Vayakhel-Pekudei: Between Right and Right

March 4, 2021

It is easy to choose between right and wrong. Choosing between right and right proves more difficult. How are we to ascertain the correct course of action?

This week’s lesson is dedicated in loving memory of Mrs. Rivkie Barber, Shlucha of the Rebbe in Melbourne, Australia. Yartzeit 19 Adar.


By her children, Rabbi Yechiel & Chanie Biston and Rabbi Efraim & Shaina Duchman

A. Leaders Left Behind

When the Torah describes the enthusiastic response of the Jewish people for the building of the Tabernacle, the leaders, the nesi’im, are mentioned at the very end. Rashi explains that they had given the ordinary people the opportunity to donate before them (source 1).

Earlier in the Torah, Moses has a (somewhat) similar approach to leadership. When G-d gives him a message for the people, his foremost priority is to pass on that information (source 2). In Likutei Sichos, the Rebbe explains that Moses even ignored his own part of the mission in his haste to fulfill his responsibilty as leader (source 3).

In our sicha, the Rebbe explains that the leaders had attempted to copy Moses. They felt that their main responsibility was to inspire the others to donate, so they focused on their central mission and left their own contributions for later. However, they soon realized that their contributions were no longer needed.

As an aside, the Rebbe notes that it was still a privilege for them to donate. The Rebbe Maharash once told community leaders that even if a goal could be acheived without them, it was a great merit for them to participate in the endeavor.

In source 4, we bring the story of the Rebbe Maharash in its entirety.

B. Identify the Source

The Rebbe explains that when the leaders realized that they had missed the opportunity, they understood that they had been misguided about their delay. It had been a result of laziness—not dedication to the community. They lacked the ability to make that nuanced distinction.

How can we determine whether our decisions are truly altruistic or not? The Rebbe brings a story about Rabbi Nochum of Chernobyl, who analyzed his own thoughts to determine which ones came from the Evil Inclination and which ones came from the Good Inclination. In the case of the leaders, the Rebbe explains that their mistake was that they lacked bitul. They assumed that their work in a leadership capacity absolved them of their personal obligations.

C. How to Make the Choice

In Source 5, we bring the Hayom Yom that explains that not every positive idea comes directly from the Good Inclination. The Evil Inclination knows how to wear “righteous garments,” and we need to ensure that we don’t give him a foothold.



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