They brought the Sanctuary to Moses, the tent and all its furnishings . . . Moses saw all the work, and behold, they had done it as G‑d had commanded . . . and Moses blessed them.

Exodus 39:33–43

Moses blessed them: He said, “May it be the will of G‑d that His presence dwell within the work of your hands.”

Rashi’s commentary

Often, a person may feel inadequate in the face of a spiritual challenge, and contend that he is simply not equipped to reach for “lofty” attainments. For example, one may argue that while the perfection of his behavior is a matter of choice, he lacks the mental and emotional fortitude to transform his character. This, he maintains, is best left to individuals of a greater spiritual stature than himself.

Says the Torah: You do yours. Apply yourself to constructing the external edifice, and the Almighty will provide the “soul” to dwell therein. Do your utmost to make yourself a fitting vessel, and G‑d will fill it with the sublime resources which seem so elusive to you now.1

—Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi

Once, a certain individual was condemned to Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi as a hypocrite. “He considers himself a chassid [‘pious one’],” the rebbe was told, “and has assumed all sorts of pious customs and practices. He acts like a real holy fellow. But it’s all superficial: internally, his mind and heart are as coarse and unrefined as ever.”

“Well,” said the rebbe, “in that case, may he meet the end that the Talmud predicts for such people.”

The “informers” were taken aback. They had merely desired to “warn” the rebbe about this individual. But now, what sort of calamity had the rebbe called down upon him?

Rabbi Schneur Zalman explained: In the final mishnah of Tractate Pe’ah, the Talmud discusses the criteria for a pauper to be eligible to receive charity. The section concludes with the warning: “One who is not in need, but takes . . . one who is not lame or blind, but makes himself as such—will not die of old age until he is indeed as such.”

“In the same vein,” concluded the rebbe, “one who makes of himself more than he is in matters of righteousness and piety, will eventually find that these traits have become ingrained in his character and very being.”