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ביום החדש הראשון באחד לחדש תקים את משכן אהל מועד

On the first day of the first month, you should set up the Mishkan of the Ohel Moed. (40:2)

Chazal (Midrash Tanchuma, Pikudei 11) teach that the construction of the Mishkan was completed within three months. Tishrei, Mar Cheshvan, Kislev. The people did not set up, however, until Rosh Chodesh Nissan, because Hashem wanted the festivities surrounding the erection of the Mishkan to be combined with the celebration of the birth of Yitzchak Avinu. What is there about Yitzchak Avinu’s birth, his entrance into the world, connects with the Mishkan? How do these two celebrations mesh, and what is the message for us? Let us focus on Yitzchak’s name, it source and what it represents vis-à-vis our nation. The…

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ויברך אותם משה

And Moshe blessed them. (39:43)

Rashi teaches that Moshe Rabbeinu’s blessing was: “Yehi ratzon, May it be His will that the Shechinah rest on the work of your hands; Vihi noam, May the pleasantness of our G-d be upon us.” What greater blessing can there be than knowing that Hashem’s Shechinah, His Divine Presence, rests upon his work? One can have no greater prize than having the Divine Presence crown his finished product. How did the people warrant such an extraordinary blessing? They were sincere in their contributing. Their donations – whether it was their best material or themselves – was all l’shem Shomayim, for…

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ויערך עליו ערך לחם לפני ד' כאשר צוה ד' את משה

He prepared on it the setting of bread before Hashem, as Hashem commanded Moshe. (40:23)

Everything in the Mishkan was carried out precisely as Hashem had commanded Moshe Rabbeinu – no more – no less – no infusion of self. Their personal zeal and enthusiasm in every aspect of their work were completely subordinated to the commands of Hashem. None of the craftsmen made any attempt to inject their own ideas or their own individuality to the construction of the Mishkan. They executed their mission obediently, with scrupulous care and precision, with unabashed joy at having been able to serve Hashem. By doing this, they achieved the sublime moral perfection which characterizes an eved, servant,…

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אלה פקודי המשכן משכן העדות

These are the mountings of the Mishkan, the Mishkan of Testimony. (38:21)

The word Mishkan is repeated (Rashi, citing the Midrash), alluding to the two Batei Mikdash (replacing the Mishkan) which were taken from us. The word Mishkan has the same letters as the word mashkon, which means collateral. This intimates (say Chazal) that the two Batei Mikdash are collateral for Klal Yisrael’s sins. When we sinned, we lost them, and they are being held in lieu of our repentance, after which the Bais Hamikdash will be restored to its previous glory. Veritably, in Jewish society, the most important place of worship is one’s own heart. The purpose of the Mishkan’s services…

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ויעש בצלאל את הארן עצי שטים אמתים וחצי ארכו ואמה וחצי רחבו

Betzalel made the Aron of Shittim wood, two and a half amos its length, an amah and a half its width. (37:1)

One of the miracles that occurred both in the Mishkan and in the Bais Hamikdash was: Makom ha’Aron eino min ha’middah; “The place occupied by the Aron HaKodesh was not included in its measurement.” This means that the Aron did not take up any space. The Kodesh HaKedoshim, Holy of Holies, was ten amos, cubits, by ten amos. The Aron was two and a half amos by one and a half amah by one and a half amah. When the Aron was brought into the Kodesh HaKedoshim and the space from its width and length was measured, every side of…

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ששת ימים תעשה מלאכה וביום השביעי יהיה לכם קדש שבת שבתון לד'

On six days work may be done, but the seventh day shall be holy for you, a day of complete rest for Hashem. (35:2)

Shabbos occurs on the seventh day of the week. Why does the Torah assert that working during the six days of the week that precede Shabbos is appropriate? The Torah is addressing the prohibition of laboring on Shabbos. What do the six workdays have to do with Shabbos? The Chafetz Chaim, zl, asked this question when he addressed the chillul, desecration, of Shabbos manifest by a certain gvir, wealthy man, in one of the communities he visited when he was selling his sefarim. The Chafetz Chaim met privately with the man in the hope that he could present a passionate…

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ויקם משה את המשכן... וישם את מכסה האהל עליו מלמעלה כאשר צוה ד' את משה

Moshe erected the Mishkan… and he put the cover of the Tent-spread on it from above as Hashem commanded Moshe. (40:18,19)

Moshe Rabbeinu was the one who raised the Mishkan, assembling it in accordance with Hashem’s command. Betzalel was the architect of the Mishkan, preparing its parts and vessels, so that Moshe could erect it. Why Moshe?  Why not Betzalel?   Why not Aharon? It is not as if they did not have a vested interest in seeing the finished product. To Betzalel, it would mean that he had carried out Hashem’s Will to build the Mishkan in order to atone for the sin of the Golden Calf, during which his grandfather had been murdered. Aharon HaKohen played a role in the creation…

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ויביאו את המשכן אל משה

And they brought the Mishkan to Moshe. (39:33)

Rashi explains that the people came to Moshe Rabbeinu with a problem: They had formed all of the Mishkan’s components, but they just could not seem to erect it. Whatever they did – did not endure. Apparently, Hashem wanted Moshe to put the finishing touch on the Mishkan. Rashi teaches that Moshe had previously not been involved in either contributing towards nor constructing the Mishkan. Hashem gave him the opportunity to put the finishing touch on their work. Indeed, without him their work would have been for naught, because it could not achieve viability until it was standing erect. Furthermore,…

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בקע לגלגלת מחצית השקל בשקל הקדש לכל העבר על הפקדים

A beka for every head, a half-shekel to the sacred shekel for everyone who passed through the census takers. (38:26)

So many people contributed towards the Mishkan. One might think that due to the sheer numbers of contributors, the individual contribution/contributor would become lost in the shuffle. Such thoughts are the result of a small mind or limited cognitive ability. Nothing is insignificant in the eyes of Hashem. Indeed, this is true concerning all spirituality. Everything counts. One never knows what good can result from a single act of spirituality. The following vignettes underscore this idea. A young Kollel fellow maintained an outreach program out of a small shul in central Eretz Yisrael. He was extremely dedicated to his mission…

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אלה פקודי המשכן

These are the accountings of the Mishkan. (38:21)

The Torah dedicates four parshiyos to details of the construction of the Mishkan, its keilim, utensils, and the Bigdei Kehunah, Priestly vestments, worn by the Kohanim when they performed the avodah, service, in the Mishkan/Bais Hamikdash. Both Parashas Vayakhel and Parashas Pekudei recap the many contributions and utensils required for the construction of the Mishkan. All of this was for the place in which Hashem’s Shechinah, Divine Presence, would repose here on earth. Basking in the Shechinah’s Presence would seem to be the penultimate experience. Coming to Yerushalayim just to be in the Holy City, near the Bais Hamikdash, would…

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