At the beginning of this week's Parsha, the discussion of the construction of the mishkan and its avodah is abruptly interrupted. Inserted there is a summary of the raw materials collected from Klal Yisrael. The Torah proceeds to delineate the exact sum of each material collected, followed by a precise accounting of how each material was employed in the construction of the mishkan. Finally, the Torah continues its description of the elements of the mishkan by describing the bigdei Kehunah worn in the Mishkan.
But why do we need this summary? The Torah devotes two full Parshios
(the previous one as well as our current portion) to a detailed
explanation of every element of the mishkan and its service. Concerning
each and every component, the Torah provides us with its precise
dimensions, its function and role in the mishkan, as well as the
materials necessary in its construction. What then is the purpose of the
synopsis detailing the utilization of the raw materials themselves?
Rav Moshe Feinstein, suggests an intriguing solution which provides us
with an invaluable lesson about our own lives. Rav Moshe proposes that
since each material was donated for the specific intent of the
construction of the mishkan and its avodah, any misappropriation of the
donated funds would be tantamount to stealing from the Bnei Yisrael who
had generously offered the materials.
Therefore, a final tally of all the contributions was necessary to
ensure that in fact every donation collected from the Jews was used for
its designated holy purpose.
Rav Moshe continues that we can apply the same idea to our daily
conduct. We are all born with certain innate talents and abilities
"donated" to us by Hashem for the specific intent of performing His
will. However, how we use those G-d given talents is up to us. We may
choose to use our talents for their intended purpose -- to serve Hashem
-- or we may choose to utilize those abilities for evil.
For example, imagine a person blessed with a brilliant intellect. Gifted
with such brilliance, his potential seems endless. However, how he
decides to employ his talent is solely up to him. He may determine that
his gift is best served by somehow benefiting mankind. On the other
hand, he may conclude that his intelligence was given to him so that he
could become the world's mastermind of crime -- using his wits to cheat
and extort from his fellow man.
Certainly, the same can be said about any talent or gift -- the choice
is in our hands. However, we must realize that, although we do have the
power to decide how to use our G-d given abilities, any
misappropriations of these talents is in fact tantamount to stealing
from Hashem, as these gifts were given to us for the sole purpose of
serving Him. Therefore, it only makes sense that, every once in a while,
we too must compute and tabulate our own use of the donations from
Hashem. Only in this way can we ensure that the "materials" contributed
to us by Hashem are employed to their expressed and original