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Do It Yourself

06/14/2019 02:34:37 PM

Jun14

Long before there was IKEA and DIY construction, there was the Mishkan - Holy Tabernacle - in the desert, nearly three and a half thousand years ago.

The Mishkan was a mini-Temple, and was designed to be portable, so it can be dismantled at any time when the Jews would travel in the desert. When the Jews would pitch camp, the Mishkan was quickly reconstructed.

When traveling, the Levites were in charge of transporting the Mishkan. Special wagons were designed to carefully store and transport the precious and delicate pieces.

The family of Merari were in charge of the wooden beams that were used for the perimeter walls. The family of Gershon were in charge of the tapestries and hides that were used for the roof and internal walls. The family of Kehot were in charge of transporting the larger furniture, such as the Menorah-Candelebra, Mizbeach-Alter, Aron-Holy Ark.

Merari and Gershon used the wagons to transport their materials. However, Kehot were not permitted to use wagons, and were required to personally carry the furniture. Why?

The Torah explains, because the furniture items were more sacred than the other materials. The beams, hides and tapestries were indeed holy items, but their function was to facilitate the holy space. The furniture pieces were actually used in the holy worship.
The more precious something is, the more we want to hold it close to us, and be personally involved.

I know many people who won't pack their tefillin inside their suitcase, and insist on carrying them onto the plane with them. Not just out of concern that their luggage might not arrive with them, but because of their love for the precious tefillin.

I once saw a mother holding her baby and pushing a stroller. Inside the stroller were grocery bags. When I asked her why she didn't place the baby in the stroller (after all, it's easier to carry lifeless bags than a jumpy baby income hand), she answered that she prefers to keep her baby closer to herself more than her bags.

A father once shared with me: he was walking with his son down the street when the person in front of them dropped something. He was about to instruct his son to pick it up, but then changed his mind, picked it up himself and returned it to the other person. He asked me if he did the right thing? I answered, that sometimes it is appropriate to ask the child do it, to educate them about the importance of helping others. But sometimes it is important that you do it yourself, because personally doing a mitzvah instead of outsourcing to others is a big mitzvah. And, I added, the educational lesson you display to your child is invaluable.

We all have things that we outsource to others, and things that we choose to be personally involved. The question is, are we appropriately prioritizing these tasks?

Yesterday I visited an elderly wheel-chair-bound person at a nursing home. He is a dear friend, and we can spend hours talking, laughing and crying together. When it came time to leave, he asked to escort me to the front door of the building. The nurse came and began pushing his wheel-chair alongside me. Then it dawned on me, and I told the nurse I'd like to push my friend. As I pushed, it was harder to hear his soft voice from behind him, so we moved along in silence. When we got to the front door and I said good-bye, he told me how appreciative he was that I honored him by pushing his wheel-chair. I told him that I was the one who felt honored.

In the car, when I reflected on my visit, I realized that he appreciated me pushing him more than our hours of conversation.

The Talmud teaches a very important lesson: "מצוה בו יותר מבשלוחו" - "It is preferable to do something yourself than to appoint an agent to do it." Even though there are many times when the law permits us to appoint an agent, there are things we should always prioritize to do ourselves.

Fri, September 20 2019 20 Elul 5779