My grandmother came to America from Russia—with a four-year stopover in Israel—around 1930. She, her husband and two infant boys settled in a Jewish neighborhood in New Jersey. The older boys in the neighborhood welcomed her sons by snatching their yarmulkes off their heads.

Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak, the sixth Lubavitcher Rebbe, visited America around that time. His Soviet-imposed death sentence had only recently been commuted to life in internal exile, and shortly thereafter he was deported from Workers' Paradise. In America, Jews lined up to seek his counsel, his blessing.

My grandmother visited the Rebbe for a blessing, her two-year-old on her arm, her three-year-old holding her other hand. She saw the Rebbe's face and burst into tears, crying, "How will I raise children in such a hard land?"

The Rebbe smiled so widely that he was almost laughing; she thought at her, and was insulted. "It is a hard land," he conceded, growing serious, "but in this land you will raise gutte yiddisher chassidishe kinder (good Jewish chassidic children)."

In her later years, my grandmother was no longer encumbered by recent memory. She told this story with its full emotion, and ten minutes later she told it again, not missing the slightest detail, the slightest emotion.

She would always end the story by saying, "But I did not let that blessing sit, I put it to work!"

I don't think she ever lost her initial enthusiasm. I think if she had, she would never have been the person she was. (When she joined her Americanized family for picnics, she brought along sandwiches to adhere to the kosher laws. They nicknamed her Mrs. Sandviches. She told them that she worked hard to understand them, so why didn't they work to understand her? The teasing stopped.)

For two Parshiot, the Torah told us the details of the Tabernacle, the portable sanctuary: the sockets of the walls, the decorative cups of the menorah, the seams of the clothing. Now, for two Parshiot, the Torah tells us that it was all fulfilled. The exhaustive repetition begs explanation, until we notice two words, "nediv libo," describing one who gave for the Tabernacle—that "his heart was full of giving."

The future is by definition daunting—your personal future and your people’s. How do you get from divine concept to empirical reality? For that you need passion, a heart full of giving. A passion that never wavers and burns as bright as the first time it was lit—by a Rebbe whose smile was so wide, it looked like he was laughing.

Maybe, just maybe, he was. Maybe he saw something beyond the daunting future. Maybe it filled him with a satisfaction and vindication that he could not, would not, did not want to, contain.

This I know. My grandmother lived with whatever it was that he gave her. Without meaning to sound coarse, but realizing I do, I am grateful that her perhaps "selective" memory gave me a glimpse of something burning that was never extinguished, consuming but never consumed.

She built in America what architects of the land said could not be supported. But then, looking at blueprints, it can be hard to see passion.

We will read these portions. We will think they are redundant. We will remember that bringing heaven to earth demands a passion of the heart that allows for no redundancy. We will repeat it with a passion that has not abated.