Precision and proportionality in routine and emergency
Parsha in the everyday life - Parashat Vayakhel Pekudei - HaChodesh - Rabbi Eliezer Shenvald -5780
The meticulous report given at the beginning of Parashat Pekudei is in fact a summary of the Mishkan's Parshiot. The report includes a precise detail: how much was collected, what type, and what was it used for. Accuracy characterizes the Mishkan's Parshiot from Parashat Truma onward, including the accuracy of the dimensions, types of materials and quantities. At the end of the Parasha, the Torah also emphasizes the precision of the establishment of the Tabernacle; in absolute accordance with the Divine command:
וַתֵּ֕כֶל כָּל־עֲבֹדַ֕ת מִשְׁכַּ֖ן אֹ֣הֶל מוֹעֵ֑ד וַֽיַּעֲשׂוּ֙ בְּנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל כְּ֠כֹל אֲשֶׁ֨ר צִוָּ֧ה ה' אֶת־מֹשֶׁ֖ה כֵּ֥ן עָשֽׂוּ׃....כְּכֹ֛ל אֲשֶׁר־צִוָּ֥ה ה' אֶת־מֹשֶׁ֑ה כֵּ֤ן עָשׂוּ֙ בְּנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל אֵ֖ת כָּל־הָעֲבֹדָֽה׃ וַיַּ֨רְא מֹשֶׁ֜ה אֶת־כָּל־הַמְּלָאכָ֗ה וְהִנֵּה֙ עָשׂ֣וּ אֹתָ֔הּ כַּאֲשֶׁ֛ר צִוָּ֥ה ה' כֵּ֣ן עָשׂ֑וּ וַיְבָ֥רֶךְ אֹתָ֖ם מֹשֶֽׁה׃
"Thus was completed all the work of the Tabernacle of the Tent of Meeting. The Israelites did so; just as Hashem had commanded Moshe, so they did".
“Just as Hashem had commanded Moshe, so the Israelites had done all the work. And when Moshe saw that they had performed all the tasks—as Hashem had commanded, so they had done—Moshe blessed them”
In the Parashot Vayakhel-Pekudei, the Torah mentions more than ten times that Moshe made the Tabernacle כַּאֲשֶׁ֛ר צִוָּ֥ה ה' " just as Hashem had commanded ". That the Mishkan and its tools were made precisely according to the dimensions of the Divine Order:
מֹשֶׁה רַבֵּנוּ, כָּל מַה שֶּׁאָמַרְתָּ לָנוּ עָשִׂינוּ, וְכָל מַה שֶּׁצִּוִּיתָנוּ לִתֵּן וּלְהוֹצִיא נָתַנּוּ הַכֹּל, וַהֲרֵי כָּל הַמְּלָאכָה לְפָנֶיךָ, שֶׁמָּא חִסַּרְנוּ שׁוּם דָּבָר אוֹ וִתַּרְנוּ עַל כָּל מַה שֶּׁאָמַרְתָּ לָּנוּ, רְאֵה הַכֹּל לְפָנֶיךָ. וְהָיוּ מַרְאִין לוֹ כָּל דָּבָר וְדָבָר, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר: וַיָּבִיאוּ אֶת הַמִשְׁכָּן אֶל מֹשֶׁה וְגוֹ'. וּכְתִיב: וַיַּרְא מֹשֶׁה אֶת כָּל הַמְּלָאכָה וְגוֹ'. אָמְרוּ לוֹ: לֹא כָךְ וְכָךְ אָמַרְתָּ לָנוּ לַעֲשׂוֹת. אָמַר לָהֶם: הֵן. וְכֵן עַל כָּל דָּבָר וְדָבָר...
…all the Israelites approached Moshe saying: “Moshe, our master, everything you told us we have done, and everything you asked us to bring and to give, we have given: Behold, all the work of the Tabernacle. Perhaps we have overlooked something, or perhaps something else should be added to what you told us. See, everything is here,” and they showed it all to him, as it is said: And they brought the Tabernacle unto Moshe and Moshe saw all the work. They said to him: “Did you not tell us to do such-and-such?” He replied: “Yes, indeed.” (Midrash Tanchuma Pekudei 11).
