Thursday, 23 Adar I 5776 - March 3, 2016

  • Rav David Silverberg

            Yesterday, we noted the Torah’s description of Benei Yisrael donating materials for the Mishkanba-boker ba-boker” – “each morning” (36:3) after Moshe conveyed to them God’s command to provide materials for the project.  The Gemara (Yoma 75a), as we saw, understood the phrase “ba-boker ba-boker” as referring to the precious materials that God sent down with the manna, which fell “each morning” to feed Benei Yisrael.

            The basis for Chazal’s Midrashic reading of this phrase is the obvious question that arises as to why the materials were brought specifically in the morning.  Seemingly, there was no reason for Benei Yisrael to make their donations during one part of the day over any other.  Why, then, are they described as bringing the materials for the Mishkan specifically in the morning?  This question is what led Chazal to read the phrase “ba-boker ba-boker” as a reference to the manna, rather to the time of day when the donations were made.

            Some writers, however, including the Keli Yakar, suggested that the description of “ba-boker ba-boker” indeed refers to the morning hours, and is intended to underscore the people’s zeal and enthusiasm in this endeavor.  Those who wished to donate brought their materials early in the morning, without any delay, testifying to their excitement over the prospect of the Divine Presence residing among the nation.

            Rav Shmuel Alter, in his Likutei Batar Likutei, adds a possible explanation for the unique significance of this quality of zeal in the specific context of the Mishkan.  Rashi, based on the Midrash Tanchuma, famously views the Mishkan as the means by which Benei Yisrael earned atonement for the sin of the golden calf.  The tragedy of golden calf resulted from Benei Yisrael’s impatience as they waited for Moshe to return from atop Mount Sinai.  Seeing that he had not returned when they expected, the people lost patience and despaired, assuming he would never come back.  This led them to seek an alternative to Moshe, in the form of idolatrous worship.  To atone for their impatience that precipitated the sin of the calf, the people now acted with impatience for a positive cause – rushing to bring their materials for the construction of the Mishkan.

            This insight teaches us that like virtually all characteristics, impatience and haste can be both destructive and valuable.  On the one hand, it can cause us to act recklessly and make imprudent decisions by failing to give careful thought and consideration to our actions.  This results in grave mistakes such as the golden calf.  But on the other hand, when we feel passionately about an important goal or ideal, our impulsive instincts can drive us to pursue it with vigilance and rigor, raising the prospects of success.  The contrast between the golden calf and the donation of materials for the Mishkan reflects the balance that needs to be maintained between patience and prudence, on the one hand, and, on the other, passion and zeal in the service of our Creator.