Judaism: Start Building!
Levi ChazenLevi Chazen is the Director of the English Division of Yeshivat HaRa´ayon HaYehudi in Jerusalem. He has been working tirelessly over the years in the yeshiva´s many charitable projects in Jerusalem and nationally.
This Sunday marks the 48th Superbowl game, and it is certainly not called "Super Sunday" for nothing. Ponder the following and take a look at all the preparations that have gone into the big game: 80 million avocados will be eaten, 325 million gallons of beer will be drunk, 11 million pounds of potato chips will be devoured. It is expected that people will drink 2.3 million dollars worth of soda, Domino's Pizza expects to sell 11 million slices of pizza - enough to fill 21000 football fields. 3.8 million pounds of popcorn will be chowed down, and, of course,1.2 billion chicken wings will be consumed.
Lest we forget the tens of thousands of workers who have to prepare the field, the stadium, and the parking lots, and add to that the hundreds of thousands of police, fire, and emergency workers who will be working the game - all this goes towards the preparation for Superbowl Sunday.
Now imagine, if you will, that none of these preparations take place. Rather, the hundreds of thousands of workers who have to prepare for the big game actually just sit around and pray that all of the needed equipment, food and other items will come about by themselves. They pray that chicken wings will float down from heaven with barbecue sauce already on them, beer will be ready for all without the thousands of workers in the refinery who work to produce it. None of the workers prepare the field, but rather pray that the field will be prepared by itself. Obviously, no rational human being would think that only though prayer can the event take place, because G-d helps those who help themselves. This is self-evident.
So what is so hard for us to understand in this week's parsha, Terumah. G-d commands us "To build a sanctuary that He may dwell within". The Rambam derives from this, that "it is a positive commandment in all generations". Why, then, is it that when it comes to building G-d's House, the Holy Temple - nobody is prepared to lift a finger. At best, they would rather sit around and pray for it. It should be clear that if there is no preparation of workers, architects, engineers and building materials, the House will not be built.
One just needs to look back at history to understand this very basic concept. The building of the First Temple by King Solomon came about through hard work, blood, sweat and tears and took years to construct. The Bible clearly tells us that Solomon used 150 thousand workers in order to build G-d's House, not just prayers! Later, during the time of Ezra and Nechemia, together with the few minority of Jews who came back from the Babylonian exile, the people got to work right away to rebuild G-d's House. They did not sit around and just pray, but rather, they rolled up their sleeves and got dirty.
Yes, they could have used many excuses in order not to build, such as: The Messiah is not here, so how could we build the Temple without him, or, the majority of the Jewish people are still in exile, so how can we build without the majority here? No, none of these or other excuses were used. Instead of making excuses, they rolled up their sleeves, got busy and built a House for G-d so He could dwell amongst His people.
Understand clearly that this commandment was given to the Jewish people for them to fulfill, for the very nature of a commandment is to be fulfilled! If it would have been impossible for us to do, then it would not have been commanded by G-d. The fact that it was brought down as a commandment, proves that it is in our hands to do; moreover, it is our obligation to fulfill and build the House of G-d.
Many years ago the Prophet Hagai rebuked those who had returned to the Land after the destruction of the First Temple, telling them: "How can you sit in your permanent and well-constructed houses, while the House of the living G-d sits in ruins?"
In our parsha, the words used - to build, construct, and to make the Tabernacle - are repeated over 140 times. What is the Al-mighty trying to tell us by informing us over 140 times in one parsha "to build" - if not to get busy and get to work? This is NOT a time to be sitting around in prayer - it is a time for action, construction! That is the only way to get the job done!
Yes, my dear friends, there could be no Superbowl if there were no preparations of the hundreds of thousands of workers who put it all together. So, too, with the Holy Temple: There will never be a Temple until we roll up our sleeves, get our hands dirty and go out to fulfill the Word of G-d, The Mighty One of Jacob, to "build Me a House so that I can dwell within".
It is high time - way past time - to get busy on this project!