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Beit Midrash Torah Portion and Tanach Vayakhel

Parashat Vayakhel

Plan It And They Will Bring

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The construction of the Mishkan was a major, expensive, national project that was carried out totally on a volunteer basis. Who were these volunteers? "Every man whose heart elevated him (n’sa’o libo) came; and everyone whose spirit motivated him (nadva rucho) brought for the donation of Hashem …" (Shemot 35:21). Why did the Torah give two titles to the donors? Is there a difference between them?

The Netziv says that the first group refers to those who gave out of fear that otherwise their heart would make them feel guilty, whereas those of a motivated spirit donated because their minds told them that it was the right thing to do. The Ohr Hachayim has higher regard for those moved by the heart, who gave more than was expected, as opposed to those motivated by the spirit, who donated as expected.

The Ramban, however, makes a greater distinction between the two groups, one that answers several textual questions (not all of which does the Ramban mention). The root nadav is often found regarding donors, but n’siat lev is not found elsewhere in this context. We can add that different verbs forms are used for the two groups, as is stressed by the trop (cantilation) of the pasuk. The elevated-heart people came; the motivated-spirit people brought. The Ramban says that the latter group donated the raw materials for the Mishkan, but the former group volunteered their time and effort to carry out the construction and formation of the various utensils and fabrics. He explains these builders’ description as those whose heart (literally) raised them up as follows. None of them had been trained in the crafts he was to be involved in. (Apparently their skills were wasted in Egypt on menial labor). Yet they raised their hearts in the ways of Hashem (see Divrei Hayamim II, 17:6) and found within themselves the talent to accomplish these objectively difficult tasks.

At least one question threatens this explanation. If the latter group donated the raw materials, which were then processed by the former group, then the pasuk seems out of order. First, donors bring; later, craftsmen do their work. The apparent answer teaches a very important lesson. Many important projects seem too ambitious, too expensive, and beyond the capabilities of those who are called upon to get them off the ground. There is a need for people to step forward and declare, "We will make sure that this job gets done, and we will start applying ourselves to plan and carry out the dream, effective immediately." When others see the commitment and confidence of the vanguard, it is easier to find other donors, creating a partnership to get the job done.

Although not every generation merits specific, Divine instructions to build a Mishkan, every generation has a plethora of difficult but possible holy projects to implement. Those who may not be aware of their untapped talents should search their hearts for the inner strength to believe in themselves and lead others.


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