| Parshah |

Behind the C-enes

"You get none of the glory but continue to serve. That’s rav!” Extraordinary!


“But Hashem got angry with me because of you, and He did not listen to me, and Hashem said to me, ‘It is enough for you! Do not continue to speak to Me about this matter.’ ” (Devarim 3:26)

Harav Shimon Schwab in his sefer Maayan Beis Hashoeivah discusses the wording, “Rav lach, it is enough for you.” This doesn’t sound like the affectionate or appeasing language you’d expect Hashem to have toward Moshe as he’s begging to go into Eretz Yisrael.

Furthermore, the Gemara (Sotah 13b) compares this lashon with the language of “Rav lach” that Moshe said to Bnei Levi during Korach’s rebellion. The Gemara explains that because Moshe used that wording when talking to Bnei Levi, Hashem used it to him.

This Gemara begs explanation. Was Moshe being punished now for that phrasing? Was it wrong that he said it? (Rav Yisroel Reisman, Shiurim on Chumash)

Today was C-day in the day camp I was running for my kids and some neighborhood kids who were left camp-less. Only three days into our ABC theme and I was ready for V-day. Vacation.

But you can’t change the alphabet, so for C-day we had a Carnival complete with cotton candy, car wash, crayon hunt, and cookie baking. All afternoon I was accompanied by crunches and crumbs, cries and chaos. By the time evening came I was ready to crash.

Confetti littered the floor. Shloime had unearthed a still-hidden crayon and was decorating the bottom of his shoe. Yitzi’s cookies had burned and he was begging everyone for handouts. My house was a wreck. And the worst was that everyone was cranky and complaining. Didn’t anyone appreciate my hard work?

Rav Schwab answers this question with an incredible yesod that’s essential to any Jew who’s active in the needs of his community.

Rav Schwab gives us insight into the complaints of Korach’s followers, Bnei Levi. What was the job of the Leviim? The Jews moved 42 times during their years in the desert. Each time, the Leviim had to disassemble the Mishkan, cover all parts properly, carry some of them. It was hard work.

Meanwhile their wives were collecting the children’s slippers and pajamas, getting ready to move. But the father was a Levi, and so he was needed to take care of the Mishkan.

Once Klal Yisrael got to their new destination, the family had to settle in, but again — since the father was a Levi, he was busy setting up the Mishkan.

And then, as soon as the Mishkan was ready for avodah, the Leviim were told, “Your job is done, back off.” Only Kohanim had the right to do the avodah, only Kohanim had special clothing, only Kohanim got to eat from the various korbanos. A Levi was no more than a Yisrael at that point.

This seems to be upsetting. I take care of the hard labor, but to the public, I get none of the glory?

This concept is familiar to those involved in their community. There are many people who work hard behind the scenes and rarely get credit for it.

That was Bnei Levi’s complaint. It’s not fair. Moshe Rabbeinu said to them, “Know that what you’re doing is an extraordinary thing. It’s rav, huge! Serving Hashem behind the scenes shows your avodah is completely l’sheim Shamayim. You get none of the glory but continue to serve. That’s rav!” Extraordinary!

I decided C-day called for a nighttime curfew and decreed an early bedtime. I crawled into bed with a prayer on my lips. Hashem, please help me have the strength for these children, the courage to face another day of vacation, and the wisdom of Shlomo Hamelech. I need all I can get.

In this concept lies the similarity to Moshe’s conversation with Hashem. For 40 years, Moshe had nurtured Bnei Yisrael, carrying them through every challenge. Now he wants nachas, to see them enjoying their lives in Eretz Yisrael.

Hashem answers, “Rav lach, you did a lot.” It’s extraordinary what you did. Even if you’re behind the scenes, know that your input was essential.

As I drifted off to sleep I remembered a conversation I’d had with my mother after a particularly harrowing Chol Hamoed trip.

“Don’t expect kids to acknowledge the hard work you put in,” she wisely advised. “Just know if you did your part, then that’s success.”

I guess I aced C-day.

Now I was davening hard for D-day.

(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 703)

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