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Parashat Vayak’hel-Pekudei – Living with Passion


“My only talent was being passionately curious.” -Albert Einstein

At the end of the book of Shemot, the Torah describes the generosity of the entire nation in their donations towards the building of the Tabernacle.

The gifts of gold, silver, copper, together with scarlet wool, linen, dyed ram skins, and acacia wood were diligently recorded. Finally, the gifts of the precious stones, which were necessary for the garment of the High Priest, the most valuable of all the donations that were donated by the princely leaders, are recognized at the end of the list of donors.

The reason the leaders held back their donations until the very end was because they reasoned that after everyone had made their donations, they would supply whatever was lacking. While this was a very noble attitude, they were sharply criticized in the Torah when their name is misspelled and written in an incomplete fashion, thereby diminishing their honor.

But what was wrong with the reasoning of the leaders? Was their intention not a noble one, to supply whatever was found to be missing?

In fact, their reasoning was sound and their intent was indeed noble, but the very fact that they were capable of logical calculations indicated a lack in the intensity of their devotion. A person who is overcome by an intensity of passion does not calculate but acts immediately.

When the nation was first asked to contribute to the construction of the Tabernacle, the leaders should have been so overcome with the desire to participate they should have been the first to donate.

The very fact that they held back their donation until the end revealed a lack of passion for this project.

Our sages elaborate on the need for passion as an important ingredient in the pursuit of one’s life’s goals, no matter what they are, and it is essential in order to counteract the hesitancy and inertia that comes from our natural physical nature.

~ Rabbi Shaul