AGAIN & AGAIN
Rabbi David Walk
Don't you hate it when you're reading to little kids, you're putting everything you've got into this amazing rendition of a childhood classic, and as soon as you finish the book or story, instead of a standing ovation or full throated 'Bravissimo!', they just say, 'Again!'? I mean can't we just read another story? I love reading to kids, especially my grandchildren. But that persistent 'again', just gets to me. On the other hand, many authorities claim that the repetition is good for the kid. The famous motivational writer and speaker, Zig Ziglar explained, 'Repetition is the mother of learning, the father of action, which makes it the architect of accomplishment.' Good quote, but it's boring after we've mastered the particular skill at hand. I just read a fascinating article that explains how good it is for the toddler (). So, we do it 'again', while muttering under our breath like Joe Pesci from Home Alone. However, at some point a little before middle school, repetition loses its charm. From that point on, you can tell the world's greatest story for the first time in years, and they'll whine, 'not again!' And that brings me to this week's double Torah reading. Why does this week's parsha repeat all the stuff about building the Mishkan from the readings Teruma and Tetzave, when I didn't find all those instructions very interesting in the first place? I mean this stuff reads like Lego instructions, which I also must read for my grandkids. So, why, oh why, do we repeat it?
We, therefore, really have two questions: Why are the instructions repeated, and why are they given in such excruciating detail? Let's be honest, we're not going to build a Mishkan in our backyards. For this week's discussion, I'm going to ignore a famous debate about the chronology of all these instructions. In this article, I'm only concerned with one big factor: The instructions in Teruma-Tetzave are recorded before the Sin of the Golden Calf and those in Vayakhel-Pekudei are listed afterwards. The material and its presentation must be seen in that light. Rav Avraham Wallfish points out that the process of the sin begins with, 'Vayikahel ha'am (and the nation gathered)', and our parsha begins Vayakhel. This new version of the material must be seen in light of the sin.
One major difference in the two renditions of the instructions is the terminology for the donations. First time round we have an emphasis on the term kicha (take). The donations were described as mandatory payments to be taken by the Mishkan Authority. I'm surprised there weren't toll booths for entering the Mishkan, in this first iteration of the mitzvah. However, the Kli Yakar emphasizes that in our repetition of the material the word which stands out in the description of the contributions of the Jewish nation is: nediv. This beautiful word describes true philanthropy: giving