Vayakhel: They are not in Control

This email was supposed to be sent last week, but there were some technical issues. I've switched email providers, so hopefully we won't have any more. If in the future you do not see an email from me, please check your Promotions or Updates folder in Gmail, just in case…. So… here's last week's Dvar Torah… better late then never!

The reason my wife and I took our vacation a bit early this year was a two-in-one reason.  The first being, between three lockdowns and numerous quarantines, it was time for a break from the kids. The second reason was because it was bad enough that the government was keeping our kids out of school for longer than necessary, but it was made worse when our local schools were even more stringent, throwing entire families into quarantine even when the government didn't or barely mandated it, even though our numbers are incredibly low.  Some of the community leaders have been throwing our children’s (and parents') mental/spiritual health under the bus to make their lives easier.   I know we were not the only ones feeling this, but it was still a very heavy thing on our heads.


The first day of the trip was cold and rainy.  It was actually quite fun driving through the mountains, in and out of clouds.  When it came time to find a place to eat, my wife suggested that we go to the burial site of Rebbe Elazar ben Aruch, since there is a large roofed area with tables at the site.  So … off we went.  As we were there, I was reminded of something the Moshgiach from my yeshiva said regarding the parshos that we are in now.  He quoted the Mishna in Avos, where Rebbe Yochanan be Zakkai asked his talmidim which is the best thing that a person should have in order to grow.  Each of his talmidim gave an answer, but Rebbe Yochnanan Ben Zakkai preferred the words of Rebbe Elazar ben Aruch, who said "A good heart," since a good heart includes all the other answers given.


So, what is this good heart and why is it so important?


Over the past several weeks, the Torah has been going into great detail regarding the building of the Mishkan.  Every instrument and every nut and bolt of the structure was accounted for.  The Mishkan served the Jewish people for hundreds of years until the building of the Beis HaMikdash.  At that point, the Mishkan was hidden away.


When the Beis HaMikdash was built, it was built to last forever.  It was to be THE source of holiness in the world, more so than the Mishkan.  When Shlomo HaMelech built it, he brought in the best of the best to build it in the most beautiful manner.  It was so great that the fast of Yom Kippur was cancelled when it was inaugurated, since the entire nation was on such a high level.  Yet, we see that it was destroyed.  Years later, it was rebuilt.  Only to be destroyed again.  And even while it was standing, it was in need of constant repair.


So, what was the difference between the Mishkan, which was made in a temporary fashion, yet was never destroyed, and the Beis HaMikdash, which was made to last, yet was destroyed?


When the nation built the Mishkan in the desert, the Torah was very clear on who built it and who provided the material: those whose hearts drove them.  The people themselves donated the money and material and built it themselves.  Was it a grand structure?  No.  But, it was done from the heart.


When the Beis HaMikdash was built, who provided the finances? Taxes.  Who built the structure?  Both Jews and non-Jews.  Shlomo HaMelech brought in the best of the best.  So, if the best wood-workers were in Syria, he paid them well and brought them in.  If the best metal workers came from Iran, no problem, he brought them in.  And everything was paid via taxes, which as we all know, is not voluntary.


This is why the Mishkan was never destroyed, because it was from the heart and the inner desire of the Jewish people to become close to Hashem.  Shlomo HaMelech also had the desire, but the builders and the financial backers did not.


In the end, the "good heart" is what makes things last.


So too, I told my wife, regarding our children.  Yes, they missed a lot.  Yes, they were at home a lot, when they did not need to be.  Yes, we worry about what will be with them, missing so much.  But in the end, those who made such decisions do not control the fate of our children.  If we continue to worry for them, daven for them, and provide whatever we can, that's all that we can do.  That's us giving our hearts for them.  Whatever the "authorities" decide does not affect the ultimate outcome.


Today's culture is very big into blaming others for our own failures.  However, this is certainly not a Jewish concept.  We do our best, we put what we can into achieving our goals, and the rest is in Hashem's hands.  Our children's success in life is no different.


Have a wonderful Shabbos!