We notice in this weeks parsha that the Nessiim step forward to give gifts of precious stones after the gold, silver and copper is dedicated. It would seem that the other of priority is mixed up, and that diamonds should come at the top of the list, not after copper.

The Or Hachaim, offers an intriguing answer to this difficulty. His solution is based on a section in the Talmud (Yoma) that states that these precious gems fell from the clouds ready-made. Therefore, the Or Hachaim continues, since these stones were attained through no exertion at all, they were listed following all the other materials that came from the Jews' own pockets and self-sacrifice .

The message here is quite clear. When we invest time and energy into some activity it becomes meaningful and worthwhile to us, while something achieved easily and effortlessly makes no impact on our lives. The distinction can be easily discerned by contrasting two students, both of whom score 95% on an exam. One student, gifted with a brilliant mind, scores 95% with no trouble at all. For him, the test means nothing -- another day another `A'. The next day, the test is already forgotten as simply as another meaningless activity in his life experience. The other student however, not as bright as the first, must spend night after night, week's prior to the exam, studying in order to score the same 95%. For this student, this test means much more. This remarkable accomplishment will stick in his head for months to come and will serve as an inspiration for future struggles he may have. Clearly, the importance and significance of an achievement attained through hard work and effort cannot compare to one realized through no struggle whatsoever.

For us today, living in a "couch potato" society, this message is especially important to keep in mind. Many times, we look for the easy way out. A loophole, a shortcut -- we search for anything that will make our lives easier. While, in general, there may be nothing wrong with this approach, we must realize that this is not the correct strategy when it comes to performing Hashem's mitzvos. By choosing the "easy way out" in mitzvah observance, we are, in effect, cheapening and depreciating the mitzvah's value. The less effort invested in performing the mitzvah, the less importance we attach to that mitzvah. Soon, the mitzvos fall to the bottom of our priority list as they have become meaningless and unnecessary activities.

Instead, we must pull ourselves out of that comatosed state and learn to labor and toil when it comes to mitzvah observance. Instead of searching for every shortcut and loophole in the book, we must strive to work and sweat to perform the mitzvos. Only when we invest the proper time and effort in the mitzvos can we truly appreciate the beauty and greatness of the Torah and its laws.

Good Shabbos!

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