The Most Successful Building Campaign, Ever!
Kimat all of us belong to at least one shul, many hold multiple memberships. Belonging to a shul is typically not free; punk farkert (just the opposite), it’s quite expensive. Shuls always need money. Why? Azoy iz iz (it’s just how it is). From time to time, shuls need to expand and or build a new building. These expansions are funded by building campaigns which typically run a few years, donations from those inclined to give, and by various dues assessed on the membership.
The Mishkan (Tabernacle) project, which we first read about in Parshas Teruma and Tetzaveh, is again discussed in this week’s parsha of Vayakhale, read in this leap year, as a singleton. The campaign began and was over in less than one week. And just like that, the entire project -structures, vessels, and items needed for interior decorations- was fully funded. Astounding!
Several weeks ago, we read how the RBSO ordered the building of the Mishkan. He gave Moishe full architectural and design plans which included very detailed architectural plans, specific dimensions of every wall, including interior decor. This week, the project begins in earnest. Let’s read a few pisukim to lean how the items on the materials list were accumulated and what happened next. Having gathered all the Yiddin -hence the first word of the parsha -Vayakhale- and telling them what to donate and bring, Moishe sat back as his tent began to fill up with gold, silver, copper, and all other items on the requested materials list. Let us now read a few key pisukim (verses) from the heylige Toirah (Shemois 36: 3-7) which tell us azoy:
|3. So they took from before Moishe all the offering[s] that the children of Israel had brought for the work of the service of the Holy, and they brought him more gifts every morning.
|גוַיִּקְח֞וּ מִלִּפְנֵ֣י משֶׁ֗ה אֵ֤ת כָּל־הַתְּרוּמָה֙ אֲשֶׁ֨ר הֵבִ֜יאוּ בְּנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֗ל לִמְלֶ֛אכֶת עֲבֹדַ֥ת הַקֹּ֖דֶשׁ לַֽעֲשׂ֣ת אֹתָ֑הּ וְ֠הֵ֠ם הֵבִ֨יאוּ אֵלָ֥יו ע֛וֹד נְדָבָ֖ה בַּבֹּ֥קֶר בַּבֹּֽקֶר:|
|4. Then all the wise men who were doing the work of the Holy came, each one from his work, which they had been doing.||דוַיָּבֹ֨אוּ֙ כָּל־הַ֣חֲכָמִ֔ים הָֽעֹשִׂ֕ים אֵ֖ת כָּל־מְלֶ֣אכֶת הַקֹּ֑דֶשׁ אִֽישׁ־אִ֥ישׁ מִמְּלַאכְתּ֖וֹ אֲשֶׁר־הֵ֥מָּה עֹשִֽׂים:|
|5. And they spoke to Moishe, saying: “The people are bringing very much, more than is enough for the labor of the articles which the Lord had commanded to do.”||הוַיֹּֽאמְרוּ֙ אֶל־משֶׁ֣ה לֵּאמֹ֔ר מַרְבִּ֥ים הָעָ֖ם לְהָבִ֑יא מִדֵּ֤י הָֽעֲבֹדָה֙ לַמְּלָאכָ֔ה אֲשֶׁר־צִוָּ֥ה יְהֹוָ֖ה לַֽעֲשׂ֥ת אֹתָֽהּ:|
|6. So Moishe commanded, and they announced in the camp, saying: “Let no man or woman do any more work for the offering for the Holy.” So the people stopped bringing.
|ווַיְצַ֣ו משֶׁ֗ה וַיַּֽעֲבִ֨ירוּ ק֥וֹל בַּמַּֽחֲנֶה֘ לֵאמֹר֒ אִ֣ישׁ וְאִשָּׁ֗ה אַל־יַֽעֲשׂוּ־ע֛וֹד מְלָאכָ֖ה לִתְרוּמַ֣ת הַקֹּ֑דֶשׁ וַיִּכָּלֵ֥א הָעָ֖ם מֵֽהָבִֽיא:|
|7. And the work was sufficient for them for all the work, to do it and there was extra.||זוְהַמְּלָאכָ֗ה הָֽיְתָ֥ה דַיָּ֛ם לְכָל־הַמְּלָאכָ֖ה לַֽעֲשׂ֣וֹת אֹתָ֑הּ וְהוֹתֵֽר:|
You hear this raboyseyee? Moishe announced the materials list. The Yiddin – men and women- went home and gathered all the items. Posik 3 tells us they came bearing gifts for the Mishkan “in the morning, in the morning.” What’s pshat? How many mornings did they come? How long did the gift-for-the Mishkan campaign last? Says the Ohr Hachaim: not all the gifts arrived in one day. Several of the items, the spun yarn, the scarlet and purple wool, and the goat hair, required the skills of embroidery and weaving. Those items were delivered to Moishe’s tent, as they were manufactured. Ober, all other gifts, and specifically, the gold, silver, copper and maybe even the Atzei Shitim (the acacia wood) were seemingly delivered in one day. Ober says the Likutai Bavli Yirushalmi so gishmak, azoy: the very words of the heylige Toirah which told us that the Yiddin came “in the mooning, in the morning,” require further elucidation. The Toirah could easily have told us that the Yiddin arrived daily with their gifts.
Ober says the Likutai that pshat is like this: we learn from here that these words are rather significant. We learn that when the munn (manna) fell from heaven daily, a number of people received theirs encrusted with precious stones, maybe even a few diamonds and so taka says the heylige Gemora (Yuma 75). Over three thousand years later, a number of songs referencing ‘diamonds in, or from the sky’ would hit the billboards, mistama after songwriters, including John Lennon & Paul McCartney, Rihanna, Jesse Barrera, and Pieta Brown read the gemora. In any event, during the campaign, as munn was delivered encrusted with stones -and the munn as we all know, was always delivered in the mornings- these precious stones too, were delivered to the Mishkan. Does everyone agree that the campaign lasted at least several days? Yes but not all agree if the campaign ran two or three days. Says the Ramban: the entire campaign lasted as long as three days making it by far the most successful fundraising campaign ever. Nu, let’s not forget that the Mishkan project came about following the sin of the eygel (golden calf) during which a healthy number of Yiddin -just 40 days after Matan Toirah (Revelation), shreklich as that may sound and it is, sinned not just through idolatry but also -we are taught- by committing various forbidden sexual acts. The heylige Toirah went out of its way to tell us that the Yiddin got up “li’tzachake,” a term we have seen before and which, at times, refers to sexual activity. The RBSO was quite upset. In any event, the RBSO had just spared the lives of the Yiddin. Perhaps they responded to this project with such zeal and gusto to overcome their guilt for the zeal and gusto they showed while sinning. Ver veyst. As an aside, ever since, men continue to bring precious stones and other jewels when assuaging their guilt, if you chap. It has been known to work.
Did the Yiddin deliver enough of all materials to build the Mishkan and its accoutrements? OMG, yes! Maybe more as we shall read below. Next: various artisans -under the direction of 13 year old Betzalel, the project foreman, and his assistant Oh’ho’liov- both designated by the RBSO to oversee, build, and decorate the entire project, joined the team. And then? Posik 5 tells us that the donors kept bringing gifts -off the materials registry list- “morning after morning.” Next: The artisans complained to Moishe that the Yiddin were bringing more than enough for the labor of the work the RBSO required for the project. You hear this? The project was being over-funded! Has this ever happened since? Has any shul campaign you have been a part of, ever been overfunded? Was there ever a shul built and decorated only with cash already donated and received? Without a mortgage which at times is personally guaranteed by the shul’s officers and directors? Mistama not! What happened during the Mishkan project that caused a flood of donations to keep coming “day by day” until it was “more” than required? Posik 7 tells us “And the work was enough for all the work, and there was extra.” More than enough and then extra? Which was it? Was there enough, or, was there extra? What’s pshat?
