Parshat Hashavua PIKUDEI
By: Rabbi Nissim Mordechai Makor
Pikudei in a nutshell: This week's portion, Pikudei, describes the manufacture of the vestments of the priests and high priests — which were already described in the portion of Tetzaveh, where G‑d instructs Moses how these garments are to be assembled. The Tabernacle is erected, and G‑d's presence dwells therein
The purpose of the Mishkan was intended to be a location where the Divine Presence rested and was more palpable than in any other place in the world. The very name Mishkan means “dwelling place,”, and indeed, in introducing the concept of the Mishkan, the Torah proclaims: In Shemos 25:8. The Shem Mishmuel teaches us that every aspect of the Mishkan contributed to this aim, the building itself and each vessel within it needed to be designed to receive and transmit the Divine Presence. This is not dissimilar to the relationship between the body and soul within each person. The body is a vehicle for the soul’s existence in this world; so too, were the details of the Mishkan the means by which God’s Presence could be perceived on earth.
The right of the Jewish Nation to benefit from this wonderful Mishkan was a great gift from God. For after the sine of the eigel [the golden calf], they were in a spiritually bereft state and hardly suited to such a tremendous manifestation of the Divine. However, God granted them the Mishkan, enabling them to perceive Him even while they were in a spiritually inferior situation. At this stage they had been spiritually animated enough to realize that they were dissatisfied with the mere hope that God would rest among them. Instead, they knew that their task in life to be, like the vessels in the Mishkan, vehicles for the Divine.
This was symbolized by the order of construction that we have mentioned. For the lower coverings were spread before the beams were put underneath to support them. This represents the people who, after the sin of the eigel, were given a Mishkan before they were really able to support the spiritual level it represented. Only after the curtains had been spread could the beams be put underneath. So, too, after the spiritual life provided by the construction of the Mishkan the people could support the level they had been granted by God.
The Likutey Halachat teaches us that the Mishkan [tabernacle] shares the same root as Shakhein [neighbor]. For the purpose of the Tabernacle, like the Temple that succeeded it, was to draw people together to serve Hashem.
The verse 38:21 tells us that the Mishkan is mentioned twice, because whether it is erected or destroyed, it always remains with us. The Tabernacle was dismantled every time the Israelites journeyed and rebuilt every time they encamped to reach us that it accompanies us always. The Jews were able to travel through the desert a place of serpents, poisonous snakes and scorpions, a place devoid of faith and serenity, a place filled remained with them. [Likutei Halachot].
Rashi, adds that the repetition of the word Mishkan [Tabernacle] alludes to the two Temples that were eventually destroyed. Mishkan connotes haMShakah (drawing close to Hashem). The Tabernacle radiated Godliness in the desert. The Temples illuminated holiness to the Diaspora. Nowadays, sanctity is drawn wherever people gather in synagogues. By building the Tabernacle in the desert, Moshe prepared for the eventuality that the Jews could invoke Godliness even in a place devoid of Godliness and be able to sanctify a synagogue.
The Talmud in Shabbos 73a tells us that thirty-Nine Acts of Labor were involved in building the Tabernacle. Whenever a person works for the sake of God, even if he is engaged in mundane tasks, his actions are considered to be analogous to building the Mishkan. Such activity is beneficial for everyone, because it draws down the “dew of blessing”, i.e. tal, has the numerical value of 39.
Conversely, if a person works solely for material benefit, his 39 acts correspond to the 39 lashes meted out by a Jewish court for certain offenses [Devorim 25:3] and to the 39 curses that Adam, Eve and the SNAKE incurred after Adam ate from the Tree of Knowledge. Therefore, the word Mishkan is mentioned twice in this verse, once representing the 39 acts when they are properly carried out and lead to blessing and the building of the Tabernacle, and once representing the Thirty-Nine acts where they are improperly carried out and lead to suffering and the destruction of the Mishkan. Likutei Moharan
The Ohr HaChaim teaches us that Moshe’s ability to erect the Tabernacle was not due to supernatural help but that his intellectual powers were equal to the challenge to put together and erect the Tabernacle. The Torah therefore adds in the next verse that Betzalel son of Uri made everything G’d had commanded Moshe to do. Our sages deduce from this verse that Betzalel even carried out details which Moshe had not told him about and that Moshe subsequently expressed his approval.
The Torah goes on to say that Betzalel’s assistant Oholiov also contributed to his knowledge, our sages in the above quoted Midrash Shemos Rabbah 52 stated that even all the combined wisdom of these two architects of the projects did not suffice to enable them to erect the Tabernacle. There really had been no need to tell us once more of Betzalel’s contribution to the project.
If the Torah nonetheless mentioned it again it may have been to exclude the assumption by the reader that in the end the Tabernacle was erected without supernatural assistance, Ice. to remind us that Moshe had a divine assist. Once the erection of the Tabernacle by Moshe is accepted as demonstrating divine assistance, his accounting may certainly be considered as approved by G-d.
R’ Moshe Feinstein zt’l comes to teach us some profound lessons that can be applied to every aspect of our lives at every moment of our existence. Just as the artisans had to account for their use of every ounce of material that was donated for the construction of the Mishkan and its furnishings, so also we must be able to give an accounting for all the bounty with which Hashem has blessed us with.
This includes our time. Do we devote the days and years Hashem allots us to Torah and mitzvos or do we, Heaven forbid, squander them on frivolities. This also pertains to our money and possessions. Not only will we asked whether we used them for tzedakah and other aspects of helping people, we will also be asked if we were careful to use them wisely and productively for these purposes.
We should not think that the resources Hashem gives us are ours to use as we desire. On the contrary, the Torah, gives detailed rules governing the use of property. To give but one example, it is forbidden to destroy even one penny unnecessarily. Moreover, when the institution of Yovel [Jubilee year] is in force, there are laws regulating the transfer of property, although a buyer and seller may both wish to do so, it is impossible to sell an inherited field in perpetuity, since the Torah states [Vayikra 25:23], for the land is Mine. Similarly, each of us will be called to account as to whether he has utilized all the abilities and talents Hashem granted him to fulfill Hashem’s will through Torah and mitzvos.
Yeshiva Pirchei Shoshanim