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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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ראו קרא ד' בשם בצלאל... וימלא אתו רוח אלקים בחכמה בתבונה ובדעת... ולהורות נתן בלבו

“See, Hashem has proclaimed by name Betzalel… He filled him with G-dly spirit, with wisdom, insight and knowledge…He gave him the ability to teach. (35:31,34)

Hashem selected the young Betzalel to become the master architect of the Mishkan, as he was endowed with exceptional wisdom, insight and knowledge. He had the necessary knowledge vital to creating a dwelling place for the Shechinah, Divine Presence. Chazal (Tanchuma Mikeitz 69) teach that Betzalel manifested his extraordinary qualities and talents even before his appointment to this distinguished position. Hashem grants wisdom to one who already possesses wisdom. Yahiv chochma la’chakimi; “He grants wisdom to the wise” (Daniel 2:2). It makes sense to grant wisdom to the wise. After all, they will know what to do with it. Chazal (Midrash)…

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לא תבערו אש בכל משבתוכם ביום השבת

You shall not kindle fire in any of your dwellings on the Shabbos day. (35:3)

The Torah can be understood only through the interpretive eyes of the Oral Law. This prohibition is a classic example of this verity. Chazal teach that only the creation of fire and use of it for cooking or baking are prohibited. There is, however, no prohibition against enjoying its benefits, such as light and heat. The Tzedukim, Saducees, forbade all use of fire. Thus, Shabbos was a day during which they sat in the dark and consumed cold food. (How fitting that one who does not allow the Torah (as given on Har Sinai – both written and oral) to…

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וביום השביעי יהיה לכם קדש שבת שבתון לד'

But the seventh day shall be holy for you, a day of complete rest for Hashem. (35:2)

The Zohar HaKadosh (Parashas Korach) writes: “The Shechinah, Divine Presence, did not move away from Klal Yisrael on Shabbos and Yamim Tovim – even on Shabbosos of chol, weekday.” Obviously, the term Shabbosos d’chol, weekday Shabbos, or Shabbos weekday is fraught with ambiguity. Shabbos and chol are incongruous to one another. How do they weave together to create a Shabbos of weekday? Each in his own inimitable manner, the commentators address this Zohar. In U’Masuk Haor, Horav Shlomo Levenstein, Shlita, cites a number of expositions. I have selected a few that offer food for thought. The Pri Megadim (Kuntros Mattan…

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קחו מאתכם תרומה לה'

Take from yourselves a terumah, portion, for Hashem. (35:5)

What is the meaning of Kechu me’itchem, “Take from yourselves?” From whom else should they take, if not from themselves? The sefer, Torei Zahav, offers an insightful interpretation of this phrase. One who is about to offer a terumah, portion, to Hashem; i.e., one who wants to determine the best medium, the strongest motivation, for serving Hashem, should take from himself. He should study his own life experiences and ask himself, “I receive so much from Hashem. I owe Him everything. I should serve Him in a manner that shows that I know, I care, I am thankful.” The author…

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והנשאם הביאו את אבני השהם ואת אבני המלאוים לאפוד ולחשן

The Nesiim/Princes brought the Shoham stones and the stones for the settings for the Ephod and the Choshen. (35:27)

Chizkuni teaches that when the Nesiim left Egypt, they chose to include precious stones among their requests of the Egyptians. They knew that there would be a Sanctuary and that the Kohanim would administer the service under the leadership of a Kohen Gadol. They were aware that the Kohen Gadol would wear special Priestly Vestments, among which would be the Ephod and Choshen – two articles that would have the names of the tribes inscribed on them l’zikaron, for a remembrance. They would be the ones to contribute the stones on behalf of the tribes which they represented. The Midrash…

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ויאמר משה אל בני ישראל ראו כי קרא ד' בשם בצלאל בן אורי בן חור למטה יהודה

Moshe said to Bnei Yisrael, “See, Hashem has proclaimed by name, Betzalel ben Uri ben Chur, of the tribe of Yehudah. (35:30)

The Midrash Tanchuma quotes this pasuk as the basis for making two points – one halachic, the other, hashkafic; both are ambiguous in terms of their relationship with the pasuk. First, the halachah: One may not wear a garment of kilayim/shatnez, a mixture of wool and linen, even if ninety-nine garments separate him from the forbidden garment. As long as the shatnez is on his body, it does not matter how much space interposes between himself and the garment. The halachah is understandable, but what does it have to do with the pasuk? Second, the Midrash states that when a…

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