A ‘Your Mother’s Guidance’ post by Rebecca Masinter
I was thinking about chapter 40 in the book of Exodus. Ancient Jewish wisdom describes how God wanted to give Moses the honor of assembling the Tabernacle because he hadn’t been involved in the contribution and building process. The words used by one transmitter are, “she’lo asa Moses shum melacha b’Mishkan,” “for Moses had not done any work for the Tabernacle.” Excuse me?
Is there any person, perhaps even including the main craftsman, Betzalel, who was more directly involved in building the Tabernacle than Moses? Who was it who communicated every instruction from God regarding the donations for and the construction of the Tabernacle? Who carved and brought us the two tablets which are the center point of the Tabernacle? If you look at the Scripture describing the Tabernacle, Moses is part of it over and over and over.
What can it mean when ancient Jewish wisdom says, “Moses hadn’t done any work for the Tabernacle.”?
I have not yet learned an answer to this question. Nonetheless, here is what I do have for you. Doesn’t this scenario sound somewhat familiar? Can you think of anyone you know who may at times feel that they aren’t doing great things? Accomplishing what they could? That they are somewhat anonymous in the larger world? And yet… this person is behind everyone else’s accomplishments !
How many times does the wife and mother in a family feel that everyone else is doing things, stretching, growing, and they are only the facilitators in the background? We register our kids for activities and lessons, drive them there, and help them practice their new skills. Who’s the one noticeably accomplishing? The child obviously—we just provide support.
We run our homes and provide the background support that allows our husbands to grow in their careers and life paths. When we do our job well, it allows everyone else to do their jobs well, but to an uneducated eye it may seem as if we’re doing nothing while everyone else is doing everything. It is even possible to look at ourselves and our Tabernacles and think, “I haven’t done anything!”
This struck me last night as I was listening to my son practicing his Torah reading (again) for his Bar Mitzvah. Please God, on that day he will be up in front of the congregation reading the Torah for the whole community. It may look as if I had nothing to do with it. But truly, I will be behind his success just as Moses was behind each part of the Tabernacle. Yet in a way, it will look to those present as it looked in the desert—as if Moses, “had not done any work for the Tabernacle.”
Maybe that is why Moses gets the final task of actually putting it all together—the final step of creating a Tabernacle where before there wasn’t any structure. Yes, he wasn’t directly involved in contributing or building, but in reality he was everywhere and everything. And we are the same. We mothers may sometimes feel that we’re not accomplishing, but, just like Moses and the Tabernacle, we are really the force behind everything that everyone else in our family accomplishes.