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Taking Up the Challenge

By: Mrs Malka Hubscher

Parshat Pekudei is the culmination of the parshiyot dealing with the Mishkan. After months of collecting materials, organizing laborers, woodwork, sewing, weaving and creating the intricate vessels and clothing of the kohanim, the Mishkan is finally complete. Moshe and the people carefully put all the different parts in order and the Mishkan is standing and ready to be used.  They have followed the exact command of Hashem and through hard work and cooperation they have succeeded in constructing a place for Hashem to dwell.

It seems that immediately upon the completion of the physical building, Hashem’s glory fills the Mishkan as described in Shemot 40:34: Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle.”

There is a feeling of excitement, Hashem is pleased with their work and His glory is resting with the Jewish people, thus fulfilling His original charge in Parshat Teruma,  Shemot 25:8: “And let them make Me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among them (the Jewish people)”.

However the very next pasuk seems to damper the excitement of this glorious moment: “And Moses was not able to enter into the tent of meeting, because the cloud abode thereon, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle”.  Moshe was unable to enter the Mishkan since the Cloud of Glory, representing the presence of G-d, was so concentrated in the Sanctuary that Moshe was not able to enter. If Moshe himself was not able to enter then surely the kohanim were not able to enter as well. What good is the Mishkan and all their hard work if man cannot enter to perform the services?!

Rashi suggests that the status quo was that G-d’s glory filled the space of the Mishkan unless Moshe was called and only then did the cloud of glory lift allowing Moshe to enter and speak to G-d.

The Rashbam offers another suggestion; the cloud representing the glory of Hashem, only filled the Mishkan temporarily at that moment of the establishment and after that point it was found on top of the aron in the holy of holies. The Rashbam explains the glory filling the Mishkan on that very first day was an expression of the love (chibba) G-d felt towards the Jewish people at that moment.

Hashem put forth a challenge to the people: Build a Mishkan. In order to accomplish this they had to learn to work together while simultaneously recognizing the unique talents and contributions of each individual. Up until this point, the nation had been the recipients of G-d’s kindness. He saved them from the oppression in Egypt through great miracles and wonders, provided them food and water through daily miracles, and protected them from all enemies and dangers in the desert. The Mishkan was the first time where the people as a nation came together and made something for Hashem himself. The Mishkan was not merely a place in which to do the avodah, rather it represented a new stage in the relationship between Hashem and the people. They came together donating their time, money and talent to create something for the glorification of G-d’s name. They no longer need to wait passively for Hashem to save them but they can actively reach out, and seek out a closeness with Hashem. Perhaps this is the chibba of the Rashbam. The pride and love Hashem felt for His people who are now actively pursuing a closeness with Him by building the Mishkan where He can dwell amongst them. 

Shabbat Shalom.




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