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A popular question asked by theologians through the ages is, “Does G-d really care what we do?” How is it that G-d, Creator of heaven and earth, Master of the galaxies, all-knowing and all-powerful, is concerned with the acts of His puny creations, here on earth? If a Jew fulfills a Mitzvah or does not; keeps kosher or does not; prays one day or does not; how does this have any effect on G-d?

To answer this question, let’s examine the root of it. Why, indeed, does G-d command us to do Mitzvot? What does He get out of it, so to speak?

We can find the answer in this week’s Torah portion, Parshat Terumah. In it, we read a description of the Tabernacle that the Jewish people built for G-d in the desert. G-d gave Moses detailed plans for how to build the sanctuary, and asked that all the Jewish people participate through bringing donations.

Why was it so important that everyone contribute? G-d is certainly not lacking in resources - the whole world and all that it contains belongs to Him. If He wanted a sanctuary built, He could have provided Moses with all the materials directly, in some miraculous fashion. Yet, G-d wanted every single Jew to participate in the building of the sanctuary.

There are several explanations for this. One is that G-d wanted every Jew to have the satisfaction of being part of such a momentous project. G-d was giving the Jewish people a gift, by allowing them to build a home for Him, where the Divine presence would dwell. Every Jew would have the opportunity to go there and pray, and beseech G-d for whatever lay deep in their hearts. It has special meaning to pray in the very place that you had a share in building.

Had the Tabernacle been built without the participation of the Jewish people, they would have been lacking this satisfaction. There would have even been a sort of shame, at taking a gift without investing any personal effort. G-d wanted to give His gift in the most generous manner possible - one that would not involve any shame. Therefore, He had every Jew bring donations.

This also answers the above question, why G-d desires our mitzvoth. When Moshiach comes, we will all have a feeling of satisfaction, that we played a role in bringing him. G-d could easily send Moshiach with or without our involvement. However, He does not want us to eat the “bread of shame,” the shame that we feel from enjoying an unearned largesse. He wants us to feel the full sense of accomplishment that we will feel from bringing Moshiach through our own efforts. Therefore, G-d commanded us to fulfill 613 mitzvot. Each mitzvah is another opportunity to bond with G-d and do our part to transform the world and make it ready for Redemption.

However, at a certain point we say, “enough!” We have done all we can to prepare for Redemption. We want Moshiach to come now, even if that means eating “the bread of shame.” Enough of exile, enough of the concealment of the Divine presence. We have done our part; now, G-d, please do Yours.

 

 


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