The Effort Counts Too
This week’s Parsha (Parshas Terumah) describess the various vessels that were used in the service of the Mishkan [Tabernacle]. One of them was the Menorah.
The Gemara in Menachos tells us that Moshe had difficulty comprehending how to “construct” the Menorah. After Moshe struggled to make the Menorah and was unsuccessful, Hashem told him to throw gold into a fire. A miracle occurred and the Menorah was created.
If Hashem knew that Moshe would be unsuccessful in creating the Menorah, why did Hashem tell Moshe to put forth effort that would seemingly be for naught?
A fundamental principle concerning Torah study is that not only the Torah knowledge one attains that counts; rather, it is also the effort and exertion that one puts into the learning that is significant.
The great Chofetz Chaim, Rav Yisroel Meir Kagan, cites the origin of the aforementioned principle in the language of the Hadran-the prayer said at the completion of a section of Torah. We read ‘ we [Jews] toil and receive reward, whereas they [the gentiles] toil and don’t receive reward.’
The obvious question that begs our attention, is that even Gentiles receive reward in this world for their actions! When they sell something, they are paid for it, so what does this passage mean?
The Chofetz Chaim answers that the language of the Hadran is that we [Jews] toil and receive reward, whereas they [the gentiles] toil and don’t receive reward. In the business world, gentiles are rewarded for their actions, but only for a finished product. It doesn’t matter how much effort a tailor puts into making a suit; if the suit is incomplete, no one will pay him for the incomplete garment. This is in contrast to the Torah world, where Torah study is what matters. Even if one doesn’t completely understand the Parshas Ha’shavua he is studying, or is struggling with grasping a Gemara or a commentary, that is okay. He will be rewarded for it.
What’s important in Hashem’s eyes is how much EFFORT and TOIL we put into our learning.
Our Sages tell us that the different vessels in the Mishkan [Tabernacle] and Beis Hamikdash [Holy Temple] correspond to the various elements of our lives. The Menorah corresponds to the wisdom of Torah.
Perhaps we can now answer our original question: Hashem specifically commanded Moshe Rabeinu-the one who exemplified Torah study, who received and transmitted to us the Torah, and whose neshama [spiritual soul] is in every Torah Giant- to struggle with the creation of the Menorah to teach us this fundamental principle about Torah study; that it is the effort, and not the finished product, that counts in Hashem’s eyes.
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