The floor of the Beis HaMikdash was composed of beautiful tiles. The Gemara discusses the halachah if one of the tiles became dislodged. May the kohen stand on the wobbly tile and perform the avodah?
In the ensuing discussion, the Gemara establishes the fact that the floor of the Beis HaMikdash was sanctified by none other than Dovid HaMelech. Tosfos points out that this is somewhat difficult to reconcile, as we know that the Beis HaMikdash was built by Shlomo HaMelech. Tosfos is forced to conclude that even though Dovid HaMelech did not build the Beis HaMikdash, he still sanctified the floor.
According to some Acharonim, he actually built at least part of the floor. Rashi understands that the process involved the Korban Todah, whereas Tosfos says that remnants of a Minchah offering were used. But everyone agrees there was some process that Dovid HaMelech utilized to sanctify the future area of the Beis HaMikdash.
Rabbi Sholom Rosner pointed out that there is a lesson here for everyone. Dovid HaMelech was inspired to build the Beis HaMikdash. He even consulted with Nosson HaNavi, who told him to proceed with his plans. However, his dreams were immediately dashed by a subsequent prophecy by Nosson HaNavi. He was directed by Hashem to inform Dovid HaMelech that he was not allowed to build the Beis HaMikdash; that would be reserved for his son. In fact, Hashem told Nosson HaNavi to deliver the message promptly. Dovid, in his inspired state to build the Beis HaMikdash, might immediately hire workers. Alternatively, Dovid might make a vow not to eat or sleep until he starts the project. Therefore, Hashem instructed Nosson HaNavi to deliver his message with all due haste.
Upon being apprised that he could not fulfill his dreams, Dovid HaMelech did not wallow in self-pity. He did not angrily reject involvement in the project. Quite the opposite — he became involved as much as he could. He located and purchased the eventual site for the Beis HaMikdash. He consecrated all the spoils of subsequent wars for building the Beis HaMikdash. He drew up detailed plans for its design and amassed vast amounts of building materials for its construction. (See Rashi on Shmuel II 8:7 and Divrei HaYamim I, chapters 22–29.) According to some opinions, he even tiled at least part of the floor. When the Gemara discusses the halachic problem of the broken tiles, it references the sanctification that Dovid HaMelech performed. His sanctification of the floor had a lasting effect. Even though he could not personally build the entire Beis HaMikdash, he was still involved as much as possible in its eventual construction.
Dovid HaMelech followed the example of Moshe Rabbeinu. Chazal tell us how much Moshe wanted to enter Eretz Yisrael. He davened repeatedly to be allowed to enter. However, the Midrash says that for the benefit of Klal Yisrael, his request was not granted and his punishment was not lifted. Hashem commanded the Jewish nation to set aside six cities of refuge. Three were to be in Israel proper and three in Transjordan. Moshe Rabbeinu, who was not allowed in Eretz Yisrael, could not possibly designate all six cities. While he could designate the three cities in Transjordan, his designation would not be in effect until the remaining three cities in Israel were likewise designated as cities of refuge.
It was the very punishment of not being allowed in Eretz Yisrael that stopped Moshe from fulfilling the mitzvah of activating all six cities of refuge. Yet, Moshe Rabbeinu nevertheless exclaimed, “A mitzvah that I could fulfill, I will fulfill” (Rashi, Devarim 4:4). Whereupon, he performed the designation process for the three cities in Transjordan, knowing full well that it would not be effective in his lifetime. He was denied the opportunity to fulfill the entire mitzvah, but he did the most he could in his situation. He did not become bitter at his predicament, but rather attempted to rescue whatever remained for him of the mitzvah.
There is a famous mashal that is said in the name of the Chofetz Chaim. A person once complained to the great tzaddik that every time he davens Shemoneh Esreih, his mind wanders and his whole tefillah is a waste. The Chofetz Chaim asked the man, “And when you realize mid-tefillah that your mind is wandering, what do you do?” The man replied, “By that time the tefillah is already lost.”
The Chofetz Chaim replied, “There was an apple vendor with a cart filled with the delicious fruit. The cart tipped over and animals began grabbing the fruit. The vendor was crying about his plight. Suddenly, a passerby shouted to him, “Don’t just stand there! The animals are grabbing fruit, so you grab, too! Save what you can!”
“So too,” the Chofetz Chaim continued, “you may have lost some blessings to the yetzer ha’ra, but just as he is grabbing blessings, you should grab, too. Even if you only concentrate for one blessing, you have already accomplished a great feat!”
In 1993, there was a sick man in Yerushalayim who needed multiple blood transfusions. Unfortunately, he already used up the amount of blood allotted to him. His relative approached the rosh yeshiva of a local yeshiva in Sanhedria Murchevet and asked if he could send boys to donate blood. The patient would be credited for every blood donation even if the blood type did not match. A group of ten bachurim was organized to donate blood.
Upon arrival at the blood donation center, two of the bachurim were disqualified. One of them had a medical condition that prevented him from donating blood. The other bachur had taken a steroid and was not allowed to donate blood for a few days. One of the rejected bachurim sat by sadly as he watched his friends perform the tremendous mitzvah. He had to wait for the car service that would be taking all of them back.
However, the other bachur leaped into action. There were random people coming to donate blood. He approached them and asked if they would mind crediting their donation to the sick patient. Because of this bachur’s actions, the patient received all of the blood credit he needed. This young man could not do the mitzvah personally, but he still accomplished the goal.
Frequently an individual has grand plans to help but sometimes insurmountable obstacles surface. The correct approach is not to sit and wallow in self-pity. The individual should rededicate himself. He should see if there is any part of the plan that can be salvaged. Likewise, if an individual sees that he has been lax in the performance of a mitzvah, he can determine that from now on he will perform the mitzvah properly. Moshe Rabbeinu and Dovid HaMelech teach us that even if one cannot perform an entire mitzvah, he should grab any part of the mitzvah he still can.
Rabbi Avrohom Sebrow leads a daf yomi chaburah at Eitz Chayim of Dogwood Park in West Hempstead. He can be contacted at ASebrow@gmail.com.