After the Jewish people constructed the Sanctuary in the desert, Moses ordered that a reckoning be made of all the building materials used. This teaches us the importance which every particular entity possesses.

Every person, every object in this world, and every moment of time exists for a purpose. Each one contributes something unique in G‑d’s masterplan for creation.

Our lives are constantly in a state of flux. The world does not stand still, and neither can we. But there are times when we must pause. To live life to the fullest, and to act with clear purpose and direction, we must take out time to make a reckoning and check whether we have functioned effectively as trustees. Did we make proper use of everything we were given?

In particular, the reckoning described in the Torah includes: “the account of the sums of gold, silver, and brass donated for the Sanctuary, and the account of all its utensils, and its services.” Implied is that the tally contained two dimensions. First, a reckoning was made of the resources available, and then an inventory was taken of how these resources were used.

These concepts are also relevant in the personal sphere. First, a person must make an account of his potentials; he must know who he is and what he can do. Afterwards, from time to time, he must calculate how he has employed the potentials and resources with which he has been endowed and what he has achieved with them.

The sequence is also significant. The awareness of a potential serves as a prod, spurring its realization.

Not only does the process of taking a personal inventory make an individual look carefully at himself, it also teaches him to look beyond himself. For an inventory is not necessary when there is only one entity to choose from. When is it necessary to take inventory? When there are a multitude of elements, and it is necessary to determine what is the manner most appropriate to use each one.

In the personal sphere, this implies that every man and woman must be aware of the world around him or her, and see it as an organic whole. There is no way any one person, no matter how great his capabilities, can function successfully entirely on his own. And when he sees himself as an element within a greater picture, a whole which is greater than the parts it encompasses, his individual importance is enhanced rather than diminished. For his personal identity becomes fused with the larger unity in which he shares.

What is this greater whole? Moses was taking inventory of the elements of the Sanctuary, the place where G‑d’s presence rested. Similarly, the purpose of our existence is to reveal that the entire creation is a dwelling for His presence. By developing our own potentials to the utmost, shouldering all the responsibility we have been given, and yet joining together with others for this higher purpose, each of us becomes a “Sanctuary in microcosm.” This reveals G‑dliness in our own lives, and spreads the awareness of G‑d in the world at large.