Vayakheil-Pekudei – Eye on the Prize
The foundation of true accomplishment is a clear focus on mission, on the goal and purpose towards which we point all our efforts.
While this may sound like a line from a popular text on management or personal productivity, it is actually the opening line of Rav M.C. Luzzatto’s Mussar classic, Mesilas Yesharim, The Path of the Just. “The foundation of devoutness and the root of pure service is to clarify… what their purpose is in this world and towards what to place their vision and focus in all their efforts every day of their life.”
We do so many “things”, check off so many tasks, and fulfill so many obligations. Without a unifying vision and clear sense of purpose they remain disjointed and fall far short of where they could and should reach.
This is the reason for the shift between how the plans for construction of the Mishkan were presented versus how those plans were executed. In our Parsha (chapters 36 and 37) it describes the actual sequence of construction, first creating the building and then filling it with its sacred elements, while in the plans conveyed in Terumah (chapter 25 to 27) it begins with the Aron Hakodesh, the holy ark. That ark contained the Luchos inscribed with the Ten Commandments and was the place where the Divine presence visibly rested. That ark was the focal point of the entire Temple project: the creation of a place for G-d to reside amongst us. That is what it was all about, and so we present it first even if we only build it last (see Ramban’s introduction to Terumah.)
When we create clarity of purpose at the outset and keep it in mind throughout, we will not get lost along the way.
This dynamic was also in place when we began the road to redemption in Egypt. At the outset (Shemos 3:12), Hashem shared with Moshe the ultimate goal: “When you take the people out of Egypt, they will serve G-d at this mountain (Sinai).” That is what this road to freedom was about. And we bring that back every Pesach, when we celebrate our freedom one night, and the next night we begin the count of Sefirat HaOmer, looking ahead to our goal, to arrive at Sinai.
When we keep our eye on the prize, on our true mission, on Sinai, everything we do will bring us closer to getting there