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Parashat Termuah – Humanly Righteous


“They will make for Me a sanctuary and I will dwell in their midst.”

Our tradition relates that when Moshe was given the commandment to build the sanctuary which would house the Divine Presence, he was bewildered. 

“The entire universe cannot contain the infinite, how can an enclosed structure house the Divine Presence?” 

To this, G-d responded, “My concept of a dwelling place is not like yours. The sanctuary’s dimensions are not according to My dimensions, but according to those of the Israelites.” 

Our sages explain this to mean that G-d does not expect the impossible from mankind. If our accomplishments would be measured against the infinite Creator, they would never suffice. Rather, we are only expected to do what is possible, that which is humanly achievable. 

We are measured by the amount of effort and dedication we infuse into our lives and doing that which is within our means. Not withdrawing or retreating into the spiritual world of seclusion and study. Quite the contrary, man is expected to work and shape this world, to interact with humanity, to build and devote ourselves to family and to socialize with friends. The great Rabbi of Kotzk (1787–1859) famously said, “G-d has an abundance of angels, He doesn’t need man to be angelic, but only humanly righteous.” 

~ Rabbi Shaul