This week’s parsha is all about the building campaign and the actual building of the משכן. Like all good Charidy campaigns, they hit their goal:
Now that is a very
strange expression: the מלאכה was enough for doing the מלאכה. To understand this, we need to look at the description of the campaign:
There’s a repeated word, a
מלה מנחה or leitwort, here: הֵבִיאוּ. This is all about הבאה, bringing.
Moshe commands that they stop doing מלאכה and they stop their הבאה. So read our pasuk as Rashi does:
And the fact that הבאה is called a kind of מלאכה has
Moshe tells them:
Don’t do מלאכה on Shabbat, and מלאכה is defined as what follows: build the משכן. That is how we define מלאכת שבת. So הבאה (which included bringing stuff out of your tent, carrying it through the camp, and bringing it into the staging area for the משכן) is forbidden on Shabbat (though we call it הוצאה):
The Ohr Hachaim has an interesting twist on this:
So he reads our pasuk in the opposite way: והמלאכה [של עשיה] היתה דים לכל המלאכה [של הבאה] לעשות אתה; [אף אל פי ש־]והותר.
Last year we mentioned a similar idea to explain why the details of bringing the materials and building the משכן were repeated so many times.
It was important that every single member of the community felt that they had a part in building the משכן. Without that sense of community, the physical building would be pointless.
Then why make the people stop bringing? The Sfas Emes says that donating is not an unalloyed good:
It became clear that the giving had gotten out of hand. They weren’t giving out of generosity, but out of social pressure. We’ve seen that with fancier and fancier משלח מנות; there comes a point when it is not הידור מצווה but throwing away money that could be better spent.
With צדקה, intent is less important than the act of helping. And our intent should not be לשם שמים, but לשם חברו; people are not tools for doing מצוות. And using social status and social pressure to increase נדיבות is a powerful tool (that’s how Charidy works). However, there is a dialectic here, two inconsistent truths that are nonetheless both true. We need to be aware of the dangers of public generosity, and know that there is a time to ויעבירו קול במחנה לאמר…אל יעשו עוד מלאכה.