Yesterday, we noted the announced made by Moshe to Benei Yisrael after it was reported that they were donating too many materials for the construction of the Mishkan:
“No man or woman shall do more work for the donation towards the sanctuary” (36:6). The Torah then tells that the people stopped bringing materials. It seems that Moshe instructed the people to stop bringing donations for the Mishkan, but instead of saying that nobody should bring materials, he said that nobody should “perform more work.” As we saw, different interpretations have been offered to explain this verse.
Rav Avraham Yehoshua Heschel of Apta (cited in Siftei Tzadikim) creatively suggests that Moshe’s announcement was in fact directed towards the artisans who had begun building the Mishkan and its furnishings. He instructed them to temporarily discontinue their work, because the sound and commotion produced by the flurry of activity generated a great deal of excitement and enthusiasm among the people, igniting a passionate desire to continue bringing donations. The way Moshe chose to solve the problem of excess materials, the Rebbe of Apta explained, was by suspending the work on the Mishkan, so that the people’s excitement would subside and they would thus stop bringing the materials…
The Rebbe of Apta here powerfully depicts the way our actions impact our surroundings, the ability we have to inspire and motivate the people around us. This illustration, of excitement generated by the sound of the craftsmen’s tools as they worked to build the Mishkan, models the way we can generate enthusiasm through our own enthusiasm and hard work. When we passionately and lovingly devote ourselves to a certain undertaking, we create a certain aura of energy and excitement that will, to one degree or another, affect others.
The Rebbe of Apta gave the example of a certain unlearned shamash (synagogue attendant) in Apta, whose job included waking the townspeople for prayers in the early hours. This shamash was exceedingly successful in this role, the Rebbe said, to the point where once somebody heard his knocking, he could no longer remain in bed. The Rebbe attributed this effect to the shamash’s special excitement and fervor, which had a profound impact upon others. When we devote ourselves with passion and fervor to a lofty goal, we ignite – at least to some extent – passion and fervor within the people around us, and can have a far greater impact upon our surroundings than we would have thought we could.