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Rabbi A. Leib Scheinbaum
Hebrew Academy of Cleveland

Parshas Vakhel-Pikudei

These are the things that Hashem has commanded, to do them...on six days, work may be done, but the seventh day shall be holy. (35:1,2)

The Torah introduces the laws regarding the building of the Mishkan with an admonition to observe Shabbos. Rashi notes the juxtaposition of these laws and infers that building the Mishkan does not override the observance of Shabbos. Abarbanel explains that since building the Mishkan is a symbol of the strong bond that exists between Hashem and Klal Yisrael, one might think that it should take precedence over everything, even Shabbos. After all, action is a positive expression of our love and commitment to Hashem. Should it not have preeminence over the observance of Shabbos, which represents a cessation from action? Specifically, in response to this line of thinking, the Torah emphasizes the laws of Shabbos in connection with the construction of the Mishkan, in order to teach us that Shabbos takes precedence over the building of the Mishkan.

Horav Eli Munk, zl, gives two reasons for the predominance of Shabbos over the building of the Mishkan. Firstly, the Mishkan and its successor, the Bais Hamikdash, would one day disappear. Shabbos, on the other hand, is a mitzvah which was to last forever. Its observance would ensure that the loss of the Mishkan and the Bais Hamikdash would not affect Klal Yisrael’s relationship with Hashem. Structures are temporary; mitzvos are eternal. To paraphrase Horav Munk, "More than the Jews have kept Shabbos, Shabbos has kept the Jews." We must realize that non-observance of this critical mitzvah can evoke grave consequences in our relationship with Hashem.

A second reason for the prioritization of Shabbos over the Mishkan is based on a comparison between the concepts of time and space. Hashem sanctified the seventh day of Creation, making Shabbos the symbol of holiness in the dimension of time. In a similar manner, the Mishkan serves as the representative of holiness for the dimension of space. Kedushas ha’zman, sanctification of time, takes precedence over kedushas ha’makom, sanctification of place, precisely because Hashem initiated the concept of time after the seventh day. Since man fashioned the Mishkan, however, it demonstrates man’s ability to create holy places which Hashem consecrates.

The holiness of time is inherent in Creation, while the consecration of space is not. Man can attain perfection within the dimension of time by using the hours and minutes that are allotted to him for spiritual purposes. Such opportunity does not exist in the spatial dimension. Holiness is not increased by vanquishing space or increasing one’s possessions in quantity or quality. Our function as Jews does not depend on certain fixed points on earth, but rather in the manner in which we serve Hashem during the specific times that have been established for us. The dimension of space has the flexibility to allow changes to take place. Time does not have this characteristic. It is eternally fixed. We infer from the prohibition against desecrating Shabbos for the sake of building the Mishkan that the sanctity of time has greater significance than the sanctity of space.

Moshe assembled the entire assembly of the Bnei Yisrael. (35:1)

Moshe Rabbeinu gathered together the entire nation for the specific purpose of instructing them regarding the building of the Mishkan. Horav Baruch Sorotzkin, zl, observes that the power of certain mitzvos is catalyzed by their acceptance and performance by the tzibbur, entire community. There are other mitzvos that attain validity even if only one person observes and fulfills them. The mitzvah of building the Mishkan, the place where the Shechinah will repose, the source of Klal Yisrael's kedushah and taharah, holiness and purity, is one that must involve the entire Jewish People. No individual, regardless of his ability to achieve even the loftiest degree of sanctity, can alone create a place of hashroas ha’Shechinah, a place in which the Shechinah rests. It must be a communal endeavor in which every individual takes part, each adding his own component of kedushah.

Horav Sorotzkin supplements this with the notion that in order for all of Klal Yisrael to receive spiritual influence from the Mishkan, each individual must sense that he has a share in it. He must believe that he is one of its builders and that he is as much a participant in the building of the Mishkan as is everybody else. Hence, even the poorest Jew was instructed to contribute towards the building of the Mishkan. This act engendered within him the feeling that the Mishkan was the source of Divine light for all people.

Every man and woman whose heart motivated them to bring for any of the work...the Bnei Yisrael brought a free-willed offering to Hashem. (35:29)

If we read the text carefully, we note a redundancy. If "every man and woman" contributed towards the Mishkan, why is it necessary to reiterate that "Bnei Yisrael brought a free-willed offering"? Are not the "men and women" included in "Bnei Yisrael"? Horav Mordechai Rogov, zl, observes that many individuals who support Torah institutions and sustain those in need have themselves been educated in Torah institutions which stress the value of tzedakah. People contribute to those organizations with which they identify. When they see the importance of an institution or an endeavor, they support it. One who has been the recipient of a Torah education or has been sensitized to the importance of supporting Torah-oriented endeavors, will do so--because of the education he has received. Consequently, those who support a Torah institution are actually accomplishing two things. First, they are credited for sustaining the institution. Second, they are the catalysts for the students who will one day become themselves Torah supporters as a result of the education that they have received. The philanthropist is a link in the chain of Torah support. Through his contribution, he helps create the next generation of Torah supporters.

This is the hidden message of the pasuk. The contribution of the "men and women" who supported the Mishkan was not motivated by a sudden decision. Who was responsible for engendering the positive feeling for Torah support that brought out these "men and women"? Who motivated them to rise to the occasion and support the Mishkan? The members of "Bnei Yisrael" who had previously contributed catalyzed the next generation's outpouring of support. We must remember that when we support a Torah institution, we are preparing the future generation of Jews who will maintain the legacy of Torah.


