Every Motzei Shabbos we begin our week with a prayer that was uttered by Moshe Rabbeinu himself.
ויהי נועם ד' אלקינו עלינו ומעשה ידינו כוננה עלינו ומעשה ידינו כוננהו (תהלים צ יז), May the pleasantness of my Lord, our G-d, be upon us - our handiwork, may He establish for us; our handiwork, may He establish.
This sentiment was first expressed by Moshe after having observed how remarkably the Jewish nation rallied with great dispatch in performing all the work necessary to fashion the Tabernacle and its instruments, exactly as they were instructed, going on to bless them.
He addressed them stating, “May it be G-d’s will that the Shechinah, the Divine Presence, rest upon your handiwork”, then reciting the previous quoted verse, ויהי נועם..., May the pleasantness...
Why do we repeat this wish specifically right after Shabbos? This seems to be a blessing associated with the construction of the Mishkan exclusively, in what way is this relevant to us on a weekly basis?
Additionally, is this verse wishing them to sense the pleasantness of G-d the natural consequence of the first half of Moshe’s blessing that the Shechinah rest upon their handiwork?
Finally what is this ‘pleasantness’ Moshe refers to? Is it an emotion, a physical sensation, or some form of mental calm?
The Targum Yehonoson informs us that it is בסימותא גן עדן, a scent of the Garden of Eden.
Is that all it is?
The Midrash reveals that the word for the Tabernacle, משכן, alludes to another word with the same letters, משכון, a collateral.
G-d implied that there will come a time where due to our sins and debts of service accrued, He will take away the Temple as security for that liability, until such time as we make good on our original commitment.
But how can G-d be assured that we will ever desire that collateral back, maybe we will opt to forfeit it all in lieu of all the exciting opportunities we now have to indulge in a world of physical pleasures rather than spiritual duties?
The tangible Mishkan was never the final objective, it is rather the residing of the Shechinah within each one of us. It is the sense of connection with G-d we live with every moment of our existence is what is intended in all this endeavor. It is a restoration of original station in the Garden of Eden, where the fragrant presence of the Divine permeated every fiber of our being.
There is nothing more pleasant than being in that embrace.
Within this reality lays G-d’s genius. No other engagement in the menu of life’s offerings can approximate the joy our souls absorbed in that former ecstatic state in Gan Eden. G-d is patient, for He knows that we can never attain satisfaction in any activity until we return and permit Him to dwell within each one of us. One day we will reclaim the security G-d’s is protecting for us, by paying Him back in full.
After experiencing a semblance of that world each week we transition into the six days of labor.
We get distracted by the allure of success, by the seductive comforts of an illusory world we encounter in the daily routine of a world bereft of a Temple.
Before we dive in head first, we remind ourselves of that ancient prayer of Moshe.
Our handiwork; our involvements, whatever they may be, are capable of procuring scents from Gan Eden if we utilize them correctly seeking to infuse the ‘pleasantness’ of G-d in those noble endeavors.
In reporting the accomplishments of the people, the Torah refers to, כל העבודה, all the work/labor, and later to, כל המלאכה, the entire work/accomplishments.
The Malbim asserts that, עבודה/labor emphasizes the toil, whereas מלאכה/accomplishment underscores the goal. The word מלאכה, shares the same root as the word for an angel, a מלאך, the source meaning to ‘serve’, indication a sense of mission.
Moshe realized they weren’t such devoted to the ‘labor’ but even more so to the mission, striving to rediscover their lifeline to Gan Eden.
If we live our lives with a sense of mission, striving to find the only true ‘pleasantness’ in life, we will succeed in never being deluded by false pleasures and empty accomplishments and making room within our hearts for the Shechinah itself!
How pleasant it is!
צבי יהודה טייכמאן