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Worth its Weight in Gold

Friday, 8 March, 2019 - 8:54 am

Ten kilo of gold is worth over $400,000. The same ten kilos of twigs might not even be worth one dollar.

I imagine carrying the ten kilo of gold would be much more enjoyable than carrying the twigs.


This week’s parsha Pekudei records the sum of materials that the Jewish people donated to the Mishkan (Tabernacle). Interestingly, the Torah records the weight of all the items donated equally. In other words, the Torah does not record the value of the individual donations, only their weight. A kilo of copper costs under seven dollars today.

Why does the Torah only care about the physical weight of the donations? Isn’t there a significant difference between the values of different metals? How can we compare someone who donated one kilo of copper or wood to someone who donated a kilo of gold, or an ounce of diamond?

My teacher and mentor, the Lubavitcher Rebbe, explained it as follows:

What is the difference between weight and worth? Whereas weight only measures an object’s mass, value reflects its quality and distinct form as well.

In a spiritual sense, these two components exist in varying degrees in all our “contributions” toward “making a Mishkan”—our efforts to make a dwelling place for G-d in this world. The weight, or mass, of our contributions are our actions, such as our practical observance of a mitzvah. The quality and “character” of the contribution, on the other hand, is the intention and spirit of devotion with which we perform that mitzvah.

Now, one might assume that actions devoid of any conscious feelings or intent serve no purpose in making the Mishkan. After all, how can uninspired physical acts contribute toward making G-d manifest in our lives?

To dispel this notion, the Torah relates that Moshe specifically calculated the weight of the precious metals, meaning that he attributed significance not only to the worth of the donations but also to their weight. For even the mass—actual deed alone—was worthy enough in Moshe’s eyes to count and record.


The next time I am faced with an opportunity to do a mitzvah, but am left uninspired and wondering whether it will really be “meaningful” – I’ll remind myself that it’s only insignificant in my own eyes. In the eyes of Moshe – and in G-d’s eyes – it is worth its weight in gold!

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