Where More is Less

June 3, 2019 at 2:50 PM , , ,

“…They brought their offering before G-d: six covered wagons and twelve oxen, a wagon from each two princes, and an ox from each one…” – Bamidbar 7:3

וַיָּבִיאוּ אֶת קָרְבָּנָם לִפְנֵי ה’ שֵׁשׁ עֶגְלֹת צָב וּשְׁנֵי עָשָׂר בָּקָר עֲגָלָה עַל שְׁנֵי הַנְּשִׂאִים וְשׁוֹר לְאֶחָד – במדבר ז, ג

The generosity of Bnei Yisrael in their donation of materials for the construction of the Mishkan was extraordinary. As the craftsmen told Moshe, “the people are bringing very much, more than is enough for the labor of the articles which G-d had commanded to do” (Shemos 36:7). In contrast, the donation by the princes of the tribes, “six covered wagons and twelve oxen, a wagon from each two princes, and an ox from each one,” seems very meager. Why did each of the princes sponsor only half a wagon, instead of donating a full wagon of his own?

The question is even more troubling considering the purpose of the wagons, namely, to assist the Levi’im in transporting the Mishkan and its parts. Knowing the tremendous amount of items requiring transportation, why did the princes limit their donation to a mere six wagons, barely enough to do the job?

More is Less
Evidently, for the wagons to achieve their status as components of the Mishkan, it was necessary for every wagon to be critical to the Mishkan’s service. This reflects the very theme of the Mishkan—to reveal and restore G-d’s presence in the creation. Our Sages taught, “Of all G-d’s creation, not one thing was created without purpose” (Shabbos 77b). Certainly then, in the Mishkan, the G-dly purpose achieved through its every aspect and component must be clear and manifest. If any of its components were unnecessary or underutilized, the integrity of the Mishkan would be compromised.

Therefore, the princes’ donation was limited to six wagons, no less but no more. Since the task could be completed with six wagons, to spread the load over more than six would mean that each of the wagons was not being used to its fullest potential.

The same is true of the Mishkan that we each create within our own lives. Only when all our potentials and talents are utilized fully in their Divine purpose—“I was created only to serve my Creator” (Talmud, Kiddushin 82b), is the home we make for G-d truly complete.

—Likutei Sichos, vol. 28, pp. 40-48


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