Rabbi Fein – Terumah 2019 – D’var Torah
A common piece of advice offered to students and adults alike when facing struggles is that Hashem never gives us a challenge that we cannot overcome. It provides us humans a sense of comfort to know that what we face in life is only present because Hashem willed it to be and He knows that it is something we can handle.
Yet, in this week’s Parsha we see that Hashem gives Moshe a seemingly impossible task.
וְעָשִׂיתָ מְנֹרַת זָהָב טָהוֹר מִקְשָׁה תֵּעָשֶׂה הַמְּנוֹרָה יְרֵכָהּ וְקָנָהּ גְּבִיעֶיהָ כַּפְתֹּרֶיהָ וּפְרָחֶיהָ מִמֶּנָּה יִהְיוּ׃ (שמות כה:כא)
“And you shall make a menorah of pure gold, hammered out shall the menorah be made. Its base, its shaft, it cups, its knobs, and its blossoms shall be (hammered) from it.” – Shemot 25:21
Out of all of the vessels that were needed to be created for the Mishkan (Hashem’s dwelling place), the Menorah was far and away the most intricate and complicated. So difficult was the design of the Menorah that even after hearing from Hashem how to create it, Moshe still didn’t understand how to execute and bring it to life. Nine verses later, the Torah relates that Hashem presented the Menorah in a fire because Moshe was having trouble making it. Rashi explains that Hashem eventually tells Moshe that all he needs to do is throw the clump of gold into the fire and it will form by itself – a miracle – to bring it to life.
The obvious question is – why would Hashem ask Moshe to perform a task that He knew would be too complicated for man to complete? Even showing the design in a fire, a further learning aid if you will, still didn’t bring him to successfully make the Menorah. If, in the end, Hashem knew that a miracle would be needed to create the Menorah, why does Hashem make Moshe waste time and energy into these steps.
This week I had the privilege of joining fellow community leaders in an important panel discussion on issues facing our children, and families, today. In answering one of the questions, I addressed the need for intentionality. Whether it’s regarding our rules and policies, the role of technology, or the way we go about instilling a love of Judaism in our homes, we need to live with intentionality.
I believe Hashem was teaching us a lesson about the three necessary steps to living life with intentionality:
- Clear Goals and Vision (Seeing the Menorah)– We cannot simply hope that our children learn proper values and how to navigate their complex world. Child development requires an understanding of how children learn and what drives their behaviors. Children require structure and clarity in order to thrive. In our homes, as in our classrooms, we must take the time to articulate our family mission statement – what’s most important to us? What qualities do we want our children to possess and why?
- Put in the work (Throw in the gold)- Children don’t learn by being told what to do or how to do it. They learn best when they are active participants in the experience. Additionally, modeling is one of the greatest ways for children to develop a schema of which behaviors are positive and which to avoid. Therefore, it is crucial that we recognize that we must model for our children the behaviors that we wish for them to learn. Furthermore, involving them in experiences will lead them to either engage or disengage from certain behaviors. If we wish our children to want to pray to Hashem, then we must make it a priority to have them engage in fun and meaningful (age-appropriate) prayer experiences. If we wish them to keep Shabbat, then we must make it an effort to create a Shabbat experience that is beautiful and engaging for our children.
- Partner with Hashem (Faith in Outcome) – Ultimately, as parents we know that even with all that we do, we cannot control how our children turn out. Children are human, and often times we see their mistakes, their pain, and their struggle as a reflection on our parenting job. We also often try to fix/solve their problems for them because we want what’s best for them. But we must acknowledge that from a young age each child is unique and is on a long-term journey for self-actualization. They will make mistakes, they will struggle, and they will feel pain. They will succeed and feel joy as well. We must never forget our most important partner in their journey which is Hashem. We must connect with Hashem regularly and make Him a part of our mission.
May we all merit the clarity to know what’s important, the courage and strength to execute even when it is difficult, and the faith that Hashem will guide us along the way.
Rabbi Yoni Fein
Head of School