RAV DOVID FEINSTEIN, ZT”L, ON THE PARSHA
As heard and adapted by Rabbi Aaron D. Mehlman
STRIVE FOR EXCELLENCE!
כִּ֣י תִשָּׂ֞א אֶת־רֹ֥אשׁ בְּנֵֽי־יִשְׂרָאֵ֘ל
When you take a census of the Jewish People.
The word תִשָּׂ֞א can also be translated as raising or lifting up. So the posuk can be understood to mean, “If you want to elevate the Jewish People...”
לִפְקֻדֵיהֶם֒, according to their number.
But what is the benefit of counting the Jewish People and ascertaining their exact amount? It’s like counting an ant farm! What possible good will come from it?
The answer is that in one’s spiritual life, a person must sincerely believe he has fallen short of Hashem’s expectations.
No one can claim, “I have fulfilled my purpose and accomplished everything I was created for!”
Like digits in a number sequence, we have achieved only a fraction of the whole, a mere tiny part of what was anticipated from us.
Therefore, the machsis hashekel was donated to the Mishkan as a כֹּ֧פֶר נַפְשׁ֛וֹ לַיהוָ֖ה, ransom to G-d, to signal that we’ve fallen short of what He had hoped.
Despite the prodigious gifts and skill sets Hashem bequeathed us to succeed in this world, we’ve accomplished not even half the job.
A person finishes Shas and thinks, “I’m done!” But this is a huge mistake.
The Mishkan, its equipment, and utensils were built from these half-shekels to reinforce the truth that we are fundamentally deficient in our Avodah and we could accomplish even greater amounts.
To realize our full potential and attain shelaimus, perfection, we must get motivated to strive for excellence and maximize our inherent greatness.
We could do more, much more!