"These are the accounts of the tabernacle… which were counted at Moses' command…."—Exodus 38:21
This week's portion relates how after completing the construction of the Tabernacle, Moses made a thorough audit of all of the materials that were used. The purpose of this tally was two-fold. First, Moses took inventory of the resources donated to the project – the gold, the silver, the fine cloth and so on. Then, he accounted for how each of these materials was actually used.
On a personal level, each of us has been assigned with the mission of building a sanctuary for G‑d in this world. Each of us brings certain resources to the task and each of us is to be held accountable for how we make use of what we have been given. In other words, when making a home for G‑d, self-knowledge is not enough. It must be followed by accountability.
Self-knowledge is not enough. It must be followed by accountabilityIn Step 4, we are enjoined to make "a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves." The purpose of this inventory is not only to be able to identify the character defects that we wish to have removed, but also to become aware of our assets. A truly honest self-appraisal will reveal our positive qualities as well. As someone once put it, "It's not called an immoral inventory."
It may be said that the difference between a character defect and a virtue is in how it is used. Each of us has been given unique characteristics. When those traits are channeled toward the service of G‑d, they are positive. When, however, our G‑d-given character traits are in breach of the purpose intended for them by the Creator, they become liabilities. The purpose of an accounting, therefore, is to discover not only what we have been given, but how we are using what we have and whether or not that use is in line with G‑d's will for us or our own. If our inventory is comprehensive and followed by action, we will have made ourselves ready to receive the Presence of G‑d.