Adar I 5757
The Torah does not instruct us with
its content alone. We often learn a great deal from what the Torah
"chooses" not to discuss or alternately from what the
Torah "deems" worthy of repeating. As such, the Torah's
unusually repetitive account, in Parshiyos VaYak'hel-Pekudei, of
the construction of the Mishkan (Tabernacle) and its vessels is
worthy of our attention.
After earlier receiving a highly detailed
commandment to construct the Mishkan and its vessels, Moshe transmits
this directive to the Jewish People. He specifies (and the Torah
records) all the requisite materials and all the intended products.
The Torah then provides a full listing of the materials actually
donated as well as an exhaustive description of the actual construction
of the end products. (By now, the Torah has mentioned every component
of the Mishkan from, the Ark and Altars to the screens and sockets,
at least three times!) Not yet done, the Torah proceeds to relate,
each time in full detail, how:
the people brought the finished
products to Moshe.
G-d instructed Moshe to assemble
the Mishkan and position its vessels.
Moshe followed His instructions.
The repetition, bordering on the extreme,
challenges the patience of even the most diligent of Torah students.
Moreover, it's unsettling. One can't help but feel that an important
message is being sent to us ... and we're missing it.
The question is really two-fold:
In a Torah that is known for its
word economy, what is so special about the Mishkan that it evokes
Given that the Mishkan is special,
what objective is the Torah achieving by way of all this repetition?
The Ramban adresses the first question
by drawing a parallel to a story found in Sefer B'reishis -- Eliezer
(servant of Avraham)'s search for a wife for Yitzchok. There the
Torah records not only the events that transpired but also Eliezer's
recounting of the same events to Rivkah's family. The Midrash there
illuminates: "More dear to G-d are the ordinary conversations
of the Forefather's servants than even the Torah expositions of
their descendants." So too, reasons the Ramban, by the work
of the Mishkan, which was itself "desirable" to G-d, is
an extended reckoning in order.
What makes the Mishkan so desirable?
The Mishkan was not just another building, nor was its construction
the mere assembly of inert, lifeless components. The Ramban in Parshas
Terumah writes that the Mishkan was an extension, or better yet,
a perpetuation of the giving of the Torah at Sinai. (ie. G-d's word
was transmitted through the Golden Cherubs in the Holy of Holies
much the same way as His word issued forth from the reddish-golden
flames at Sinai.) The Mishkan, thus, enabled an ongoing communicative
relationship between G-d and the Jewish People. In a sense, the
Mishkan is the Marriage that followed the Wedding at Sinai.
Certainly, such an idea should be
as dear to us as it is to G-d Himself. Moreover, just as a married
couple enjoys leafing through their own wedding album, time and
time again, might we not, as well, enjoy the Torah's extended narrative
of our own marriage with G-d?
We can now return to the second question: Given the special nature
of the Mishkan, what objective is the Torah achieving with all this
repetition? First of all, the actual repetition may, in fact, be
G-d's way of communicating to us how truly dear the Mishkan is.
Beyond that, though, the Torah is teaching us a valuable lesson.
Rav Dessler, in speaking about spiritual
growth, suggests that we use Jacob's Ladder as a model. Our efforts
at any one point in time need not be focused beyond getting to the
next highest rung. Only once we have ascended that rung is it advisable
to set our sights higher. It is noteworthy that Rav Dessler is speaking
of spiritual growth, which is, in essence, relating to G-d.
Perhaps this is why the Torah recorded
each and every phase of the Mishkan's construction in such detail.
Inasmuch as that the building of the Mishkan represents the forging
of our own relationship with G-d, we are being instructed to work
deliberately. "Move in small, well thought out, increments.
No skimping. Every single step closer to G-d is of inestimable worth."Hence,
by each and every phase of the Mishkan's construction, even the
finest of details may not be spared mention.
In summation, we need not approach
the Torah's lengthy account of the Mishkan with uneasiness. Let
us instead approach it as we would our own wedding/marriage album.
Also let us learn to appreciate and savor every small step we take
towards building a closer and more meaningful relationship with
Published and İMarch 13,1997
by the Chicago Community Kollel