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The Precious Mundane

Friday, 9 March, 2018 - 7:13 am

In the Torah few are the instances of repetition. In short, the Torah is stingy on words. Each word carries deep meaning and application.

Yet, this week, we read in the two parshiyot of Vayakhel and Pekudei some seeming redundant words. In fact, in these two relatively lengthy parshiyot we find a virtual verbatim repetition of the construction details of the Mishkan. We already had two entire parshiyot, Terumah and Teztaveh, dedicated to this. Last time it was G-d’s instruction how to build the Tabernacle. This time it’s the Jewish people fulfilling those commands.

In other words, if the Torah would have simply stated something along the lines of, “The Jewish people did as G-d had commanded,” we would know the same story.

So, why repeat it all?

***

I remember in yeshiva being told by one of the great mentors to study a particular Chassidic discourse. I soon came back to report that I had completed it.

“Ah, you read through it once…” he said.  “Okay, now go learn it. The first time is just to become familiar. Now you are ready to learn it. And, when you finish, you can review it to make sure you understand.”

That taught me a powerful message about study. We always need to repeat in order to truly grasp and to truly appreciate the material. 

Is this what the Torah is emphasizing here?

***

Upon further reflection, however, why would the Torah choose remind us of the need to review in these parshiyot?  These are some of the most technical (do I hear some people saying boring?) details of the Torah!

I might be able to wrap my mind around the need to repeat intriguing stories and deep philosophical ideas in the Torah. But, why repeat something that seems so routine?

Shouldn’t we focus on reviewing the more important messages?

***

Perhaps, the Torah’s focus on repeating davka these parshiyot about the technical minutia of the Mishkan the Torah is teaching a twofold message:

1)      Even the most mundane details deserve our full attention. Don’t skip over or skim over the details.

2)      Precisely these details deserve our attention. G-d doesn’t simply want our spirit to connect with Him. He wants our everyday life – the boring details of life – to be sacred. Just as Hashem desired the Mishkan – which was a technical, limited, and physical abode – so too, He desires our daily activities.

G-d is not looking only for the Shema and the Binding of Isaac. He is looking for the plain and unexciting moments of our lives.

Each moment in our lives has the capacity to be a home for G-d; a sacred space.

Doing a mitzvah might sometimes look boring to us. But, to Hashem, it’s the greatest delight.

Hopefully, that motivates me – again and again.

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