Friday, April 11, 2008

Chiropractors and the Jewish way

I just learned an absolutely incredible Sicha, one of those Sichos that blows your mind and replaces it with something bigger and better. The Sicha is in Hisvaadus 1985, page 2279. Basically, the Jews spent a lot of time in Egypt. A lot of that time they spent slaving away, building big things with stones. Can you imagine? It was like kindergarten for 86 years! No wonder those Egyptians got fed up! How would you like to teach the same class for nearly a century? I didn't think so.
Oh, right, back to the paradigm-changing Sicha. I was taught as a very young child that the Jews worked super-hard building shtuff in Egypt many years ago. I was also taught that the Egyptians had these really big pyramids built many years ago. I naturally put two and two together and figured out that the Jews built the pyramids. Later on my teachers revealed many secrets to me, one of which being the truth behind this whole slaving thing. The Torah says that the Jews built the storage cities of Pithom and Rameses. Hence, no pyramids. I wasn't particularly disappointed, because I really didn't have any particular connection to the whole idea anyway.
Anyway, so this morning I was perusing the afore-mentioned Farbrengen and I came across a Sicha in Parshas Nasso which deals with the inauguration sacrifices of the Princes and the building of the Mishkan. The Rebbe has a basic question. We know that the boards of the Mishkan were too heavy for the Jews to lift up, and therefore they needed Hashem's help to complete the construction of the Mishkan, the tabernacle. At the same time, the Rebbe relates, we know from history that the Jews built the pyramids, which were a lot heavier than the Mishkan. How is it that the Jews managed one but failed at the other? What, as the not so popular phrase goes, gives?
Incidentally, the Rebbe said, (and here I switch to first person to give it the verve which it otherwise lacked) "I remember being in Cheder where the teacher would say, when something was strong, incredible, and grand, that it was like Pithom and Rameses. He said this even though the Gemara learns that Pithom and Rameses, being built in a bog, would sink every night, so that it was never any higher than the previous day. Nevertheless, whenever the teacher wanted to describe something awesome, he called it a Pithom and Rameses.
The point is, the mind boggles when the pyramids are seen. The gigantic stones had to be brought in from other parts of the country, and then assembled, all without the aid of modern machinery.
How was it done? Simple. Many people, and we're talking thousands here folks, worked together. Paintings on the pyramids themselves, bring this point out, with pictures of lots of people working. Again, we have a simple question. One stone of the pyramids weighed a heck of a lot more than one board of the Mishkan (I'd guess that the entire Mishkan weighed the same as a couple of those boulders). At the very least, why couldn't a bunch of wandering Israelites get together and put the Mishkan up? Why was a miracle needed?
The answer is pretty simple. The Jews certainly could have put the boards up by themselves, but only by breaking their backs. How did they construct the Mishkan? With back-breaking labor. When Hashem commanded the Jews to build the Mishkan he said, "And you shall take from every person whose heart wants to give." Hashem didn't force anyone, rather it was dependent on each person to voluntarily give. We know that Hashem prohibits a stolen animal to be sacrificed. How much more so would Hashem not want the Mishkan to come from "stolen" goods.
We learn two things from this: 1. Hashem did not want the Jews to suffer while building the Mishkan, and 2. Hashem wanted the Jews to construct the Mishkan in a natural manner, with normal strength. This is why Hashem had to use a miracle to complete the Mishkan, because it was beyond normal human strength.
The lesson we can learn out from this in our everyday lives is an important one. A Jew's purpose in life, to make a dwelling place for Hashem down here, is not one that requires suffering to accomplish. Sure, sometimes a person needs Mesiras Nefesh, self-sacrifice, but that is not the normal way of life. Hashem wants us to work within nature, and then we will see results that are super-natural. Hashem set the world up with a schedule, six days you shall work, and the seventh you shall rest. By keeping to this, Hashem's schedule, He promises to bless your work, that the reaping should be much greater than the sowing. The Mishkan was not meant to be built with back-breaking labor, and our work should also be without extraordinary effort.
The main thing, the Rebbe says, is that we've already finished our labor down here, and there's no reason for us to remain enslaved in our present exile. Very soon we will merit the complete redemption, with the building of the third Beis Hamikdash, immediately in our days, Amen.

So why did I get so excited about all this? As the Gemara says, "Hashem does not come with excessive demands to his creations." This means that anything that Hashem does demand from us is within our grasp. Are Mitzvos difficult? sometimes. But we only have to expend a normal effort and Hashem will take care of the rest. Obviously, a person can't just lie around all day and make silly on the wall. People need to be productive. At the same time though, there's no need to slave away at things, because that's not what Hashem wants.


Anonymous said...

"The mind boggles when the pyramids are seen"

What's wrong with this sentence? (Hint:

Ht' Michoel Rose (Michael) said...

Didnt they only have the problem on the 8th day because until then they did put it up together but on the 8th day part of the avoda was that someone should put it up singlehandedly?

Just like a guy said...

e-1. to overwhelm or bewilder, as with the magnitude, complexity, or abnormality of: The speed of light boggles the mind.
2. to bungle; botch.
–verb (used without object)
3. to hesitate or waver because of scruples, fear, etc.
4. to start or jump with fear, alarm, or surprise; shrink; shy.
5. to bungle awkwardly.
6. to be overwhelmed or bewildered.
7. an act of shying or taking alarm.
8. a scruple; demur; hesitation.
9. bungle; botch.

American Psychological Association (APA):
boggle. (n.d.). Unabridged (v 1.1). Retrieved April 15, 2008, from website:
Chicago Manual Style (CMS):
boggle. Unabridged (v 1.1). Random House, Inc. (accessed: April 15, 2008).
Modern Language Association (MLA):
"boggle." Unabridged (v 1.1). Random House, Inc. 15 Apr. 2008.
What's your problem exactly?

As for Michoel...70 faces to Torah, baby.

e said...

The Pyramids (or the speed of light in the dictionary's example) boggle. The mind gets boggled.

Just like a guy said...

A trifling quibble.

e said...

Trifling quibble? Tell me, is it a trifling quibble when a train catches you instead of you catching a train? Or a shirt goes over you with an iron instead of you going over the shirt? Or a scandal exposes you instead of you exposing a scandal? Our your brain boggles pyramids instead of pyramids boggling your brain?

Just like a guy said...

Your eloquence, eliezer, is so overwhelming that all I can say is, "Good job."