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Vayikra: Etching Emunah in Life

Miriam Aflalo

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

“… like all Hashem had commanded Moshe” (Shemos 39:1).

The Midrash gives a mashal: A king commanded his servants to build him a palace. Upon completion, his servants went and wrote the word “King” on all the windows, doors, and walls. Why? To increase the honor of the king.

This parable needs explanation. Moshe did not write anything anywhere. The pasuk only states that Moshe did exactly what Hashem commanded him. So what’s the comparison?

Halachah states that if a person starts a mitzvah and plans from the onset that he is doing it l’Shem Shamayim, then that intention remains for the duration of the mitzvah. It is not necessary to continue to state “l’shem mitzvah” throughout each stage of the mitzvah.

Not so with emunah. In this area, the tests are so great and the obstacles are too many.

When Moshe erected the Mishkan, he was not performing an action of mitzvah. Rather, he was building a place that the Shechinah would rest and thereby reveal the honor of the Creator. Therefore, Moshe connected the name of Hashem with every action of the construction, in order to maximize the honor of Hashem. (Rav Shach, Meirosh Emunah)

I viciously poked the omelet in the frying pan, waiting for my husband to respond to my question.

“What did the other side say already? We’ve been waiting almost two weeks for their answer. My fingernails are all bitten down. They said they needed to think … and now my omelet is full of holes! So what did they answer?”

My husband paused before responding.

“The other side said that at this point they don’t think it’s going to work for them. Not that there was any problem … just that the boy was looking for something else …”

Suddenly, the tiny kitchen seemed to be closing in on me. Last week we had an amazing suggestion, but I told them we were busy! Who knows if we missed a golden opportunity? Why did they say no? Maybe we should have offered more financially?

My husband cringes at this new suggestion. He’s wondering where we will get the money to offer more. I retreat immediately. I was never implying that we should take on new debts. Rather, I was trying to figure out why recently we haven’t been getting so many suggestions for our gem of a daughter.

I get up wearily to heat some water in the urn. My coffee is black, just like I’m feeling right now. And I can’t add milk for another half hour.

I bentsch and my husband goes to his nightly shiur. I’m left alone to start getting ready for Shabbos. I turn on the mixer and its loud noise battle to overcome the pounding voices in my head. The dough is kneading and I whisper, “l’kovod Shabbos kodesh.” Suddenly, I freeze. How could I have forgotten?

My husband has a daily shiur, and I’m getting ready for Shabbos. Bentsching, coffee without milk. It’s all l’Shem Shamayim. But the underlying emunah, the foundation — where is it? Is the objective forgotten in moments of distress? Is it possible that my desire to serve Hashem is lacking the most fundamental element — that of trust and faith? Why am I worrying about everything?

The Midrash is teaching us that that in matters of faith, it’s not enough to keep the status quo. There are too many opportunities that make us stumble, so many daily moments that test a person’s faith. A man has to struggle all his life to reveal the truth. He has to “write” on every door and every window of his house that Hashem is his protection. And then he will be prepared to always do what Hashem commands. (ibid.)

Hashem is the ultimate Decision Maker. He decides which bochur will say yes and which will refuse. He matches couples forty days before a baby is created. And He doesn’t need us to take on unreasonable debts in order to “help” Him expedite matters.

How could I forget all this so quickly? I should be thanking Hashem for saving us from a shidduch that obviously wasn’t going to work. And I should know with certainty that the perfect shidduch is waiting out there for our daughter. Besides normal hishtadlus and uncompromising emunah, we don’t need to do anything else for her.

In light of this, we understand the words of the Midrash that compared Hashem’s commands to the servants’ writing on the doors and windows. Because announcing that this is what Hashem commanded during every action in the construction of the Mishkan enforces our emunah in Hashem in every facet of life. (ibid.)

I will strive to build my home as a Mishkan. And I will etch His Name in all the rooms for eternity.

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