Learning when to take Action – Pekudei

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One of the fundamental concepts of Bitachon is that of fully trusting HaShem to deliver. 

The question that arises, naturally, is how much work, hishtadlus, is necessary compared to HaShem intervening. There are a myriad of kosher opinions on the matter, ranging from the max on work to the minimum on work. In other words, find a kosher shita and stick to it all the way, don’t mix and match. 

The Rambam takes more of a maximum work approach, while the Ramban leans more toward the minimum. Many like to follow that of Rashi and Chovos Halevavos and stick to the middle ground. Novardok is known for leaning on G-d as much as possible. 

To find a proper balance, I’d like to suggest a different approach.

Instead of engaging in the age-old debate of how much work we need to or want to do, I want to look to the Torah, specifically in, Parsha Pekudei, for insight. 

These are the records of the Mishkan, the Mishkan of the Pact, which were drawn up a Moshe’s bidding, the work of the Levites under the direction of Isamar, son of Aharon, the Kohen.

Shmos 38:21

The Bobover Ruv ztz”l brings several questions asked by mefarshim. Why mention Mishkan twice? Why mention it was commanded by Moshe Rabbeinu? These are both obvious and shouldn’t need to be repeated. Since the Torah is brief, and spends the ink to repeat these parts, there must be another layer of understanding. 

The answer to this is brought by the Ropshitzer Ruv ztz”l in Zera Kodesh Pikudei Likkutim with this pasuk:

You shall have an honest balance, honest weights, an honest ephah, and an honest hin…

Vayikra 19:36

Rashi’s comment on this pasuk is that an ephah is a specific dry measure and a hin is a specific liquid measure. 

Says the Ropshitzer Ruv, this teaches us about serving HaShem. We all have two opposite middos: atzlus (laziness) and zerizus (alacrity). Laziness is a dry middah while alacrity comes from moisture. 

Rabbi Dovid Gleizer brought me a chiddush that zerizus is not just being quick to action, but also finishing the job. Starting it right away and doing it to completion at a satisfactory quality. To me, that is very much how a mikvah works. You jump in and you’re immediately soaked from head to toe. 

Says the Bobuver Ruv, when the yetzer hara comes at us, it brings since with great fervor and passion toward that appetite. It’s a hot bath. And when we face mitzvos, the attack is very dry, where we are “chilled” and delayed at completing the mitzvah with the hope that we miss the opportunity altogether.

Thus,to wage war against the yetzer hara effectively, we need to come at it with zerizus and atzlus in the proper measure.

We must use these middos to counter the attacks of the yetzer hara, applying dry against wet and wet against dry, cooling us off when faced with aveiros and igniting and propelling us toward mitzvos. 

The Ropshitzer Ruv uses these measures to conclude that the purpose of the Mishkan was in order that every yid would build a sanctuary within themselves. 

And let them make Me a sanctuary that I may dwell among them.

Shmos 25:8

The pasuk doesn’t say that HaShem will dwell in “it” (the sanctuary), but rather in “them” (every Jew). According to the Bobover Ruv in the name of the Ropshitzer Ruv, the purpose of building the Mishkan is to teach us how to perfect our middos so that HaShem can dwell within us. 

The allusion to this reality is found within the opening words of the Parsha we are focusing on. 

אלה פקודי המשכן

The first letters of each word give us אפה, the ephah. The dry measure. This is atzlus, laziness. The last letters of each word give us הין, the hin. The wet measure. This is zerizus, alacrity. 

A step further – the Kedushas Levi brings that the Gematria of the reisha teivos, אפה, is 86, the same Gematria of Elokim, the Divine Name that has the attribute of Judgment. The Gematria of the seifa teivos, הין, is 65, which is the Gematria of Ad-noy, a component of the Divine Name represented by the Shem Havaya, which is the attribute of Chesed. More on the Shem Havaya itself later. 

Thus, according to the tzaddikim we are learning from, for us to become a Mishkan, and have HaShem dwell within us, we must master these two middos and find the correct application and balance for them. After all, too much Gevurah (ephah) and we have a drought. Too much Chesed (hin), and we have a flood. There has to be a balance on how to employ these two middos properly to create Rachamim, compassion. 

This lesson brings me back to the conversation of when we work our hishtadlus and when we lean on bitachon.

What is the proper balance? 

It’s all based on balancing these middos. Perhaps the proper derech for our avodah and growth in emunah is to apply the ephah and hin where appropriate. When we’re in the heat of our emotions and feel we need to take action to fix something, that’s the time to cool off and give Ribbono Shel Olam the wheel. Conversely, when faced with a situation that seems chilled off and slippery, that’s when we need to apply ourselves and create some traction. While making these strides, however, we must recognize the law of physics: movement creates friction, and friction creates heat. As long as that heat leads to a persevering passion for mitzvos, we’re fine. But if the path looks like it involves less reliance on HaShem or us spinning wheels, then we need to back off, chill out, and let the Master take full control of the situation. 

It’s hard to tell sometimes what that looks like. The Gemara in Brachos (8a) teaches us that the mitzvah of limud haTorah is where we find the Shechina today. The Bobover Ruv brings in the name of the Maggid of Mezritzch that Yeshayahu HaNavi compared Torah to water (55:1) and Yirmiyahu HaNavi compared Torah to fire (23:29). Thus, our antidote for the yetzer hara is found in Torah both times, since it can both cool off and heat up. 

Additionally, the Kedushas Levi shows that our verse of discussion in the Parsha alludes to the Shem Havaya, the Yud, then Hay, then Vav, then Hay. The Gematria of this name is 45 when written out fully, as is the Gematria of the reisha teivos of the Mishkan HaEidus (מ and ה).

This is the reason Mishkan is mentioned a second time in the Parsha, as what do we do when the Beis HaMikdash is destroyed? We continue to build the Mishkan of Torah inside us. 

By working on our middos and creating a Mishkan in our hearts through the mitzvah of limud haTorah, we in turn can find the proper balance between hishtadlus and bitachon, creating a balance within for us and the Shechina.