Parashas Vayakhel-Pekudei

This week’s double parashah describes the building and assembly of the Mishkan. The Torah relates that after the artisans finished all the Mishkan’s parts, they brought them all to Moshe. In Shemos Rabbah 52:1, the Midrash links this act with the following verse (Tehillim 45:15, homiletically rendered): “As a work of embroidery it was brought to the king, maidens following behind, its entourage taken along.” The Midrash says that “embroidery” refers to the Mishkan, which was sown with pictures, the “king” is Moshe, and the “maidens” and the “entourage” are the Jewish People. The Maggid expounds on this Midrash at length and very movingly. Here we present a portion of his commentary.
The Maggid, in his typical way, brings out the Midrash’s message with a parable. A baron once visited one of the towns in his province. Naturally, this occasion called for the townspeople to give gifts to the baron, but the common citizens were all too poor to present a fitting gift. The mayor was the only man in town with sufficient means. He obviously planned to give the baron a gift, but he wanted all the townspeople to have a hand in the act of giving. So he commissioned the townspeople to construct an exquisite ornamental vessel, made up of many different parts. He assigned each person the task of making a part of the vessel that involved the person’s particular craft. When all the parts were finished, the mayor had the vessel put together and presented it to the baron. The baron was delighted with the vessel, and asked to see the people who made it. So the mayor brought each person to the baron, one by one, and showed the baron which part the person had made.
The parallel is as follows. Moshe headed the project of building the Mishkan, and, with Betzalel acting as his agent, he assigned each Jew a part of the project. When the various parts were ready, the people brought all of them to Moshe, who then put the Mishkan together and presented it before Hashem. In doing so, he figuratively brought the entire Jewish People – all the “maidens,” the whole “entourage” – along with him to meet Hashem, for every Jew had a hand in the work. It was as if the likeness of every Jew was incorporated into the Mishkan, like a picture embroidered into a sheet of cloth.
David Zucker, Site Administrator

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