Yesterday, we noted Rashi’s remark in his commentary to Parashat Teruma (25:31), based on the Midrash Tanchuma (Behaalotekha), that Moshe encountered difficulty when it came to constructing the menorah. God therefore told Moshe to take the entire kikar of gold and cast into fire, and it would then be produced on its own. We saw an approach that explained this comment to mean that Moshe had difficulty apportioning the kikar of gold. God required that the menorah be formed from a single block of gold (25:31), and that it and all its accessories be produced from exactly one kikar of gold (25:39). Moshe, or the artisans under his charge, had to somehow come up with a block of gold of the precise size that together with the menorah’s accessories would amount to one kikar. This was the difficult challenge that Moshe encountered. God therefore told Moshe to cast a kikar of gold into fire, and God would miraculously divide the gold into a block for the menorah and a smaller amount of gold for the accessories.
In light of this approach, we might perhaps suggest an explanation for the symbolic meaning of this Midrashic passage. We are all given a “kikar zahav,” a finite quantity of resources of time, energy and talent to use in our lives. One of the greatest challenges we face is knowing how to most effectively distribute these resources, how much to use for the “menorah,” for the essence of life, for the significant pursuits that lend meaning and purpose to our lives, and how much to allocate for the “accessories,” needs that are vital for living but secondary in importance. Too often, it seems that we live our lives backwards, allocating the bulk of our time and energy in securing and caring for our basic needs, leaving only a small amount of time for that which is truly important and meaningful. Indeed, this distribution is a very difficult task to master. We must not neglect our “accessories,” our practical needs, but we must also ensure not to allow them to become the focal point of our lives, such that they push the essential aspects of life to the periphery.
God’s response to Moshe, to cast the gold into the fire and allow God to divide the gold for him, should not be taken to mean that this distribution is something we do not have to bother with. Rather, it tells us that as we struggle with this constant challenge of properly allocating our time and resources, we can draw encouragement from our faith in the Almighty’s ever-present assistance, and feel confident that as long as we make our best effort, He will grant us success in this and in all our endeavors, and ensure that our lives will shine and radiate like the light of the golden menorah.