09 Mar IT ALL FITS LIKE A PUZZLE
Parashat Pekudeh begins with a detailed accounting of the precious metals that were donated for the Mishkan, and how were they used. The Torah tells us exactly how much gold, silver and copper was donated, and how much of it was used for which parts of the Mishkan. It says, ¨ןכשמה†≠ידוקפ†הלא†תודעה†ןכשמ†– “This is the accounting of the Mishkan, the Mishkan of testimony.”
Why is the Mishkan called תודעה†ןכשמ†– “the Mishkan of testimony”? What does the Mishkan testify to? And what does this have to do with the accounting of the materials?
The Gemara teaches that Betzalel, the head craftsman who was in charge of this project, knew “how to combine the letters with which heaven and earth were created.” Meaning, his ability to build the Mishkan was somewhat similar to the ability to create the world. In some way, the creation of the Mishkan resembled the creation of the universe. How?
I once had the opportunity to go on a safari in South America, where I saw a number of truly amazing things. One thing I saw was a herd of buffalo walking in the mud, and one buffalo had a large, open bruise on its back. I watched as a bird flew down from the sky and planted itself on the buffalo’s back. It then started pecking at the bruise.
“Wow,” I said to my tour guide. “That’s terrible! The poor buffalo!”
“No, you don’t understand,” the tour guide said. “The bird feeds off the blood coming out of the wound, and in so doing, the bird cleans the wound so it won’t get infected.”
Hashem runs the world in perfect fashion. It might seem as though everything is a mess, and there are open “wounds” which are getting worse, but in truth, everything is perfect. Everything that happens is just part of Hashem’s grand plan, and He puts it all together like pieces of a puzzle.
Here in Parashat Pekudeh, the Torah is telling us that everything donated for the Mishkan was put together perfectly. Every ounce of metal was EXACTLY what was needed. Every bit of it was used. It all fit together to perfection.
In this sense, the Mishkan is תודעה†ןכשמ, a “testimony.” It testifies to the way the world runs, that everything – somehow, in some way, and at some time – falls perfectly into place. We might not see it right away, but eventually, everything works out exactly the way it’s supposed to.
One of the projects I’m involved in is a nighttime learning program for young men. After starting this project and working very hard to get it going, one of the best Rabbis we had learning with the boys decided to leave and start his own program. I was not angry at him for leaving, but I was so upset. I was trying so hard to get the program to take off, and now I was losing our greatest asset. In the end, our program took off and was a great success, and his program took off and was a great success. And, in fact, he was able to reach out to boys whom I would not have been able to reach. I was so upset at the time, but in the end, everything worked out.
When I first started teaching at Magen David, there was a group of especially motivated students who would come to my home to learn one evening a week. They grew and progressed – and eventually they all decided to leave the school and go somewhere else where they felt they could learn more. I was proud of them, but I was devastated, losing these outstanding students.
Fast forward seven years – one of these boys married my daughter!
When things don’t go the way we want, we need to have patience, optimism, and faith in Hashem, trusting that in the end, everything will somehow work out. Even if the puzzle pieces now seem all jumbled, eventually, they will all fit into place, because each and every one is an integral part of Hashem’s master plan for our lives, and for the world.