The First Tzedaka Campaign

In this week’s Parsha we find the first Tzedaka campaign ever, the money raised for the Mishkan. But in one way it is the last one of its kind. Since when the goal was actually reached, it says that the managers of the campaign- Betzalel and the חכמי לב – come to Moshe and say that the people are bringing TOO MUCH! What does that mean? And why do they tell the people to stop?

The Sfas Emes explains that there is a tremendous principle here. The wisdom of the people making the Mishkon was also that they could see the level of Kedusha in each person’s donation and would direct each donation to its proper place. When they saw that the enthusiasm of the people was so overwhelming and extending too far, they were afraid that it was coming not from the correct place. Therefore, they said, better to stop now when they are still LShem Shamayim.

We can compare this to the way the Rambam describes the cycle of Ahavas HaShem and Yiras HaShem. A person begins by seeing the tremendous gifts that HaShem gives him. He comes closer and closer in his love to HaShem. Till at a certain point, he realizes how close he is to the awesome overwhelming Creator of the entire world and jumps back in fear and awe and reverence. So too, when we serve HaShem fi we too enthusiastic, we need to check is it coming from service of HaShem or from our own desires to do something?

The story is told that when R Chaim Volohzin desired to open the Yeshiva he approached his Rebbe the GRA with great enthusiasm about his new project. The GRA did not seem to share his enthusiasm, and R Chaim disappointedly withdrew. A few years later he broached the idea again in a calmer way and the GRA gave his approval. Asked R Chaim’ “Rebbe, what is different?” the response was that when there so much enthusiasm the GRA was afraid that the Yetzer HaRa was involved. Now that it is being presented calmly he knows it comes from a good place.

And that is the understanding of the following Pasuk

וְהַמְּלָאכָה הָיְתָה דַיָּם לְכָל הַמְּלָאכָה לַעֲשׂוֹת אֹתָהּ וְהוֹתֵר:

What does it mean that there was enough and left over; is that not a contradiction?

Answers the Sfas Emes that a person when he has a tremendous desire to serve HaShem, not all of it needs to come out. You need to save part of it inside you, and that is the most powerful part which is inside and not let loose. In a sense a stretched rubber band is more powerful than one that already snapped.

I heard from More V Rebbe Shlita in the name of the Ponivizher Rav: There is a Midrash that the glow of Moshe Rabbeinu’s face was from the drop of ink left in the quill that was used to write the Torah. When you hold back a potential it will come out in an even more powerful way.

May we be Zoche to have within us the spiritual wellsprings, and we wise enough to know how to direct those tremendous powers.


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