Parashat Pekudei, the parasha which concludes Sefer Shemot, begins with Moshe’s accounting of the expenses of the Mishkan that he presents to Benei Yisrael, a detailed description of everything that was done with the money. I assume that we all already know the reason behind this accounting, that logic dictates that Moshe should give such a report in order that nobody will suspect him, as every responsible leader should do. But did Moshe really have to make such an accounting? Was there any reason to believe that Benei Yisrael would suspect him, Moshe Rabbenu, the father of all prophets, the leader who led them from Egypt and only recently brought them the Torah from Hashem at Mount Sinai? Would Benei Yisrael actually imagine that Moshe Rabbenu would deceive them, God forbid? (Recall that in Parashat Ki-Tisa we encountered a similar question, as to how Benei Yisrael could have possibly made a golden calf so soon after Matan Torah.)
The haftara we read for Shabbat Shekalim (which is sometimes read as the haftara for Shabbat Parashat Pekudei) merely reinforces our question. This haftara deals with the renovations of the Bet Hamikdash that took place during the reign of King Yehoash. In the midst of this account in Sefer Melachim II there appears a pasuk that has the following to say about the king’s treasurers: “No check was kept on the men to whom the money was delivered to pay the workers, for they dealt honestly.” Chazal learn from this pasuk that honest people must be assigned to the job of treasurer, and these treasurers have no obligation to give an accounting of their handling of the funds. Seemingly, then, the accounting given by Moshe at the beginning of our parasha contradicts the halacha derived from the haftara! We must therefore explain that the report given by Moshe was in fact not strictly required; he rather presented it in order to avoid future complaints and accusations. But if we try to think about it logically, could it be that anyone from among Benei Yisrael would actually suspect Moshe? Would such a thing make any sense? Certainly we would answer in the negative. Yet, much to our astonishment, we indeed find those who suspected Moshe. The Yerushalmi in Masechet Bikkurim, commenting on the pasuk, “When Moshe went out to the Tent, all the people would rise and stand, each at the entrance of his tent, and they would look at Moshe until he entered the Tent,” brings two interpretations of this pasuk. According to the first, Benei Yisrael looked at Moshe with praise, admiring the fact that the Shechina would follow Moshe into the Tent. (See also Rashi on this pasuk.) But the other view explains as follows: “They would look and whisper to one another: See his thighs, how thick they are; of course, for he eats and drinks at our expense!” It is hard to read this and believe what we are reading, but this testifies to the fact that there were such people among Benei Yisrael who suspected Moshe, a phenomenon that repeats itself in Parashat Korach (where people among Benei Yisrael accused Moshe of sexual immorality). This is indeed hard to understand, and certainly we would be unable to find some logical explanation. Rav Nebenzahl, in one of his lectures on this parasha, explains that the suspicion results from hatred and jealousy which are driven by the yetzer hara. Just as in Parashat Korach the accusations evolved from jealousy, the same is true here. And we shouldn’t be surprised. A clear separation exists between the realm of the rational and that of one’s inclinations. Let us bring a simple example. A person who sins (certainly if we deal with someone who generally observes Torah and mitzvot and is aware of the prohibition) knows in the depths of his heart that he does something wrong that adversely affects his soul. Certainly if he would think about the matter rationally he would avoid the forbidden action. If so, then why is it an everyday occurrence that we fall prey to this lure or the other? The answer is obvious: thinking, we do with our minds, whereas wanting, we do with our inclinations. This wanting is so strong that the intellect lacks the wherewithal to independently overcome it. Therefore, in order to fight those negative inclinations, we must nurture the positive inclinations embedded with us. Logic and intellect are not enough to win this battle, as alluded to in the pasuk, “You shall know this day… and you shall return to your heart.” The Torah itself teaches us that besides the use of knowledge, the intellect, we must imprint the ideas upon our hearts in order that we arrive at the awareness that “Hashem is God – there is none besides Him.” One way to strengthen the positive inclinations within us is through simcha – joy. Serving Hashem joyfully is the recipe for subduing that yetzer hara which pulls us away from our logic and reason to sin. The month of Adar, the month that represents genuine simcha, is certainly an appropriate time for one to strengthen the joy in his heart, to develop true joy which is not disrupted or restricted by logic and reason (even when we an inebriated to the point where cannot distinguish between cursing Haman and blessing Mordechai – the main thing is simcha) and is even stronger than them.
We hope that this will lead us to that level of avodat Hashem – where it is driven not by intellect and knowledge, but rather by joy.