Parshas Vayakhel: Just Enough or Too Much?

In this week’s parshios, Vayakhel and Pekudei, we once again close the book of Shemos, also known as Sefer ha’Geula (the Book of Redemption).  The Redemption – our journey to freedom and nationhood, began with the Exodus from Egypt, peaked at the Revelation at Sinai with the giving of the Aseres ha’Dibros and the Torah, and culminated with the construction of the Mishkan (Sanctuary), wherein the Shechinah, Divine Presence, would rest and dwell, so to speak. 

Therein lies the story of the book of Shemos and the formation of our nation.  Born in the crucible of Egypt, we emerged as a people, we accepted the Torah, and we built a Sanctuary for Infinity to rest in finitude.

The Mishkan, and its implements, were constructed of materials donated by the people: gold, silver, copper, wools, linen, animal hides, wood, spices, oils, precious gems.  However much each person wanted to donate, so he did.  He who wanted to give more did so, and he who wanted to give less, did so as well.

However, the people so desired to give to the collection to build the Mishkan, that at the end of the donating period, there was too much!

וַיֹּאמְרוּ אֶל-מֹשֶׁה לֵּאמֹר, מַרְבִּים הָעָם לְהָבִיא, מִדֵּי הָעֲבֹדָה לַמְּלָאכָה – And they said to Moshe: The people exceeded in bringing, more than the labor of the work that Hashem had commanded to perform;

וַיְצַו מֹשֶׁה, וַיַּעֲבִירוּ קוֹל בַּמַּחֲנֶה לֵאמֹר, אִישׁ וְאִשָּׁה אַל-יַעֲשׂוּ-עוֹד מְלָאכָה, לִתְרוּמַת הַקֹּדֶשׁ; וַיִּכָּלֵא הָעָם, מֵהָבִיא – And Moshe commanded, and they proclaimed in the camp saying: Man and woman shall not do more work toward the portion of the Sanctuary!  And the nation was held back from bringing (more);

וְהַמְּלָאכָה, הָיְתָה דַיָּם לְכָל-הַמְּלָאכָה–לַעֲשׂוֹת אֹתָהּ; וְהוֹתֵר – And the work was enough for them for all the work, to do it – and there was extra (Shemos 36:5-7).

“And the work was enough… and there was extra.”

The Ohr Ha’Chaim ha’kadosh asks: What is to be learned from this apparent contradiction?  Was there just enough material donated, and needed, to build the Mishkan?  Or was there extra material donated, and amassed, with which to build the Mishkan?  Having enough and having extra are not necessarily the same thing.

He answers that: ואולי שישמיענו הכתוב חיבת בני ישראל בעיני המקום. כי לצד שהביאו ישראל יותר משיעור הצריך, חש ה’ לכבוד כל איש שטרחו והביאו, ונכנם כל המובא בית ה’ במלאכת המשכן

This teaches us how beloved the Jewish people are in the eyes of Hashem.  Because the people brought more than what was needed (i.e.: they brought extra), Hashem was concerned for the dignity of each person who had made the effort to bring a donation (and lest he feel that his efforts were in vain), everything that was brought to the house of Hashem for the work of the Mishkan miraculously fit, and nothing was unused.

Hence, even though in reality, there was extra, Hashem made it all fit, so it seemed as if there was exactly enough

From The Melamed Torah li’Amo Yisrael – from Hashem Who teaches Torah to His people – we learn a tremendous lesson and mussar has’kel.

So often in life, those around us – be it children, family members, students, friends, neighbors – want to help out, for one reason or another.  Sometimes, we need their help, and the emes (truth of the matter) is that sometimes we do not.  But more than if their help is needed, we should ask ourselves: how much do they want to give

While it might be easier to bake the cake without the child helping, how much does the child want to help his mother bake?  Sure there’s enough without him; but with his assistance, there’s extra.  Extra flour, maybe; extra sugar, perhaps; extra oil – oy vey!; extra love – for sure. 

The enough and extra in regard to the Mishkan teaches us חיבת בני ישראל בעיני המקום – the love of the children of Israel in the eyes of Hashem.  While the extra was not needed, Hashem found room for it all. 

While we often have enough in life, it behooves us to make room for the extra.  When those around us want to help, offer assistance, and contribute from their lives and selves, we must strive to include their offers and assistance in our lives.

For while we might just have enough on our own, this cannot compare to having extra to fill our homes, our lives, our very selves.

If Hashem – Who needs nothing from us – miraculously ensured that the extra became enough, and all that was donated was used, then we can surely do the same, as we go in His ways and emulate His deeds (see Sotah 14a). 

In the merit of including others, as we all work together to build a house for Hashem, may we be worthy of the ultimate redemption.  For on that great day, as the Temple is once again rebuilt, perhaps we will be zocheh to witness the majestic vision atop Har Ha’Moriah once again: when extra will become enough and enough will become perfect for all.

בברכת חודש טוב ושבת שלום,


1 Comment
  • Marla
    Posted at 19:07h, 22 March

    Beautifully said by a wonderful teacher who always gives “extra”. Shabbat shalom!