Sensitivity is Never Superfluous

March 7, 2021

2 min read


Vayakhel-Pekudei (Exodus 35-40 )

The people respond to Moses' request to donate the materials for the Tabernacle with great enthusiasm. When Moses realized that they were receiving an abundance of material, he puts forward a request. "No man or woman shall do any more work for the offering of the Sanctuary" (Shemos 36:6).

If they had too many materials, why didn’t Moses instruct the people not to bring any more items? Why does he just request that no more work is done?

The Sforno explains that this request highlights Moses' sensitivity to the people’s feelings.

Some people had already worked on completing something, and had they been told not to bring what they had already prepared, they would have been very disappointed. Moses recognized this and carefully worded his request so that those people would not be caused any anguish.

What a lesson in sensitivity! It would have been so easy for Moses to just see what was and wasn’t needed, and to command the people accordingly.

When trying to work towards a goal with optimum efficiency, keeping in mind the feelings of the workers is a real skill.

If someone does something for us which ultimately proves to have been unnecessary, be considerate of their feelings. Don’t show that their efforts were not actually needed.

This could apply in work environment when something is completed and then proves to be superfluous, but also can apply to people giving ideas that one has already thought of, or news that one has already heard of.

A story is told of Rabbi Y E Spector when one after the other people came to inform him of good news. Rabbi Spector listened politely and thanked each one as if they were the first, allowing each one the pleasure of informing him!

We learn from Moses an important and practical message. Never to cause even the slightest amount of pain, not even a jolt of disappointment.

(Adapted from Love your Neighbour by Zelig Pliskin)

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