A “Your Mother’s Guidance” post by Rebecca Masinter
The book of Exodus ends with the completion and assembly of the Tabernacle. The description of assembling the materials, building the vessels, and sewing the tapestries and clothing for the Priests are in the active tense, “and he made,” “and he placed,” with one exception. Verse 40:17 says, “And it was in the first month of the second year on the first of the month that the Tabernacle was erected.” The actual assembly of the Tabernacle is said in a passive voice, “was erected.”
Why? Ancient Jewish wisdom describes that after the children of Israel brought all the components of the Tabernacle to Moses it was time to assemble it. God wanted to give Moses the honor of actually assembling the Tabernacle but the planks and pieces were so huge and heavy that Moses knew it was impossible for a human being to lift them and put them in place.
As ancient Jewish wisdom beautifully states, Moses said before God, “How can it be erected by a human being?”
God said to him, “You do your part—make an attempt so it looks as if you’re doing it, and it will rise and be assembled by itself.”
And that is why the verse says, “…the Tabernacle was erected” in a passive voice. It assembled itself.
Wow! I’m going to share with you an idea that I would have rejected as a mother of young children, but has become very dear to me as they have grown older. We put in our effort. We make an enormous effort to parent well, to be good mothers. And that is our responsibility. We have to make our attempts. To the rest of the world it may look as if we are raising our children! But the truth is that just as it appeared as if Moses was lifting the Tabernacle and it was really happening independently of him, the development of our children is really independent of us. The outcome of how our children turn out, what type of person they become—that is up to God.
I have a friend who went to speak to a Torah scholar about one of her children who was born with innate behavioral challenges. Despite years of various efforts and therapies, my friend was still very concerned about what would be with this child in adulthood. The Torah sage told her, “That’s not your concern. You put in your effort to be a good mother. You make an effort to research doctors, providers, and treatments within reason, and that is all! What will be with him and who he will become is not dependent on your actions. That is up to God.”
Our children’s successes are not due to us, and our children’s struggles and failures are not ours either. Our job as mothers is about effort; the outcome is independent of us and dependent on God (and the child’s own input).
This is really a mind-blowing idea and it may not resonate with each of you, and that’s okay. For me, it resonates. We put in our best efforts, do our best and have faith in God who can bring about the results without our help, in the same way as the Tabernacle was assembled.