Moreover, who would complain if extra was donated and stored for a rainy day? What caused the artisans to say or maybe complain to Moishe that the Yiddin were donating too much? Were these people real Jews? Why did Moishe stop the campaign? Do not the words “enough” and “too much” contradict one another? Asks the Ohr Hachaim taka azoy: what exactly was wrong with people continuing to donate? Would harm have been caused were the Mishkan to have a storeroom filled with gold, silver, and other valuables? Do extra valuables not add splendor to the RBSO’s abode here on earth? What’s taka pshat? How much is too much?
Nu, though these pisukim may not have stood out to you, several pontificated on these seemingly mutually exclusive terms. They too, mistama based on real life experiences -where those in charge of schnorring for any shul’s maintenance, and avada for an expansion or building campaign- have suffered through many a sleepless night worrying about donations. They too were bewildered by the great, and never to be seen again success of the Mishkan campaign described in these pisukim. Lommer lernin what a few had to say.
Says the Seforno: perhaps the artisans complained because they knew that the RBSO gave the Yiddin very specific instructions which included exact dimensions of every structure and vessel. They knew just how much was needed to fashion curtains and all else. They also knew that if the RBSO was that exact and specific, mistama no one had the right to add or subtract. Says the Ohr Hachaim -answering his own question- azoy: When Moishe in posik 6 put an end to the campaign by telling the good and generous people not to bring any more, he only meant for them not to bring any more materials such as the wools in various colors, spun yarn, and goat hair. Ober, there was seemingly no such stop order on gold, silver and other valuables. And he knows this how and from where? From posik 6 where Moishe announced that no more should be brought for the “labor” of the Mishkan. What requires labor? Materials such as yarn, goat’s hair and wool, for they were used to fashion -through embroidery and other crafts, the curtains, clothing and other items. Ober gold, silver and copper were still being accepted. Seemingly, there is always a need for gold and silver. The stop order was on textiles. The bottom line: there is seemingly a limit on schmattis, ober don’t bother telling that to your wives. Thankfully, Moishe did not ask for shoes to be delivered; the campaign might still be ongoing today. Women don’t part with their shoes; they’d sooner give up their husbands! Shoin. Once Moishe heard the craftsmen tell him that they had enough textiles to complete the job, he did not want the good women who were spinning or coloring these items, to waste any more of their valuable time. Alternatively, Moishe was efsher concerned that these extra materials could, or would deteriorate if stored. Gold, unlike bitcoin, does not go bad!
Ober why does the heylige Toirah in posik 7 above tell us the work was “enough and too much?” Which was it? Says the Ohr Hachaim (who really got into this subject), azoy: perhaps the RBSO wanted to tell us just how much the RBSO appreciated the Yiddin’s efforts on this project. His fondness for the Yiddin increased as He witnessed how they responded to the campaign. That being said, what happened to the “too much” materials that were donated? Shoin: the RBSO performed yet another miracle for the Yiddin and let’s not forget that this generation of Yiddin were eye witnesses to a litany of miracles. The RBSO made the “too much” become necessary. Somehow, in the end, though the Yiddin collectively may have brought too much, not all could afford to and did. Those with less mistama gave less, ober they did so with a full heart. The rich gave more -efsher they also got a plaque, ver veyst. Ober the RBSO valued each participant’s donations, no matter its size. (Unless of course the poor gave more and the rich less.) Speaking of good intentions, says the heylige Gemora (Shabbis 33a), azoy: one who intended to perform a mitzvah and by accident -through no fault of his own- was unable to complete his intentions, it is considered as if he carried out the mitzvah. In any event, the RBSO caused each of their donations to become absorbed into the project so that each and every participant could feel good about his or her donation. Gishmak. Another view on “enough vs. too much” goes like this: Had the Yiddin brought just enough to fund the campaign, each might have thought that it was his/her donation that facilitated the project to its completion, and through that donation, helped facilitate the RBSO’s essence coming to reside in the Mishkan. To avoid such arrogance, the RBSO caused the project to be overfunded; no one person could take undeserved credit.
The bottom line: when it comes to giving, the RBSO certainly admires those who have and give. He also admires -maybe just as much, efsher even more, those who don’t have but give what they can afford, and would give even more.
A gittin Shabbis-
The Heylige Oisvorfer Ruv