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It's Up To You

Pekudei (Exodus 38:21-40:38 )

by Rabbi Dr. Abraham Twerski

Bezalel made the Ark of acacia wood #(37:1)

Rashi says that because Bezalel dedicated himself to the work of the Ark more than others, it bears his name: the Ark that Bezlael made.

In Exodus 25:10, the Torah says, “They shall make an Ark of acacia wood.” The Midrash notes that for all the other appurtenances of the Sanctuary, God said to Moses, “You shall make,” but in the case of the Ark, He said, “They shall make.” The Midrash explains this exception; God said to Moses, “Let everyone participate in the fashioning of the Ark, so that all will have the merit of Torah” (Shemos Rabbah 34:3). There seems to be a bit of a conflict here. God instructed that everyone should share in the construction of the Ark, yet it appears as though Bezalel did it almost single-handedly.

Rabbi Boruch Sorotzkin says that the message herein is that when Torah is involved, one should not assume that others will do their part, but rather act as if one were the only person who could carry out the responsibility. Although all the Israelites were obligated to share in the Ark, Bezalel approached it as if he were the only one available to fashion it.

There is the well-known story of the shul that asked all its members to donate a cup of wine. Each member reasoned that everyone else would donate wine, so he could get away with putting in a cup of water. When they came to fetch wine from the barrel, it was all pure water! That is what may happen when one relies on others to do the task. Every person may rationalize that others will do it.

Rabbi Sorotzkin's observation is relevant to all commandments as well as to Torah. When there is something to be done, do not rely on others, even if they share the responsibility. Act as if you were the only person available and capable of doing the task.

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