Precision and proportionality are two sides of the same coin. When you look for accuracy you find the right limits and proportionality - no less and no more: כן עשו They did exactly as instructed, neither adding nor subtracting from the instructions. (Sforno ibid).
When engaged in the practical application of things that are grounded in the spiritual world, which is above the limits of physical measure, there is a tendency to underestimate the value of precision and proportionality, and to do everything "roughly" and in approximation rather than precisely. There is a tendency to think that there are no limits and וְכָל הַמּוֹסִיף, מוֹסִיפִין לוֹ “And the more a person studies the more blessing he receives from Heaven” (according to Taanit 31b), and ignoring the fact that sometimes כָּל הַמּוֹסִיף גּוֹרֵעַ All who add, detract (Tosafot on Sukkah 31b).
“שכשם שאנו מצווים שלא להתיר את האסור, כך אנו מצווים שלא לאסור את המותר כדי שלא להפסיד את ממונם של ישראל שהתורה חסה על ממונן”.
"The same way we are commanded not to allow the prohibited, so we are commanded not to forbid what is allowed so as not to cause losses in the finances of Israel "(Sefer HaPardes - attributed to Rashi).
It is very important to emphasize the precision and proportionality that G-d has commanded, precisely in the establishment of the Tabernacle that is intended to immerse the Divine Shkhinah in the physical world. (Midrash Tanchuma Nasso 11). The measure of every single thing in itself and in the way different things fit into each other. That one thing should not come at the expense of the other.
Precision and proportionality are divine measures. The infinity of G-d has no limits and dimensions on its own, but G-d has chosen to be revealed in Creation and the Divine Leadership with proportionality and precision. That is exactly the symbolism of the name of G-d, ‘Sha-ddai,’ (that is written on the back of the parchment of every mezuzah); as the Midrash expands the acronym — שֶׁאָמַר לְעוֹלָמוֹ דַּי “zeh sheamar leolamo dai,” the One who told His world to stop. (Chagigah 12a)
This principle was also understood throughout all the nations of the world. In ancient Greece, on the walls of the Temple of Apollo at Delphi was inscribed: ΓΝΩΘΙ ΣΑΥΤΟΝ (know thyself) and ΜΗΔΕΝ ΑΓΑΝ (nothing in excess).
We must learn from this about our own lives. Implementing Torah in our everyday life, in every matter, routine and emergency, the people on the line of duty and the spiritual leadership alike. We must remember that "every degree of extremism can be harmful" (Igrot Reiyah).
We are in the midst of the Corona crisis that presents us with extraordinary challenges. During this period, there are practical implications in several aspects that have a need for proportionality.
On the one hand, one must not take unnecessary risks אין סומכין על הנס "One does not (should not) rely on miracles” (Yerushalmi Yomah 1:4). On the other hand, do not lose your composure and not go into hysteria and lose proportions: "On caution - be careful not to increase” (introduction to the Duties of the Hearts - Chovot HaLevavot).
The governmental authorities, which are responsible for the Ministry of Health and the National Security Council, are constantly on a professional examination on the extent of exacerbating the safeguards at the expense of routine and the economy paralysis. In spiritual areas, too, we must act proportionately.
One of the issues that was discussed was the existence of Minyanim and the operation of the Synagogues. From one end we saw groups that did not obey the authorities' instructions because of their religious outlook, and from the other, those who rushed to close the synagogue to any activity even the one permitted by the authorities and contrary to the directive of the Chief Rabbinate of Israel.
Here too, from their religious outlook to exacerbate 'Pikuach Nefesh' (Saving a life). We called for proportionality in accordance with the responsible authorities.
Proportionality is needed for another reason. There needs to be taken into account that this crisis is not going to end soon! If we make the demands disproportionate, we may find ourselves at a stage where people are breaking down and become disrespectful. Then it will be more dangerous.
Let’s all pray to Hashem, that the crisis will soon end, and we shall return to a routine, in health and no harm.