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Getting to Know You

Getting to Know You

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This Shabbat is my 44th birthday, and I find that life has gotten difficult. I wonder why G‑d has chosen to give me ALS. While it is difficult for me, it is by far harder on my wife, Dina, who has taken over all my responsibilities on top of her own. It is hard to understand why G‑d does these things. The only thing I can do is trust that He knows what He is doing.

In the portion of Pekudei we read how the artisans made the clothing of the Kohanim and several vessels of the Mishkan. After every item was completed, it says, that they made it, “as G‑d commanded Moses.” Indeed, Moses was so impressed by this that he blessed them.

Later in the parshah, we read how Moses erected the Mishkan and placed all its vessels in it. Again, after every job done, it says that he did it “as G‑d commanded Moses.”

Why is it so important for the Torah to repeat this over and over again?

Artists and craftsmen have a creative spark in them. They have their way of seeing things that influence the outcome of their work. It takes a special kind of person who can listen to another and create the other’s vision, completely ignoring his or her own inner creative spark. It is truly difficult to do what another asks in exactly the way they want you to. And because of this, it is amazing that by the Mishkan, every task was done “as G‑d commanded Moses.”

How were they able to do it?

They were not ignoring their creative spark. Rather, they were so in tune with G‑d that their creative spark was totally in line with G‑d’s will. When you are one with G‑d, you find it easier to do what He wants.

The book of Exodus ends with this story. It tells us that when the Mishkan—built by these artisans—was completed, G‑d’s presence filled it.

Like the artisans of old, we are each blessed with our own dispositions, natures and creative energy. We all have our own way of thinking.

And we also have those moments when we think: “Everyone else is wrong and I am right. When things are not the way I think they should be, the world becomes a dark place.”

When this happens, the ego has taken over, and there is no room for anything or anyone else. When that happens, you are alone because your ego leaves no space for anyone else.

Yet when you bring humility into the picture, you find value in others. When you begin to see and feel another person’s way of thinking, you open the door to friendship, closeness, love and oneness.

The same is true when it comes to our relationship with G‑d. We all have ideas of what G‑d wants of us. However, through studying Torah, especially the esoteric Chassidic teachings, we get to know G‑d in a more intimate way. Slowly, we transform and align ourselves with Him, and His will becomes our will.

Realizing that all that we go through is from G‑d is also part of getting to know Him.

It is my hope that we will soon merit to see G‑d’s presence fill our actions, our lives and our Temple. May we come to see how our difficulties contributed in accomplishing the transformation that brings Moshiach. Until then, be strong, be strong, and let us strengthen each other. Chazak, chazak, venitchazek!

Rabbi Yitzi Hurwitz—father of seven, husband of Dina, and spiritual leader at Chabad Jewish Center in Temecula, Calif.—has been rendered immobile by ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease). Unable to speak or type, he uses his eyes to write heartfelt thoughts on the weekly Torah portion.
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