“G-d spoke unto Moshe, saying: ‘On the first day of the first month, you are to set up the Tabernacle, the tent of meeting (Exodus 40:1-2).’”
Judaism teaches that G-d has a unique purpose for each and every one of us, and that G-d partners with us in bringing redemption into the world. We have a specific role to play in the cosmos. It is not enough to simply tell of G-d’s message, but we must be doers of G-d’s message as well. As James writes, we must not be merely hearers of what Torah says, but doers of what Torah teaches (James 1:22). And this is not just the position for leaders; it is what each and every one of us is required to do.
Commenting on this idea, the great Jewish believer, Paul Philip Levertoff (1878-1954), wrote:
“Man has been created by G-d in order that he may finish what G-d has deliberately left unfinished. Not that G-d needs the help of His creatures, but it is His love which causes Him to impart His own Nature to the work of His hands, in order that man should have the privelege and joy of being His fellow-worker in this world, in natural as well as in spiritual life (Love and the Messianic Age, p. 41).”
This partnership is the purpose for which we have been created. And this task is one of the very first commands given to us from G-d:
|טו וַיִּקַּח ה’ אֱלֹקים, אֶת-הָאָדָם; וַיַּנִּחֵהוּ בְגַן-עֵדֶן, לְעָבְדָהּ וּלְשָׁמְרָהּ.||15 And the LORD God took the man, and placed him in the garden of Eden to attend to it and to watch over it.|
We are placed in this world to not only know HaShem … but to become partners with G-d in bringing redemption into the world. Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach used to say that our role, as Jews, is to leave the world more Jewish than we found it. What he meant is that we are to be actively involved in making the world a better place. As Jews, we are to לְעָבְדָהּ וּלְשָׁמְרָהּ … to tend to the land He has placed us in, and engage with it … to infuse it with holiness … to redeem it and reveal to those around us the reality of HaShem. We must prepare the world for the return of Mashiach.
So, how is this supported in this week’s Torah portions? The answer is that G-d calls on Moshe to be personally involved in the building and erecting of the Tabernacle. In verse 40:2, G-d tells Moshe, “YOU are to set up the Tabernacle …” It was not enough for Moshe to merely hear the instructions from G-d; he was required to do it as well. Moshe himself was not only to be a leader, but also a servant.
Regarding this verse (Ex. 40:2), the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Menachem Mendel Schneerson, stated:
“This teaches that a person cannot only busy himself with his own spiritual development and Torah study. He needs to also be involved in helping others, just like G-d who wanted Moshe to be involved with the Tabernacle, not just as a spiritual leader and mentor, but also, ‘with his hands.'”
This also follows the leadership model described by Yeshua that the greatest shall be least, and the least shall be the greatest (Mat 20:16). And that the greatest leader is to be the servant of all (Mark 9:35). Each of us has an opportunity to partner with G-d in bringing redemption into the world. G-d has a role for each of us to play. The question is, are we willing to do it? For it is not enough to be only hearers of what Torah says, but we must be doers as well!