Dvar for Vayakhel/Pekudei (Exodus 35:1-40:38)
As the nation transforms into a giving people, the materials needed to complete the Mishkan are donated so generously that Moshe must tell the people to stop contributing (36:6). The tribal leaders commit to supplying whatever materials are not supplied by the children of Israel, but once everything has been donated for the Mishkan, the leaders are stuck not having contributed. This subsequently prompts the priests to contribute the shoham stones for the ephod and choshen before anyone else is given the opportunity (35:27). Generally, וְהַנְשִׂיאִים is the word used in the Torah to denote leaders but here, when referenced, their name seems to be missing a yud, וְהַנְשִׂאִם. Is there a plausible explanation for this?
The priests’ offer to supply all that was missing from the donations could have amounted to a more generous donation than that of anyone else. Rav Chaim Shmulevitz highlights Rashi’s assertion that however generous the priests’ proposal may have been, their underlying motivation for that offer stemmed from laziness. Their seemingly magnanimous offer to cover the balance of what was needed was simply a way to excuse them from donating initially.
Our mind has an uncanny ability to justify and rationalize our actions, to the point where we can sometimes fool ourselves into believing the justification. This inclination to rationalize poor decisions is the reason why we are urged to be “zrizim,” jumping at opportunities when they present themselves.