Parshat Pekudei 5784: Overcoming Tendencies Toward, and Motivations Behind Envy and Lust for Power

Shalom Friends;

This year’s Parshat Pekudei vort is being sponsored by Rabbi Elozer Dovid and Estie Gluck and family of Sorotskin in Yerushalayim dedicated for their daughter Brachi’s recent marriage to Yitzi Steinhaus and dedicated for the safety of the Chayalim and the liberation of all hostages and their return home whole physically, mentally and spiritually.. To the Gluck family, many thanks for your sponsorship and for your continued kindnesses.

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Moshe Burt
Skype: mark.burt3

Parshat Pekudei 5784: Overcoming Tendencies Toward, and Motivations Behind Envy and Lust for Power

by Moshe Burt

Near the end of our Parshat Pekudei, Torah records a message at least, if not more, pertinent today than when Hashem commanded Moshe about Aaron and his sons:

“‘You shall bring Aaron and his sons near to the entrance of the Ohel Mo’ed, and immerse them in water. You shall dress Aaron in the sacred vestments [Bigdei HaKodesh as per Iv’rit in the Parsha] and anoint him; you shall sanctify him and he shall minister [be a Kohen as per the Iv’rit of the Parsha] to me. And his sons you shall bring them near and dress them in tunics. You shall anoint them as you anointed their father and they shall minister [be Kohanim] to Me, and so it shall be that their anointment shall be for eternal priesthood for their generations.’ Moshe did according to everything that Hashem commanded him, so he did.'” (Sefer Shemos, Perek 40, posukim 12 – 16 as rendered to English in the Artscroll Stone Edition Chumash)

Rabbi Zelig Pliskin, in his sefer “Growth Through Torah,” (pages 233-234) cites Rabbi Meir Simcha HaKohen:

After being told to anoint Aaron, Moshe was told in reference to Aaron’s sons: “You shall anoint them as you anointed their father”

Rabbi Meir Simcha HaKohen explained that when Moshe was told to anoint his brother Aaron he was able to do it with a complete heart. Moshe, the younger brother, … was happy that his brother was the High Priest [Kohen Godol]. But, in reference to Aaron’s sons, Moshe’s own sons were not going to succeed him as leaders. So when it came to anointing Aaron’s sons Moshe might have felt envy.

Therefore, Hashem told Moshe to anoint Aaron’s sons with the same wholeheartedness and joy with which he anointed their father.
(Rabbi Pliskin citing Meshech Chochmah)

It is amazing that Moshe would need a special command to overcome envy. We see from here that even the greatest person needs to internalize attitudes that will help him avoid envy. Moreover, we see that it is possible to feel joy and enthusiasm for another person’s success even if that person has something that you do not.

Rabbi Pliskin goes on to write (ibid, page 234) :

Moshe’s motivations in all that he did for the Mishkan was for the Almighty’s honor. Even though he personally would gain from the construction of the Mishkan, for the Almighty would communicate with him there, he was not motivated by thoughts of his own glory. Neither was he motivated by thoughts of the honor of his brother, Aaron who was to be the High Priest. Moshe focused totally on doing the will of Hashem. (Rabbi Pliskin citing HaEmek Dovor)

This is a most difficult task: to do something for which you will have great benefit yourself and still to have pure motivations. But the more sacred the work you are involved in the greater the importance of elevated thoughts and motivations.

The website published an article authored by Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, z”l which this author excerpts:

The Torah points us in the direction of an ideal world, but it does not assume that we have reached it yet or are within striking distance. The people Moses led, like many of us today, were still prone to ambition, aspiration, vanity, and self-esteem. They still had the human desire for honor, status and respect. And Moses had to recognize that fact. It would be a major source of conflict in the months and years ahead.

The lesson of this vort regarding the overcoming of tendencies and motivations behind envy and lust for power seem to this author meant for all of us — the people, the politicians and the governance of Israel. When, as a result of envy and lust for power, there evolves a concentration of power by a sector of the Am, over a sustained period of time, there evolves a jealousy among them regarding the sustenance of their power which then seemingly leads to hubris: overconfidence and self-conceit concerning their leadership ability. This hubris by Israel’s entrenched top military brass, as well as politicos and entrenched bureaucrats, i.e. the Israel “Deep State,” in large part led to the catastrophe of 7 October.

When we follow the paradigm of Moshe Rabbeinu, we will glorify Hashem’s Name and thus, earn back the collateral twice taken from us in the form of Moshiach and the Third Beit HaMikdash, please speedily in our times.

May it be that our Chayalim emerge totally victorious — eradicating Hamas, their terrorist buddies and the so-called “innocent civilians” of Gaza who joined with Hamas in their murderous deeds, and that they (the Chayalim) return home whole — physically, mentally and spiritually and that the Chayalim Liberate and bring home all remaining hostages. And may we see the restoration of true unity within Am Yisrael.

May we, the B’nei Yisrael be zocha that our brethren — the refugee families from Gush Katif be permanently re-settled in Gush Katif, once the IDF, by the Yad Hashem, destructs and eradicates the wild beasts of Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Hezbollah, all other terror entities, and if necessary Iran, and that our brethren be made totally whole — be totally restituted for all that was stolen from them, that the thrice expelled families of Amona be restored to their rebuilt homes and the oft-destroyed Yeshiva buildings in Homesh be rebuilt, as well as the buildings of Yishuv Elchanan, all at total government expense. May our Chayalim return from battle unharmed — physically, mentally and spiritually and may all of the hostages brutally taken by the wild beasts of Hamas be liberated and returned to their families. Baruch Hashem that our dear brother Jonathan Pollard is now in his fourth year at home in Eretz Yisrael and continues in a new chapter in his life. May Esther Yocheved bat Yechiel Avraham have an aliyah in Shemayim and may her spirit and memory continue to lift Jonathan to at least 120 years. May the MIAs be liberated alive and returned to us in ways befitting Al Kiddush Hashem — as with the return in April, 2019, via Russia, of the remains of Zachariah Baumel, as should the remains of the two chayalim from the Gaza War of nine years ago. May we have the courage and strength to stand up and physically prevent the possibility of Chas V’Challila any future eviction of Jews from their homes and prevent Chas V’Challila the handing of Jewish land over to anyone, let alone to enemies sworn to Israel’s and Judaism’s destruction and eradication. May we see, in 5784, the REAL Jews from the Ukraine and Russia as well as the US and Canada, the real Jews via matrilineal descent, make Aliyah enmass — via thorough review by Misrad HaPanim. And may we soon and finally see the total end to the Communist Chinese Wuhan Lab corona virus pandemic and all like viruses and variants. May we fulfill Hashem’s blueprint of B’nei Yisrael as a Unique people — an Am Segula, not to be reckoned with as with “the nations” and may we be zocha to see the Moshiach, the Ge’ula Shlaima, as Dov Shurin sings; “Ki Karov Yom Hashem Al’Kol HaGoyim”, the Ultimate Redemption, bimhayrah b’yamainu — speedily, in our time”, — Achshav, Chik Chuk, Miyad, Etmol!!!

Chodesh Tov and Good Shabbos!
Moshe Burt, an Oleh, is a commentator on news and events in Israel and Founder and Director of The Sefer Torah Recycling Network. He lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh.