You shall make a Menorah of pure gold, hammered out shall the Menorah be made… (Shemot 25:31)
The Mishkan — portable House of G-d — was a testament to the fact that Hashem dwelled with his children, Israel. The parashah describes in great detail the holy utensils of the Tabernacle. Our Sages find significance and moral teachings in the details the Torah gives regarding the measurements, materials, design and placement of each holy vessel. The Menorah represents the light of Torah — the Heavenly wisdom gifted to man. Its design was ornate and Moshe Rabbeinu found it difficult to understand how one solid brick of gold could be beaten into such a detailed, intricate masterpiece.
The passuk first says, “You shall make” and continues with “shall be made.” Why, our Rabbis ask, the discrepancy? If Moshe made the Menorah, why does it say it “shall be made,” intimating that he did not actually do the job he was commanded to do?
The Midrash explains that when Moshe expressed his inability to complete the task, Hashem commanded our leader to toss the gold into a fire and promised it would “make itself.” After the basic shape emerged from the fire, Moshe beat on the gold candelabra with a hammer and the detailed cups and flower ornamentation were formed on the frame by themselves. Therefore, the passuk uses the passive form of the word to reveal to the generations that Moshe did not in fact complete the task of making the Menorah.
There was once a great Torah scholar who always rushed to write down any novel Torah thought that crossed his mind so that he would not forget the idea. When one of his students asked why he was so eager to write everything down, he replied, “I’m afraid that after 120 years, when I reach the Heavens, they might show me a pile of sefarim and ask me accusingly, ‘Where are all of these books you were supposed to write?’”
The lesson of the Menorah is that no one will be charged simply for not achieving greatness in his life. The charge will not be “How come you did not complete Shas every year?” or “How come you did not compose great written compositions of Torah thoughts?” Rather, the question will be “How come you did not try? How come you did not fulfill what you could have done?”
Underlying a person’s failure to start difficult tasks is the trait of gaavah — pride! A conceited individual cannot deal with the thought of attempting something and failing to follow through to successful completion. Worse is the fear that another might succeed before he does and harvest all the accolades. The remedy is to train oneself in the trait of humility. This trait means one acknowledges that one may expend effort but that the results are in the Hands of Hashem. Man tries and Hashem does!
The passuk says: “And the man Moshe was humblest of all men on the face of the Earth” (Bamidbar 13:3). This trait enabled Moshe to totally nullify “self” and subjugate his entire being to the Will of Hashem. Each of us is expected to give all we can to succeed in the service of Hashem. Moshe started the task of creating the Menorah and the Torah attributes its completion to his efforts. We, too, have the opportunity to start our quest for perfect service to Hashem and the Heavenly assistance we prompt will complete the job — for which we will get credit!