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While “God helps those who help themselves,” the first step is developing a clear vision of the goals you want to achieve.

By: Rabbi Ari Enkin, Rabbinic Director, United with Israel

This week’s Torah portion is Teruma (Exodus 25:1–27:19) and in it we read about the construction of the various utensils that were a part of the Mishkan (the Tabernacle). The Mishkan was the portable synagogue that the Jewish people schlepped along with them as they wandered the desert for forty years.

Eventually, the Mishkan was exchanged for the Beit Hamikdash, the Holy Temple in Jerusalem. The workings, rules, and utensils of both the Mishkan and the Temple were essentially the same. In this article I would like to focus on the construction of the Menorah – a symbol of the State of Israel, Chanukah, and even the Jewish people

We are told that although Moses was able to oversee the construction of all the other utensils of the Mishkan, he simply couldn’t figure out how the Menorah was supposed to look or how it was to be constructed. As such, God showed him an image of what the Menorah was supposed to look like (Google Images?).

This image of the Menorah that God showed Moses was that of a Menorah made of fire. Moses examined the image but was still unable to figure out what to do. It seems that the image of a fiery Menorah was too abstract and esoteric for him. God then gave up, so to speak, and simply instructed Moses to throw the block of gold that was to be used to construct the menorah into a fire, and the menorah then miraculously emerged fully constructed.

The question is asked: God knows everything, and therefore God knew that Moses would not be able to construct the menorah. God knew that He was going to end up having to perform that miracle with the fire to get the menorah constructed. So why did He put Moses through the ringer in the first place?

The answer is that God wanted Moses to see the shape and form of the Menorah — even if he would not be able to duplicate it. This was in order to teach us that we must always have a vision, an image – a dream to strive for, even if we may likely never accomplish it. A person must always dream, visualize, and “see images” of the things one wants to accomplish.

Of course God knew that Moses would not be able to construct the Menorah, but He wanted Moses to have a vision of the project, an image of what he was to strive for. This teaches that when we are focused on our goals, God will do his part to help us, as long as we put in the effort ourselves.

As the saying goes, “God helps those who help themselves.” The final product is not always in our hands, and success is never guaranteed but we must still have the dreams and do everything we can to fulfill them. God will do His part if it is meant to happen.

For more insights by Rabbi Ari Enkin on this week’s Torah reading, click on the links below: