Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Getting Dirty

By Rabbi Pinchos Lipschutz

Look around you at the people who have used their lives to make an enduring difference. Examine some of the people who have really made the world a better place and see what is different about them. Taking a careful look, you will often discover an ordinary person, with one difference: he stuck his neck out and worked to right wrongs. He saw a vacuum and sought to fill it.

With dogged determination and persistence, he fought off the urge to pull back and give up. He ignored the nagging voices that said it couldn’t be done and dug deep into the recesses of his soul to find the strength and succor to accomplish his mission.

People like this refuse to be discouraged by those who advise them that their goals are impossible to attain.

We often hear such an individual being praised for “accomplishing the impossible,” almost as if he pulled off something supernatural, against the natural order. The truth is that the person may have indeed gone far beyond the norm in dedication, sacrifice and commitment.

But even that is not what brought him success. He tasted success only because the Divine Hand enabled him to do so, or else it truly would have been impossible to achieve what he did.

Anyone who walks this earth with his eyes open is aware of the Yad Hashem that touches us every moment of our lives. We see siyata diShmaya constantly. We work hard to accomplish our goal and then Hashem takes over.

Every person was created to carry out a mission in life. Those who succeed are the ones who don’t let anything deter them for long. With faith in the One Above, they ignore the difficulties that would throw off lesser men. They continue their hishtadlus with the knowledge that Hashem will assist them and take over for them at the proper time.

This week’s parsha of Beha’aloscha offers a paradigm of how man’s wholehearted efforts to be mekadeish sheim Shomayim, elicit Divine favor. The parsha discusses the mitzvah of lighting the menorah. The first Rashi on the parsha explains why this mitzvah follows the recitation of the korbanos that the nesiim of the shevatim brought to inaugurate the Mishkan in Parshas Naso.

Aharon Hakohein was upset that he had no part in the chanukas haMishkan. Hakadosh Brouch Hu told him, “Shel’cha gedolah mishelahem - Your share is greater than that of the nesi’im, she’atah madlik umeitiv es haneiros - because you set up and light the wicks of the menorah.”

The second Rashi explains that the word beha’aloscha indicates that the kohein kindles the wick until the fire rises by itself - “ad shetehei shalheves olah mei’eileha.”

The kohein is commanded to clean out the vessel and light the menorah, but he is told that in the end, it will light by itself. It is his duty to be meitiv, which also can be translated to mean doing good with others. Indeed, Aharon Hakohein was an oheiv shalom verodeif shalom. A kohein who is meitiv, a kohen who is prepared to reach in and do the dirty work, will merit that G-d will help him and the light will be lit by itself, if he just carries out the initial steps of lighting it.

The kohein is told that if he does the initial hishtadlus; gets his hands dirty and has the requisite belief and commitment to actualize his shlichus, he is promised that the task will be completed by Hashem.

Shel’cha gedolah mishel-ahem. Thus, the act of kindling the menorah is greater than the korbanos that the nesi’im brought for the chanukas haMishkan. The avodas hahakrovah was not even done by them.

Such a donation to the Mishkan does not have the same everlasting impact as the hadlokah and hatovah performed by the kohein himself, as he was waiting for the shalheves to be oleh mei’eileha.

In last week’s parsha (7:9), we learned that the Bnei Kehos weren’t given wagons to assist them in carrying the keilim of the Mishkan throughout the Midbar as were the Bnei Gershon and Bnei Merori. The posuk states regarding the Bnei Kehos, “Avodas hakodesh aleihem bakoseif yiso’uh.” Since they were given the job of carrying the aron, mizbei’ach, shulchan and menorah, they had to carry them on their shoulders, as the sanctity of these objects did not permit them to be placed in wagons for transport.

Chazal say that “aron nosei es nosav,” the aron carried those who carried it. Thus, even though the Bnei Kehos place the aron on their shoulders to transport it, carrying it did not require more than the initial effort of lifting. Following that initial exertion, they were in fact assisted by Hashem; the heavy keilim they shouldered actually carried them.

Those who endeavor to accomplish and spread holiness in this world and are prepared to do the heavy lifting are granted Heavenly assistance to complete the task.

The fact is that although our efforts contribute very little to the actual results, there is a factor we do control. Our mesiras nefesh plays a major role in evoking siyata diShmaya.

The only limits to what we can accomplish are those which we set by ourselves. If we let the forces of negativity and cynicism get to us, we will achieve as little as those who cultivate the negative forces. If we ignore the chorus of naysayers and nitpickers, there is no limit to what we can achieve to benefit our generation and generations to come.

Let us set out to be madlik and meitiv to the best of our abilities and then watch as the shalheves is olah mei’eileha. Our children and neighbors will bless us and our cheilek will be with Aharon Hakohein.


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