, here every one is sharing these knowledge, therefore it's good to read this weblog, and I used to pay a quick visit this weblog daily.

Here is my blog post; free clickbank software

Anonymous said...

Hi everybody, here every one is sharing these experience, therefore it's nice to read this blog, and I used to pay a quick visit this web site everyday.

Have a look at my web blog cosolidation loan
my page :: private school loans consolidation

Anonymous said...

This design is spectacular! You definitely know how to keep a reader entertained.
Between your wit and your videos, I was almost moved to start my own blog (well, almost.
..HaHa!) Wonderful job. I really loved what you had to say, and more than that, how you
presented it. Too cool!

My site :: bad credit refinance mortgage lenders
my web page :: bad credit refinance Mortgage

Anonymous said...

Link exchange is nothing else but it is simply placing the
other person's website link on your page at proper place and other person will also do similar in favor of you.

Feel free to visit my site; all inclusive beach vacation

Anonymous said...

Hello there! This article couldn't be written any better! Looking through this post reminds me of my previous roommate! He continually kept talking about this. I most certainly will forward this article to him. Pretty sure he will have a great read. Thank you for sharing!

my page; how do you get a home equity loan

Anonymous said...

Greetings! Very helpful advice in this particular post!
It is the little changes which will make the
greatest changes. Thanks for sharing!

Here is my blog: krankenkasse g√ľnstig

Anonymous said...

Heya i'm for the first time here. I came across this board and I find It truly useful & it helped me out a lot. I hope to give something back and help others like you helped me.

Feel free to surf to my web blog - seo expert for hire

Anonymous said...

I am glad magnificent advertisment! I seriously appreciated analyzing doing it, tonsil stone you will be a good article author.I most certainly will be sure to bookmark your items your blog post Satellite direct review and can generally return down the road. I have to really encourage you will continue on any excellent blogposts, contain a good family trip penis advantage weekend break!