the Job Gets Done
The beginning of this week’s portion discusses the priestly service which began on the eighth day of the inauguration of the Temple. It was on this day that the Shechinah — Divine presence — began dwelling in the Mishkan. On the previous seven days of the inauguration, Moshe erected the Mishkan, performed the entire service, and disassembled the Mishkan.
The Mishkan was a microcosm of the world. The seven days of inauguration represent the seven days of creation. Just as each day had a special role, and special things to bring forth, so too each day of the Mishkan had a special role, culminating in the eighth day.
But why did Moshe need to reassemble the entire Mishkan each day?
In Jewish thought the number eight day connotes something higher than nature. The Mishkan was, by definition, higher than nature, and it was only through Moshe’s daily efforts of erecting and disassembling the Mishkan in its entirety which enabled the Mishkan to be on this high plane — a place set aside in the physical world which is able to have the metaphysical presence of G-d in its midst.
The Talmud explains (Bava Metzia 85b) the greatness of Rebbi Chiya. R’Chiya planted flax, used it to set traps for deer, caught the deer, fed them to orphaned children, used their skin as parchment to write out the Torah, and taught parts of the Torah to each group of children who proceeded to reach other children. In doing so, he guaranteed that the Torah would not be forgotten by the Jewish people.
Would it not have been much easier for R’Chiya to simply purchase ready made food for the children and feed them? Why did he have to bother with the planting of the material for the traps, slaughtering of the animals, etc.?
From this story we learn a crucial point. It is not merely that the job gets done, it is how the job gets done.
In order that the Mishkan be what it was, Moshe had to lovingly set up and take down the Mishkan each day. This showed that each day's work was accomplishing a specific goal. Obviously Moshe could have easily gotten a team of people to help him, but that would have taken away from his devotion to it. The work hard that Moshe put into the Mishkan enhanced the kedusha — special aspect — of it.
R’Chiya knew that in order to perpetuate the Torah among the children of Israel and to make it beloved to them, he had to be personally involved in each step to insure that the proper intent and devotion was inherent in it.
So when we perform mitzvos, we must remember that the means is as important as the end.
Rabbi Jay Spero is the rabbi of the Saranac Synagogue in Buffalo.