In reviewing the process of collecting for the Mishkan, the Torah describes how overwhelming the contributions of the Jewish people were: “And their giving was enough for the tasks of creating [the Mishkan], and more”. Many commentaries try to explain why the end of the verse seems to contradict the beginning. Was the work just enough, or were there extra funds leftover? Which one was it?!
The Sforno explains that the “extra” allowed them to do the work of the Mishkan with just the right amount of comfort. It wouldn’t be concerning for them when they used up some materials and fear that they wouldn’t have enough for later. The “extra” amount was just the right amount to make them feel comfortable doing the work without concern. The Ohr Hachaim, however, explains that the extra was really extra- that they did give too much, relative to what Hashem had asked. In response, however, Hashem didn’t keep them as leftovers. Instead, He cared about each individual and their contribution so much that He made a task or a need for each and every donation. Hashem didn’t want some people to feel like their investment was unnecessary, unwanted, or unrewarding. In so doing, everything which a person gave became beneficial and satisfying for the purpose of the Mishkan.
Sometimes we may feel that our actions in a religious realm make no difference. We daven, learn, and do acts of kindness, often with no visible, tangible reward. Homiletically, perhaps the Ohr HaChaim is reminding us all that the work we do- even if it seems superfluous- is taken and cherished, and it satisfies a part of Hashem’s plan. Maybe we see others leading the davening and think to ourselves- their’s is enough, why should I also daven? Maybe we see others who can study “better” than us and think their studies are worth more- what good can my learning add? We have to remember that for Hashem, nothing we do is “extra”. Our religious commitment and contributions will always be of value, no matter what else everyone else has already done, and no matter how little we think we’re doing. Even if it seems “extra”, our extra is just enough.