At first glance it is difficult to understand how the narrative of the production of the covers of the Sanctuary, which were spun from goat hair, is relevant to us. This was strictly a onetime activity necessary for the construction of the Sanctuary in the desert. It is something that is not even applicable to the Third Holy Temple (which won’t need to be fashioned on our part at all, for “it is built and stands ready, etc.”). * These wise women devoted their talents to making G-d’s Sanctuary notwithstanding the fact that it was within their capacity to utilize their special talents for their personal concerns instead…
Translated by Boruch Merkur
THE GIFT OF EXTRAORDINARY CRAFTSMANSHIP
On the verse, “And all the women whose hearts uplifted them with wisdom spun the goats’ hair,” Rashi comments that the intent of “spun the goats’ hair” is that “this was extraordinary craftsmanship, for they spun the hair from upon the goats [i.e., prior to it being shorn, a very difficult process but one that preserves its luster].”
Now, this verse comes in continuation of the verse, “And every wise-hearted woman spun with her hands,” adding that there were women “whose hearts uplifted them with wisdom,” meaning these were not typical “wise-hearted” women; these were women “whose hearts uplifted them with wisdom.” That is, there wisdom exceeded that of the other women mentioned (in the previous verse, described as being “wise-hearted”) with respect to the craft of spinning. To that extent, their spinning was in a manner of “from upon the goats.” […]
The lesson from Rashi’s commentary, understood at the inner dimension, emerges from a general question on our Torah portion:
At first glance it is difficult to understand how the narrative of the production of yerios ha’izim, etc., the covers of the Sanctuary, which were spun from goat hair, is relevant to us. This was strictly a onetime activity necessary for the construction of the Sanctuary in the desert. It is something that is not even applicable to the Third Holy Temple (which won’t need to be fashioned on our part at all, for “it is built and stands ready, etc.”).
But this process teaches us the following lesson. The women “whose hearts uplifted them with wisdom” understood that since G-d had granted them a special talent that other women did not possess, surely the purpose for which they were given this talent is for the sake of the construction of the Mishkan, G-d’s Sanctuary.
Notwithstanding the fact that they were not commanded, per se, to do [work that can only be described as] “extraordinary craftsmanship,” nevertheless, they knew that they had a rare gift, superior wisdom [in a very specialized craft], and that the intent of this gift is for them to contribute something special to the Sanctuary. Thus, they sought a means whereby they could contribute to the Sanctuary, utilizing their unique craftsmanship, resulting in their spinning the goats’ hair.
So too, when a person perceives that G-d has given him something special, unique, certainly the intent is not for him to enjoy it on his own but in order for him to contribute something extra special to G-d’s Sanctuary, to make the world into a dwelling place for G-d Alm-ghty.
These wise women devoted their talents to making G-d’s Sanctuary notwithstanding the fact that it was within their capacity to utilize their special talents for their personal concerns instead. For example, to cook tasty meals, or to buy themselves exquisite dresses. (Naturally, a dress that is in accordance with the Code of Jewish Law, free of shaatnez.) And since such a woman is gifted with talent, she can select a beautiful outfit, or she knows which type of carpet to buy – what to buy and how to set it up in the home. And thereafter she can show all her neighbors how … “The wisest of women built her home” (Mishlei 14:1). The Torah teaches here that women should seek out how to utilize their talents in order to contribute to the Sanctuary. They do not suffice with using the goats’ milk for breakfast or for lunch. Rather, they “spun the goats’ hair” and make of it the coverings for the Sanctuary. […]
This is the lesson learned from the production of the goat hair coverings. One must know that everything that G-d gives is intended to be used for making of it a dwelling place for G-d. The well-known story about the chassid of the Alter Rebbe (printed in HaTamim) illustrates this. As the story goes, the chassid, a merchant, once earned an unusually high profit from his business dealings. He knew, however, with certainty that the money was not intended for him. Rather, immediately a fundraiser for the Rebbe would arrive and the chassid resolved that he would give him the money to give to the Rebbe. The chassid knew that if he profits in his business in an unusual manner, certainly it is incumbent upon him to give it to the Rebbe.
WHAT HAVE WE DONE TO SPREAD THE TEACHINGS OF CHASSIDUS?
Indeed, there is an emissary of the Rebbe Rayatz within each of his chassidim, who pushes him, and if he is sleeping he comes to him in a dream, demanding: What have you done today, yesterday, and the day before, in order to disseminate the wellsprings of chassidus?!
It is vital to know that the intent of everything that G-d gives is to make of it a dwelling place for G-d. It is just that since G-d is good, and the nature of those who are good is to be benevolent, “leftovers” remain for one’s personal matters. From the fact that one gives “a fifth to Pharaoh” – [an allusion to G-d Himself, as mentioned in the Zohar (Chelek 1 210a)] “in whom all revelations shine” – “four parts shall be for you.” Within the realm of holiness, G-d reciprocates in a manner of “from whence all revelations are emitted and shine.” However, with regard to material concerns, only “four parts” are “emitted,” etc. The main thing is what one gives up for holiness. And as it is explained in the Midrash (Shmos Rabba 35:1): Gold was created only for the sake of the Holy Temple; it is only in the sense of “leftovers,” etc., that gold is also used by the entire world.
THE EVIL INCLINATION AGREES
At first glance, one could argue that since he gives a fifth to charity, why should he give more than that? In particular, the Evil Inclination comes and tells him that from his perspective, he doesn’t care and he agrees that he should give, but in so doing he is going to deprive his household… In other matters he slights his household for the sake of his own benefit but here all of a sudden he says that what he is personally lacking doesn’t bother him. What does bother him? That his household will lose out… Thus, he is told [in order to end the debate with the Evil Inclination] that the intent is not for himself but to make for G-d a dwelling place.
In everything one must find a means whereby it can be used to add to the Sanctuary, to the extent that we take a “naughty goat” and make of it yerios, covers which Moshiach will use for the Holy Temple.
(Selections from the address of Shabbos Parshas VaYakhel 5736, bilti muga)