Parashas Shemini

This week’s parashah describes the inaugural day of service in the Mishkan. Moshe Rabbeinu tells the people (Vayikra 9:6): “This act, which Hashem has commanded, do – and then Hashem’s glory will appear to you.” The Midrash elaborates (Yalkut Shimoni I:521):
Said Moshe to the People of Israel: “Remove this evil inclination from your hearts, and let all of you have a single-minded fear of God and a unified agenda to serve before the All-Present One. Just as He is the sole power in the world, so, too, let your efforts be directly solely toward Him. … If you do so, Hashem’s glory will appear to you.
In explaining this Midrash, the Maggid notes that the formation of a great assembly of Jews for a mitzvah not, in itself, enough to bring Hashem great honor. The key factor that makes the assembly an honor to Hashem is each person’s individual devotion to serving Him.
Yeshayah declares (verses 8:11-12): “For thus Hashem said to me with a strong hand, admonishing me not to follow the way of this people, saying: ‘Do not regard as a coalition everything this people calls a coalition – do not fear what they fear, and do not be staggered by it.’” A council of fools, the Maggid explains, works very differently from a council of wise men. When a group of wise men gathers to form a plan about some matter, each member of the group analyzes the issues thoroughly with his own independent intellect and experience, and then advances his opinion. A council of fools, on the other hand, is usually dominated by one member’s view, with the rest of the group simply adopting this view without bothering to think through the issues themselves. Thus, the mere size of a group behind a given position is no proof that the position is sound. The opinion of twenty thoughtful men is of much greater substance than that of a thousand simpletons. In fact, Yeshayah says, a coalition of a thousand simpletons does not even merit being called a coalition.
Similarly, when a group of Jews presents itself before Hashem, we cannot always say that the honor to Hashem is proportionate to the size of the group. We can say this only when each individual member has worked on himself thoroughly to purify himself of the evil inclination and devote his entire being to serving Hashem. As the Mishkan was about to be inaugurated, and the Jewish People anxiously awaited the appearance of the Divine Presence, Moshe exhorted them to put themselves through this process. By carrying out Hashem’s directives with a pure heart, driven solely by a desire to give Him satisfaction, the people would merit having Hashem’s glory appear to them.
David Zucker, Site Administrator

1 Comment

  1. North Jerusalem Maggid of Dubno Project » Blog Archive » Beholding Hashem’s Glory:

    […] We previously presented a selection from the Maggid’s commentaries on this Midrash [link]; we now present another. In Shir HaShirim 1:4 it is written: “Let the King bring me into […]

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