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More than enough. It's an interesting concept. One should certainly aspire to do as much as one can. One should be generous to a fault. Or should one?
That's the question posed by what we read in parashat Vayakhel. The outpouring of materials and effort from the people of Israel for the building of the tabernacle was "dayam l'chol ham'lacha la'asot ota" enough for all that needed to be done for it [the building of the tabernacle.] However, not only was it "enough", the text goes on to say "v'hoteir" which one might colloquially translate as "and then some" but the combination of "dayam" and "hoteir" is most often rendered "more than enough." [Ex 36:7]
It's wonderful that Moshe had to tell the people to stop, that more than was needed had been given by those whose hearts moved them to give. And it's certainly appropriate to look at this as an example of generosity of spirit.
I also think there's another way of looking at it. It can also be a lesson in knowing when enough is enough. We've all experienced the sensation of getting really caught up in something, getting carried away in our enthusiasm. Enthusiasm is a good thing. Yet enthusiasm, as with anything carried to extremes, needs its limits. Energies that may be needed elsewhere can be needlessly and wastefully expended on something that no longer needs that energy.
I also believe we have a lesson here in learning to allow someone with an objective outside opinion warn us when our enthusiasm has blinded us to the need to move on to something new. In the Talmud, Rabbi Tarfon teaches us that "it is not your obligation to complete the task, yet you are also not free to desist from it. Would that he had also said "and when the task is done, move on to the next one." Moshe rabbeinu had to get up in front of the whole community and effectively say: "Enough already! Stop with the all the ferkhakhte gifts for building the tabernacle! We're up to our ears in this holy dreck."
I wonder what might have happened had not Moshe done so (or if the people had not listened to him.)
The artisans who were engaged in the work knew something had to be done. They were probably so busy continuing to accept and sort all the gifts being brought they had little time to actually work on the creating of the items for the tabernacle. So they went to Moshe and asked him to tell the people to stop.
The last time the people had gotten in such a fervor they had committed a great sin, and brought forth the abomination of the golden calf. Surely Moshe must have had this in mind when he ordered the people to stop. Another case of poorly channeled energy.
What are the things in our own lives to which we devote more than enough? Are we open to the comments of those who tell us when we have done enough and it's time to stop? It's great to be moved by our hearts to do things. It's also important to use our heads to know when to stop and move on.
As we help with the building of our own tabernacles in our own times, let us all pray for the wisdom to know when enough is enough.
I could say more on the subject, but maybe enough is enough.
© 2003 by Adrian A. Durlester
Some Previous Musings on the same parasha
5760-The Lost Episodes: Too Much of a Good Thing
Vayakhel/Pekude 5762-Sacred Work
Vayakhel/Pekude 5761-Craftsman. Artisan. Artist.
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