Enough but Extra by Yosef Robin


In Parashat VaYakheil, the Torah describes the process of building the Mishkan. During this process, Bnei Yisrael are commanded to make donations to assist in the building. Eventually, the people make so many contributions that Moshe commands the people to stop, as the Pasuk states, “VeHaMelachah Hayetah Dayam LeChol HaMelachah LaAsot Otah VeHoteir,” “But the work had been enough for all work, to do it--and there was extra” (Shemot 36:7). However, the Pasuk seems to be contradictory; if there is enough work, how is there also extra work?

Rav Chaim Ben Attar explains that Bnei Yisrael donate more than is needed for the Mishkan, but Hashem makes sure that everything that is donated is used. Hashem does this because He does not want any member of Bnei Yisrael to feel rejected or insignificant because his donation is not used. Rav Yisrael Dan Taub offers a different interpretation of the Pasuk. He believes that even though Bnei Yisrael bring just enough materials for the Mishkan, Hashem makes sure that there are extra supplies. Rav Taub explains that Hashem does this to encourage humility; Hashem wants the people to believe that their donations are extra so that they focus on the Mishkan as an atonement for the Eigel HaZahav, the golden calf, and not on their donations.

Both of these explanations understand the seemingly contradictory Pasuk in two almost opposite ways: to boost their self-esteem by giving their donation significance, or to deflate their excessive egos. Yet perhaps these divergent ideas can provide an important balance which should be persistently cognizant in our interactions with others as well as ourselves. Too much confidence, or too little, is inadvisable. Only by synthesizing these two behavioral poles can we truly learn from Hashem’s actions here and internalize it.

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