Saturday, February 28, 2009

making the menorah: effort is what counts

Rashi (25:40) cites the well known Chazal that Moshe could not understand how to make the menorah until he was shown a vision of a menorah of fire by Hashem. Yet, Rashi earlier (25:31) explains that the Torah uses the passive voice "tei'aseh hamenorah", "the menorah was made", because Moshe could not make the menorah and therefore just tossed the gold into the fire and it came out by itself. If the menorah was impossible for Moshe to make himself, what was the point of showing him the image of the menorah in response to his confusion? The problem of how to make the menorah remained unsolved!

The Maharal (Gur Aryeh) says a beautiful yesod: while the menorah might have been impossible for Moshe to independently make, that did not excuse him from making an effort. Without the image of the menorah of fire, Moshe could not even begin work on the menorah because the goal was unclear. Once shown the image, he could at least try. And that's all Hashem wants -- try, make an effort! Even if what is demanded seems impossible, do what you can and let Him worry about bringing things to completion.

As my wife wrote in her post that I referenced earlier, the Imahos were by definition destined to be the foremothers of the Jewish people. Hashem made them barren because living one's destiny is not sufficient --- Hashem wants a person to make an effort to bring about that destiny, even an effort of expressing personal desire through prayer to achieve what can only come to fruition with Hashem's help.

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