Following the wonders of Kabalas HaTorah on Har Sinai, HaKadosh Baruch Hu instructed Moshe Rabbeinu to build a sanctuary that will embody, on a highly condensed and intensified scale, the Divine vision of a dwelling for Himself in the physical world. Thus, the portable Mishkan was built in the desert to accompany B’nei Yisrael in their journeys, later achieving a more permanent form in the Beis HaMikdash.
Rav Shlomo Wolbe zt”l writes that Hashem wants each one of us to build such a sanctuary within ourselves so He can dwell there. It is not enough just to believe in Hashem; we must act to create sanctity in our lives by performing mitzvos with love, intent, and focus. Rav Gamliel Rabinowitz shlita (Tiv HaTorah) notes that Moshe perceived the task of erecting the Mishkan as daunting, but Hashem demanded that he begin, and only then did He help him. So, too, we must begin our daily battles with the yeitzer ha’ra even if we feel weak, and count on Hashem to help us. For that reason, says Rav Gamliel Rabinowitz, if we have indeed invested all of our energy, we should not berate ourselves if we fail. Hashem alone determines our success and will reward us immeasurably for our efforts.
The following story was told over recently by the famed mashpia, Rav Elimelech Biderman shlita, and he is quick to point out that when a person overcomes his evil tendencies and inclinations within, he can effect great change in the world. The story is about a man (whom we’ll call Yehudah), who was in the midst of construction on his home, which was located in a complex in a certain area in Israel. There were a number of homes in that complex that all shared a common backyard. Yehudah was disturbing the peace day and night with his construction. He even started building a little bit over his property line into the common ground. The neighbors initially tried to talk to Yehudah, but he refused to alter the construction in any way, claiming he had every right to build. They worked on themselves to look the other way in order to keep the peace.
One year later, another homeowner in that same complex, Rafael, also started doing construction on his home. Immediately, Yehudah protested and told him he’s disturbing the peace. Rafael tried to explain that his construction was necessary for his family, but Yehudah continued to complain and called the city a number of times. He even brought down the local Building Department and had them halt the construction for a significant period of time. Yehudah was unreasonable. After a long and arduous process, Rafael finally completed his construction. He made sure to stay many feet within his own property line and not to cause any other problems with the neighbors. He couldn’t believe how nasty Yehudah had been, especially since he, and all the other neighbors, didn’t open their mouths when he was building.
The story continues. Not long after this, Rafael received a phone call to be a reference for his neighbor Yehudah regarding a business that was deciding whether or not to hire Yehudah. This was Rafael’s chance to get back at him! He was caught off guard with the phone call, so he asked the person to please call back in an hour. For the next hour, he was debating back and forth in his mind about what he should do. On the one hand, Yehudah made his life miserable. On the other hand, Yehudah had been out of work for a while and was having a lot of problems in his own life as a result. Yehudah was smart and hardworking and probably would be a good candidate for the job. When the business called back, Rafael overcame his yeitzer ha’ra and spoke well about Yehudah. Yehudah got the job and a very nice salary to go along with it.
Rafael’s wife had been out of work for a full year. She used to be an assistant principal in a nearby school and got paid nicely. For months, she had been looking for a similar position, ever since she lost her first one. And then, totally out of the blue, Rafael’s wife received a call from one of the most prominent schools in the entire community asking her if she wanted to come work for them; they had an available position. It was the perfect job with a great salary. She had tried before to get a job with them, but previously she was denied. But suddenly now, within a few short days of Rafael speaking nicely of Yehudah and conquering his own evil inclination in order to help another Jew out – even though he didn’t really like him – he immediately saw benefits in his own life come out as a result of it.
(Rabbi David Ashear, Daily Emunah)