1.

With great alacrity the people donated all that was needed to construct the Mishkan. Betzalel and his craftsmen made everything according to Hashem’s instruction, and afterwards they brought all the components to Moshe.

The Torah relates that Moshe saw all the work and was greatly impressed that all was done as Hashem had commanded and he blessed them (39:33-43).

Rashi says Moshe blessed them, “Yehi ratzon shetishreh Shechinah b’ma’aseh yedeichem” — “May it be the will that the Divine presence abide in the work of your hands.”

As beautiful as this blessing may sound, there are two difficulties with it. Firstly, usually when we say “Yehi ratzon — “May it be the will” — we specify whose will. For example on Rosh Hashanah when we eat the apple dipped in honey, we say “Yehi ratzon mil’fanecha” — “May it be Your will.” At other times, such as when we conclude the Amidah prayer, we say “Yehi ratzon milfanecha Hashem Elokeinu” — “May it be Your will, G‑d our G‑d and G‑d of our fathers.” Why here do we suffice with just saying “Yehi ratzon”?

Moreover, the Torah says that the purpose of building the Mishkan was that “veshachanti betocham” — “I shall rest among them” (Shemot 25:8), so in lieu of Moshe blessing that they merit that the Shechinah abide in “the work of your hands,” should he not have said “Yehi ratzon shetishrah Shechinah b’Mishkan” — “May it be His will that the Divine Presence abide in the Mishkan”?

Moshe, as the leader of Klal Yisrael, gave his flock a profound two-fold profound blessing which he hoped would remain with them for posterity.

Throughout the construction of the Mishkan the people were in an exalted mood. The knowledge that through the Mishkan they would gain atonement for the heinous sin of the “eigel” — “golden calf” — and merit that the Shechinah would dwell in the Mishkan in the midst of the Jewish camp caused much excitement amongst the people. Indeed, Hashem, too, was delighted with His chosen people and extremely proud of them.

After all the work of building the Mishkan was completed, they returned to their regular mundane activities and life went back to normal.

Undoubtedly, Moshe prayed that the Shechinah should be pleased with Klal Yisrael and dwell in the Mishkan. However, in addition, he also blessed the Jews that when they are involved in “ma’aseh yedeichem” — their regular daily activities and mundane preoccupations — even then they should conduct themselves in such a way to merit that the Shechinah should feel “comfortable” in their midst.

In addition Moshe told them that there is no question that Hashem loves the Jewish people and wants to abide amongst them. However, sometimes our behavior can make Him, G‑d forbid, feel reluctant to be with us. It all depends on the Jew and how he conducts himself. “Therefore,” Moshe was saying, “I bless you that yehi ratzon — it should always be ‘your will’ — shetishre Shechinah b’massei yedeichem — you should conduct your daily lives in a way that will demonstrate that you want the Shechinah to be in your midst.”

My dear Bar Mitzvah, for months you have been anticipating this glorious day in your life. In addition, for the last two months you were training in the mitzvah of tefillin, which becomes a Biblical obligation when you reach Bar Mitzvah. From today on however, the excitement is over and the exhilaration dissipates. You return to ma’aseh yedeichim — the daily activities — of a regular yeshivah bachur, and you may ultimately be involved in worldly and mundane matters “biz 120.”

In my berachah to you I will paraphrase the berachah Moshe gave to Klal Yisrael, “Yehi ratzon” — may it always be your will and resolve that tishreh Shechinah — the Shechinah should be proud and comfortable to be together with you. At all times, even when involved be’ma’aseh yedeichem — your daily routine activities — may you conduct yourself as a Chassid and yirei Shamayim — G‑d fearing Jew. Such a lifestyle and behavior will merit you to find favor b’einei Elokim v’adam — in the eyes of Hashem and man.


2.

With Parshah Pekudei we complete the second sefer — book — of the Chamishah Chumshei Torah — five sefarim of Torah Shebichtav — the Written Torah.

The Sefer Yetzirah says, in regard to Torah, “Na’utz sofan betchilatan u’techilatan besofan” — “The end is connected to the beginning and the beginning to the end” (1:7). To emphasize that there is no beginning and no end to Torah it is customary at the completion of a sefer of Torah or a volume of Gemara, to make a siyum — completion — and explore a common denominator between the end and the beginning (see Likkutei Sichot, vol. 16, p. 476).

My dear Bar Mitzvah permit me to share with you the following connection, which conveys an important message to one who is starting his obligation to study Torah and perform mitzvot as well as to those who have been engaged in it for many years.

For the past few weeks we have been learning about contributions for the MishkanTabernacle — and about its completed construction. The Torah relates that when all was ready to be erected the workman had a dilemma before them. Because of massive weight of the kerashim — planks — they were unable to stand it up. So “vayavi’u et haMishkan el Moshe” — “they brought [all the unassembled parts of] the Mishkan to Moshe” (39:33).

Rashi quotes Midrash Tanchuma that Moshe was also puzzled and asked Hashem, “How can any human erect it?” Hashem told him, “Involve yourself [in erecting the Mishkan] with your hands, and it will appear as if you were setting it up, and the Mishkan will rise upright and stand by itself.” Therefore, later (40:19) the Torah states “Hukam haMishkan” — “The Mishkan was set up.” The passive verb implies that although Moshe tried to erect it, it stood up by itself, miraculously.

A similar occurrence is related at the beginning of Sefer Shemot.

Pharoah issued a decree to drown all newborn boys. Yocheved gave birth to a son and hid him for three months. When she was no longer able to hide him, she placed him in a basket and placed it in the reeds at the bank of the river. Pharoah’s daughter (Batyah) went down to bathe by the river, and she saw the basket among the reeds. Torah relates that “vatishlach et amata vatikachehah” — “she send her maidservant and she took it” (2:1-5).

Rashi writes the plain meaning of “amatah” is “her maid,” i.e. the Princess sent one of her maids to retrieve the basket. However, our Rabbis expounded that “amatah” means “her arm” and according to their interpretation, the term amah is used in lieu of yadah —her hand — because her forearm became lengthened by many “amot” — cubits — to enable it to reach the basket and draw it out of the water (Sotah 12b).

Now, to send a maid to get something one cannot physically reach is a common and sensible practice. But what sense did it make to stretch out her hand to reach something far away, much farther than the reach of an arm?

The lesson we are taught in the beginning and end of this Chumash is that when something has to be accomplished, we should not become disillusioned and frightened because it seems difficult or impossible. If we will make an honest effort to do our best, Hashem will bless us with success and the impossible will become a reality.

My message to you, my dear Bar Mitzvah, is the following: Throughout life one encounters difficulties. In the study of Torah there may be hard subjects to comprehend. In the performance of mitzvot there may be various challenges. In matters of yirat Shamayim — the Yeitzer Hara will present challenges.

Never assume that a task is impossible and a goal is unachievable. Never give up. Do your utmost, make a great and sincere effort, and ultimately Hashem will help you to succeed and bring your good thoughts to fruition.

In Los Angeles, California lived a prominent Lubavitcher Chassid, Rabbi Menachem Shmuel David Haleivi z”l Raichik, (1919-1998), the emissary of the sixth and seventh Rebbeim of Lubavitch. His popular saying was “Der Aibishter vet zicher helfen” — “The One above will surely help.” You must work earnestly on becoming a Chassid, yirei Shamayim — G‑d fearing Jew — and a lamdan — Torah scholar — and Hashem will surely help you to be one. Mazal Tov.