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The last chapter of this parashah contains a puzzling passage, "This is the thing that God commanded to be done...,"1 which refers to the commandment to inaugurate the Tabernacle. We suggest that the previous verse sheds light on what is needed to sanctify the Tabernacle and Jewish life in general. God instructed Moses to gather the entire assembly of the Jewish people "to the entrance to the Tent of the Meeting," and herein lies the explanation, which, in and of itself, is paradoxical. Although the area at the entrance was very small and could not contain many people, nevertheless, miraculously, there was ample room for everyone.
Through this phenomenon, the Torah teaches us a lesson that speaks for all time: When true love prevails among people, no room, no place is too small. On the other hand, when contention and animosity fill hearts, then no space is big enough. The most majestic palace cannot accommodate those who are not at peace with one another. Thus, the meaning of the passage becomes clear: "This is the thing that God commanded to be done" – to reach out with love, kindness, and understanding. If we do so, then even the smallest, most limited space will miraculously expand. That is the power of love. But where love is missing, even a palatial villa will not suffice.
Later in the parashah, we find yet another dimension to this concept of fulfilling the will of God that we would all do well to remember and act upon. Aaron asks a question that it behooves us all to ask: "Would God approve?"2
Normally, when performing a mitzvah, the paramount question to ask is, "Am I performing this mitzvah in accordance with halachah, according to the letter of the law?" But Aaron, the High Priest, went yet a step further. He understood that not only must we fulfill the mitzvah according to God's Law, but we must do so in a manner that will be pleasing to our Creator. This teaching applies to every aspect of our lives. Before making decisions, before taking any steps, ask yourself that simple, but piercing question, Would God approve? Is this the way God would want me to live? Would He be pleased with my actions? Would He approve of my words?
If we learn to do this, then our relationship with God will not be based strictly on obligation, but rather, on love. A child who truly loves his parents desires to please them and give them nachas. Should we not desire to give our Heavenly Father nachas? Should we not express our love for Him?
So if we wish to connect with God, if we wish to download miracles and have His glory bless us, we need only follow His commandments, fulfill them as He proscribed, go the extra mile and ask, "Is the manner in which I am performing the mitzvos pleasing to my Creator, my God?"
Our mother, Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis, often relates the story of the Maggid of Kelm – the electrifying inspirational preacher of the shtetl of Kelm who lived in Lithuania in the 19th century. One day he challenged his congregation with amazing questions. "If, by some miracle, God allowed all those who are buried in the cemetery of Kelm to get up for half an hour, what do you think they would do? Where would they go? What would they say?"
Consider these questions, ponder them, and ask yourself, What would I do? Where would I go? What would I say if I had just half an hour in this world? And what if, instead of half an hour, you were told that your wife or your husband had just six months to live. How would you relate to her or him?
On 9/11 we found out. For perhaps the first time in history, we have audio messages from multitudes of people who were trapped in the Twin Towers and knew that their last moments were near. Miraculously, these tragic victims were able to get through on their cell phones and call their families. What do you think they said? What was their last will and testament?
Amazingly, not one of them spoke about business, money, or any other such matters ... but they each said three little words: "I love you." "I love you, my husband"; "I love you, my wife"; "I love you, my children"; "I love you, Mom"; "I love you, Dad"; "I love you, Grandma"; "I love you, Grandpa" ... "I love you."
So, if we have more than half an hour on this planet, should we not say I love you before it's too late?
When you study Torah, you learn to value the preciousness of time and try to live each day as if it was your last. You learn to appreciate and safeguard the simple gifts with which God has endowed you, gifts like love, gifts that you come to realize are not so simple after all.