You shall make a Menorah of pure gold, hammered out
shall the Menorah be made, its base, its shaft, its cups,
its knobs and its blossoms shall be [hammered] from it# (25:31)

Rashi calls our attention to the wording of this verse, which begins with “You shall make a Menorah,” but closes with “shall the Menorah be made.” The intricate elements of the Menorah were not to be made separately and then attached to it. Everything had to be hammered out from a single piece of gold.

Inasmuch as this was beyond human ability, God instructed Moses to put the gold ingots into the fire, and the Menorah emerged, fashioned by God.

This is an important lesson. We are obligated to do what is right and proper and demanded of us, but we are not always able to bring things to completion. But this does not give us permission to sit back and do nothing. We must do whatever is within our ability to do and trust in God for a favorable outcome.

This is a delicate balance which is often ignored. Some people insist on doing everything themselves, refusing to accept the limitations of reality. They become frustrated when they cannot control everything, even when clear thinking indicates that there are things beyond one's control. On the other hand, some people who realize that they cannot control the outcome may sit back and do nothing. “What's the use?” they say. “I cannot make things turn out the way I want anyway.”

The Menorah teaches us the proper balance. We must do what we can. When we have made a sincere effort, it is then that God will help us bring it to completion. “God will bless you in all that you do” (Deuteronomy 15:18).

The Baal Shem Tov uses this concept to explain a rather puzzling verse in Psalms. “Yours, O God, is kindness, for you repay each man according to his deeds” (Psalms 62:13). If God rewards a person only according to his deeds, that is simply justice. In what way is this a kindness?

The Baal Shem Tov says that a person only initiates the deed, but God brings it to completion, God rewards the person as if he had completed the entire deed himself. That is beyond what the person deserved, and that is a Divine kindness.

“You shall make” and “it shall be made.” The Menorah was a source of light. This lesson illuminates for us a proper path in life.