1. When did Moshe assemble the Bnei Yisrael to instruct them concerning the building of the Mishkan?

2. What were the Bigdei Srad used for?

3. What was the Hashem's critique of the Nesiim?

4. What did the Nesiim contribute towards the Mishkan?

5. Which one of the Klei Hamishkan was made only of donations received from the women?


1. The day after Yom Kippur, when Moshe returned with the second set of Luchos.

2. They were used to cover the Klei Hamishkan when Bnei Yisrael was traveling.

3. They waited too long to contribute towards the Mishkan. They said they would give whatever would be needed after the rest of the people gave. They did not expect such an outpouring of donations.

4. Avnei Shoham.

5. The Kiyor was made of the women’s mirrors, which they used in Egypt to beautify themselves for their husbands.


These are the reckonings of the Mishkan, the Mishkan of Testimony, which were reckoned at Moshe’s behest. (38:21)

Sforno cites various differences that distinguished the Mishkan from its two successors, the Batei Mikdash. He posits that these differences ensured the Mishkan’s eternal viability, providing that it would never fall into the hands of enemies and be destroyed. First, the Mishkan contained the two Luchos: Second, it was initiated through Moshe Rabbeinu; Third, the avodah, service, was carried out through Isamar Hakohen and the Leviim. Fourth, the fact that Betzalel was the architect and builder of the Mishkan helped to guarantee its everlasting nature. Indeed, all those who occupied themselves with the building of the Mishkan were men of stature, integrity, and piety. In contrast, the Batei Mikdash were constructed by workmen of various nations. In many cases they did not possess the other attributes that gave the Mishkan its unique distinction.

We can learn a compelling lesson from Sforno’s words. The two Batei Mikdash together functioned for a total of eight hundred and thirty years. During this time undoubtedly millions of korbanos were offered, and the Kohanim and Leviim served under the guidance of a righteous Kohen Gadol. They still, however, did not achieve the level of sanctity that was present in the Mishkan. The Batei Mikdash could not compete with some of the traits of the Mishkan. From the very onset the Mishkan was built with kedushah and taharah, holiness and purity, by individuals invested with these same virtues. Horav Shmuel Truvitz, Shlita, emphasizes that the hachanah, preparatory stages, were performed with incredible kedushah and taharah. This reality distinguishes the Mishkan from the Batei Mikdash.

Horav Truvitz supplements this idea by citing the fact that the doors to the Bais Hamikdash were not destroyed. Rather, they sunk into the ground, because they were the work of David Ha'melech. Regardless of Klal Yisrael’s iniquities which caused the destruction of the Bais Hamikdash, the gates were not destroyed. They withstood the churban, because they were fashioned with holiness and purity. In the "end," it was the "beginning" that made the difference.

We can learn a more profound lesson. David Hamelech yearned to build the Bais Hamikdash. He was not destined, however, to be the one to build it. As a reason, Divrei Hayamim 1:28 cites the fact that he was man of war who had spilled blood. In his commentary to Sefer Bamidbar 16:21, the Ramban questions this. Did David do anything wrong? Did he kill anybody that was not deserving of death? All he did was to execute justice according to the laws of the Torah. He responds that the Bais Hamikdash is a place where rachamim, mercy, reigns. David, however acted in accordance with din, justice, which does not necessarily coincide with mercy. Although Bnei Yisrael actually built the Bais Hamikdash, David Ha'Melech provided the inspiration. Thus, the Bais Ha'Mikdash did not eminate the trait of rachamim.

We learn from here that the first inspiration sets the tone for the structure of an endeavor. Even if the actual construction has been performed in accordance with the appropriate ideals, if its original incentive was not consistent with the lofty ideals inherent in such an edifice, it will not endure.

We may add one postscript. Raising children and educating them in the Torah way is no different than constructing a Mishkan. In both cases, one desires to permeate an edifice/person with holiness. Success or failure is determined by the purity of one's kavanos, intentions. All too often we try to recapture our youth through the lives of our children. We attempt to guide them along the correct path of our choosing. Our concern is not for our children--but for ourselves. We should set realistic goals that are in accordance with the laws of the Torah. Regrettably, our approach may have a more secular-orientation than its Torah counterpart. We should learn from the Mishkan, which merited everlasting existence as a result of the proper intentions behind it. With the right intentions and many Tehillim, we will merit to raise a generation that will remain true to the Torah way.


1. Why is the Mishkan referred to as the Mishkan Ha’eidus, the Mishkan of Testimony?

2. What function did Isamar ben Aharon perform other than serving as Kohen?

3. What was Moshe’s role in the construction of the Mishkan?

4. What blessing did Moshe give those that were involved in constructing the Mishkan?

5. In what area of service were Moshe and Aharon considered to be equal on the eighth day after the Millluim?


1. The Mishkan attests to the fact that Hashem forgave Bnei Yisrael for the sin of the Golden Calf.

2. He was in charge of the Leviim, making sure that all performed their specific service.

3. He was the one that raised up the Mishkan, something no one else could do.

4. "May it be G-d’s will that the Shechinah rest upon Your handiwork." And the pasuk in Tehillim 90:17--"May the pleasantness of Hashem our G-d be upon us", etc.

5. Both washed equally from the Kiyor.


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