On the Way to the Top – Parshat Terumah

” This is the message that we receive from motivational speakers around the world. You can accomplish what you set your mind to. Just set your sights and get moving. And it really does work. You can reach your goals.

Just one thing…don’t step on anyone’s toes. You can get to where you’re going but be careful that you shouldn’t disregard others.

Even in the building of the Mishkan, the Torah tells us to take care that we shouldn’t inconvenience anyone. The building of the Holy Ark, like some of the other vessels of the Tabernacle, included the addition of rods to assist in their transport. Yet unlike the other vessels, the rods on the Ark were permanent – not to be removed.1 Chizkuni, the great 13th century French commentator, gives a practical reason for this difference. The Ark was in a remote place of the Mishkan and would not be in anyone’s way. The other vessels, like the brass covered Wooden Altar for instance was in a heavily-trafficked area where people would constantly be bustling and the rods would interfere.

 

On our path to our own self-actualization, as Abraham Maslow named it, we are not to ignore our surroundings. We must take care not to harm anyone on that path. Even more so, our path must be filled with acts that are other-related. If on our path to our fulfillment we look out only for ourselves then that path is not truly fulfilling.2This is our challenge in life.

At the very least we are to make sure that our progress does not interfere with that of others. At the very highest, our path to our own fulfillment should be of assistance to others as well.

As the great 20th century psychiatrist, Dr. Viktor Frankl said,”the meaning of my life is to help bring meaning to others.”3

Notes

  1. Shemot 25:15
  2. A central theme in the writings of Dr. Viktor Frankl – his magnum opus, Man’s Search for Meaning was called by the Library of Congress, one of the 100 greatest books of the 20th century