Dedicated in honor of the wedding of Zvi Menken to Devorah Krycer on March 11, 24 Adar.
“Like all that G-d Commanded Moshe, so the Children of Israel did all of the work. And Moshe saw all the labor, and behold, they had done it; in accordance with what G-d had Commanded, so they did, and Moshe blessed them.” [39:42-43]
This appears to be repetitive. Why must it go back and say that “in accordance with what G-d had Commanded, so they did?” We already know that they “did all of the work” “like all that G-d Commanded Moshe!”
The Chasam Sofer explains: “labor,” or melacha in Hebrew, refers to what they actually did with their hands, while “work,” or avoda, refers to the effort, the motivation in their heart, even without action. Avoda can also be translated as “service,” which makes this dichotomy easier to understand. In the Shema, we read that we are to “love the L-rd your G-d and to serve Him with all your heart and with all your soul.” [Deut. 11:13] Our Sages ask [Talmud Ta’anis 2a]: “What is the ‘service’ that is in the heart? This refers to prayer.”
The verse says, “Like all that G-d commanded Moshe, so the Children of Israel did all of the work.” They did it as HaShem wanted it: they “put their hearts into it.” They did the work with a full heart.
How did Moshe know this? How could he tell that they gave of themselves with a full heart? The verse tells us: “And Moshe saw all the labor, and behold, they had done it, in accordance with what G-d had commanded…” He saw that the work had been done completely and to perfection, without any omissions or defects. From this, he recognized that they obviously were totally dedicated to the work, with purest intent, as HaShem desired.
Had they lacked this purity of heart, they would not have merited such success, to produce perfection. Only with total dedication could the result be that “in accordance with all that HaShem Commanded, so they did.” And for this, Moshe blessed them.
If a person’s motivation is to produce something perfect for G-d, then he or she will be concentrating entirely upon the product. But if, on the other hand, a person also has an individual agenda, for self-glorification, fame or reward, then this can lead down the path of destruction. All of a sudden, I’m not looking for perfection — I’m looking to be better than everyone else. Perfection is where everything fits together. But in order to be superior, bigger, greater, then my product cannot be identical to someone else’s, and cannot mesh with his.
The result cannot be perfect. The result will fall apart.
When we work for a cause greater than ourselves, that is when we can see success. It is what benefits G-d and others, rather than what serves our own needs and wants, that merits the best result.