One of Poland’s foremost Rebbes had a grandson who was very ill. His son called for the most skilled medical professionals, but they all returned with the same prognosis. Ordinary medicine had no cure for the disease that ailed him. Unless there was a miracle, the case was terminal.

The father appealed to the Rebbe to pray for his grandchild, but the Rebbe did not respond. No matter how heartfelt the requests made of him, he would turn his face to the side.

One night, the child’s situation became extremely serious. It appeared that he had few remaining moments. His father woke the sick boy’s brother and told him to approach his grandfather and ask him to pray for the child. “Maybe his brother’s pleas will motivate my father,” he thought.

The boy approached his grandfather’s room and knocked on the door.

Moshe, what are you doing here at this hour?” he asked his grandson.

“I came to bring you good news, Zeide,” the boy answered. “My brother’s condition has improved. He’s getting better.”

“I’m so happy to hear that. For the last few weeks, everyone has been so full of despair, I didn’t know what to do.”

“But Zeide, even though he is doing better, he still is quite ill. Could you pray for him?”

The Rebbe happily agreed. Needless to say, after the Rebbe prayed, the child got better.

In the morning, his family told him the entire story. “Moshe understood,” the Rebbe explained. “As long as I was being told bad news, I was depressed and could not pray. When he told me the child was getting better, my heart was opened and I could make entreaties to G‑d.”

This Torah portion is usually read in the month of Adar, a month that features happiness and joy. As emphasized by the above story, happiness opens a person’s heart and makes him a medium for G‑dliness.

Parshas Pekudei

This week’s Torah reading concludes the narrative of the construction of the Sanctuary. When the Jews completed fashioning all the utensils and building materials needed for the Sanctuary, they brought them to Moses. Then G‑d commanded Moses to erect the Sanctuary and he did so personally, constructing the building according to G‑d’s instructions.

Why was it Moses who built the Sanctuary? Because he was the one who was granted the vision of the Sanctuary on Mount Sinai. He saw the Sanctuary as it existed in the spiritual realms and that gave him the potential to constructing a parallel structure here on earth. For the purpose of constructing a Sanctuary was to reflect the spiritual reality that exists in the supernal heavens within our material existence, to give man the taste of the higher reality that surpasses his limited physical framework of reference.

Hence, the commandment to build this structure was given to Moses, a man who was above the level of ordinary people. He spent 40 days and 40 nights on Mount Sinai without eating or drinking. For him, spiritual reality was as poignant and pressing as ordinary day-to-day experience, and perhaps even more so.

This, however, raises a question. Although Moses was the one who erected the Sanctuary, he did no other work in its construction. Instead, all the vessels were made by other people. He conveyed the commands and instructed the people how to build the Sanctuary and all of its utensils, but he did none of the actual work himself. It was all performed by others. Why? If it was supposed to be built by Moses, why did he delegate the responsibility?

This, however, teaches us a unique lesson concerning leadership. A leader walks a delicate tightrope. Of course, he should not merely sit back and give orders like an absentee landlord. On the other hand, the intent is not that he do everything himself. Instead, he should share his mission with his people, giving them not only a glimpse of his goals from afar, but an active role in bringing about their consummation. They should not merely cheer him to his accomplishments or carry out his commands like robots. But instead, they should internalize his message and learn to share his inner motivation. For the fundamental element of leadership is giving one’s people a mission that elevates them above their ordinary understanding and imbues their lives with meaning and purpose.

That was Moses’ intent in involving the Jews in the construction of the Sanctuary: to give them the opportunity to share his understanding and take an active role in making the world fit for the indwelling of G‑d’s presence. When commanding the Jews to build the Sanctuary, G‑d stated: “Make Me a Sanctuary and I will dwell within.” The term used for within is plural, implying that the Divine presence was intended to dwell not only within the structure of the Sanctuary, but within each member of the Jewish people. By taking part in the construction of the Sanctuary, the Jews internalized this purpose, making it part of their inner being.

Looking to the Horizon

A similar motif applies with regard to Mashiach and redemption. The redemption is going to lift the Jewish people to a higher level of awareness than they could possibly reach on their own. Not only will they witness revelations of G‑dliness as bystanders, they will internalize their understanding. For this reason, Mashiach will be both a king and a teacher. Just as a king is an absolute ruler, exalted above his people, so too, Mashiach will reveal G‑dliness in a transcendent manner, beyond the understanding of the people. But he will also be a teacher and guide the people to the point where they will understand and make this transcendent revelation a part of their conscious appreciation of reality.

Similar concepts apply to preparing ourselves and the people around us for Mashiach’s coming. It is not enough that we look at this as an abstract goal, a destination that we are striving toward. Instead, the goal should become part of us, internalized within our own thought process. Then as more and more people start living their lives in a manner that anticipates Mashiach’s coming, the world will become a fit setting for redemption.