Then they brought the tabernacle to Moses: the tent and all its furnishings, its clasps, frames, crossbars, posts and bases. — Exodus 39:33
The Torah portion for this week is a double reading, Vayakhel-Pekudei, from Exodus 35:1–40:38. Vayakhel means “assembled,” and Pekudei means “counting.” The Haftorah is from 1 Kings 7:51–8:21.
Sometimes it feels as though the load we have been given to carry is too much to bear. We say, “God, I can’t carry this alone!” To which He always replies, “And you don’t have to.” As the saying goes, “If God’s will brought you to it, His grace will see you through it!”
The building of the Tabernacle, mishkan, was a group effort. It took three months and an entire nation to complete it. Everyone gave “from what they had” (Exodus 35:4) and did what they could do. Once all the parts had been made by the various groups of people, everything was brought to Moses. God gave Moses the honor of putting it all together. Moses would be the one to actually erect the mishkan. Two years after the children of Israel had left Egypt, the mishkan was just about ready.
There was just one problem. Moses assessed the situation and realized that it would be physically impossible for him to erect the mishkan alone. He was in his 80s after all! The Jewish sages teach that Moses asked God: “How will I do this?” God replied, “You make the effort and go through the motions, and then the mishkan, by way of a miracle, will erect itself.” And that’s exactly what happened.
This behind-the-scenes look at the building of the mishkan gives us an invaluable message for each stage of our lives. We, too, need to go through the motions when it comes to doing God’s work. We cannot run away from our mission – we have to embrace it and give it our best shot. But we don’t have to do it all alone either. The sages teach that God says to each of us: “Open for Me a space the size of a needle and I will open for you an expanse the size of an entrance to a hall.” In other words: Do your best, and I, God, will do the rest.
As we go through this day, remember that we not alone and have not been given a burden which we cannot carry. God is ready and willing to help us at every moment. All we need to do is ask; together with God, there isn’t anything we can’t bear — or do!
With prayers for shalom, peace,
Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein
Founder and President