"Moishe! Hey, Moishe! Look. I gotta have a word with you. You have just got to stop it. You have got to tell all the people to stop bringing materials for the mishkan. We've got more than enough now, and we're practically out of room to store it. I'm up to my elbows in linen, gold, silver, bronze, skins, you name it. It just keeps coming and coming and..."
"OK, Betzie, I get the picture. The good people cough up an excess of goods for the mishkan, and all you can do it kvetch about it? I got bigger problems on my hands than that, Mr. Craftsman."
"Look Moishe, I know it's been a tough time for you lately, what with having to schlep up and down the mountain lugging those tablets..and then that whole golden calf thingie...so I can understand you're being preoccupied, but that's no reason to get snippy and sarcastic with me."
"Ah, yes, you're right, Betzie, I'm sorry. It has been a hectic couple of weeks. Heck, I've barely had time to catch my breath since we left Mitzrayim. Now, what's the problem again?"
"You just need to tell the people to stop bringing more stuff for the
mishkan. I mean, it's great that everyone is being so generous", and I do mean everyone. But enough is enough."
"Right. OK. You got it. You got enough stuff for the mishkan. I'll pass the word around, and before you know it, the stuff will stop coming."
"You know, Moishe, it really is quite amazing how generous every one has been. It's kind of unusual. Even Korach and his cronies have cheerfully been bringing lots of stuff."
"Hmmmm. You know, Betzie, you've got me to thinking here. What has gotten into this rabble to make then so generous?"
"Maybe, since most of the troublemakers got swallowed up into the ground, just the nice people are left?"
"It a possibi-hey, wait just a darn minute here, Betzie. I think I get it. This has nothing to do with a sudden onset of generosity. Gd knows, these people should be generous, after all Gd has done for them."
"Maybe they're finally catching on?"
"Oh, to be young again, Betzie. I wish I had your youthful confidence and your optimism. But I'm becoming a cynic, dear friend. I wish they were catching on, but something tells me...heck, for all I know, three thousand years from know they could still be bellyaching, ungrateful, and disobedient. Wouldn't surprise me one bit. No, sir. Betzie. What's driving these people isn't generosity, it's CYA!"
"CYA? CYA? Oh...cover your a- err, I mean tuchis?"
"You got it Betzie. Cover your tuchis. That's the mentality here. Think about it. First of all, where did everyone get all this stuff to contribute to the building of the mishkan and the ohel mo'ed?"
"Ohhhh. I see where you're going. Well, from the Egyptians, of course. They didn't earn it. The Egyptians were so thrilled to be getting rid of us they just gave away the store! None of us earned this stuff."
"Whoa up there, pardner. I'd say we all earned it. we, and our ancestors, over centuries of slavery to Pharaoh and all of Mitzrayim. So we did earn it, in a way-with blood, sweat, and tears...but yes-it's pretty easy for the folks to give all this stuff up for the mishkan, since if kind of just fell into their laps. But let's see if you've figured out my thoughts, Betzie. Use that artistic brain of yours."
"I'm not quite following you there yet, Moishe. Let's see. CYA. CYA. Hmmmm...what does CYA have to do with..........OH. I get it! They're sucking up to the big guy, numero uno, the One and only."
"Bingo. You got it, Betzie. Think about it. They just saw a whole bunch of us get swallowed up by the earth after that golden calf thing. I'll bet they're feeling just a little insecure about what Gd might do to them. Especially now that they've got all these chukim and mishpatim to follow. And following some of these rules ain't gonna be easy. Mark my words. Heck, if they only knew how I had to plead and cajole with Gd just to get him to dwell amidst us and be at the front of us as we sojourned-Gd was hopping mad about that golden calf business. One small mistake and Gd might have wiped half of us out just like that!"
"Phew! It's better the people don't know about that. It's not good to have Gd mad at you."
"No, it's not. Trust me on that one, Betzie."
"Whadayya mean, Moishe?"
"Don't go there, Betzie. Don't go there."
"OK. I won't pry. So, let me get this straight. You're saying that everyone is being so generous with the stuff for the mishkan because they're sucking up to Gd?"
"Well, I guess I can see that. Y'know, come to think of it, you're probably right. Guess who have been the two biggest contributors-they just keep bringing more and more stuff...Nadav and Avihu! Probably trying to get your brother back on good graces with the big cheese. 'Cause if Aaron's out of a job, they're out of a job!"
"Oy, those two nephews of mine. Don't know when to quit. It's gonna get them in real trouble some day. Sigh. Now, don't think I'm giving you the bum's rush Betzie, but we both got a lot of work to be doing, and we'd both better get back to it."
"Yeah, you go back and do all that hard work-praying, judging, and writing that book I know you've been working on. Just promise you'll think of me out there sweating and working my tuchis off getting the mishkan ready. Hard work, my a**!"
"Hey, smarty-pants. I'm not the sissy artist with the sissy name! Betzie? Betzie? What kind of man's name is that? Moses. Now there's a manly sounding name."
"Yeah, right. For a prince of Egypt, it's a great name. But years from now people are gonna wonder about your descendants. Moses? Moses? Doesn't sound Jewish."
"Get outta here before I break my staff over your head....
It's great to be generous. This Shabbat, be generous. But not too generous. With Gd, we don't need to CYA. After three millennia, you'd have thought we'd figured that out by now...
© 2000 by Adrian A. Durlester
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