Parashas Vayakhel-Pekudei

This week’s double parashah deals with the building of the Mishkan and the manufacture of the vessels and vestments associated with it. In concluding the account of this effort, the Torah relates (Shemos 39:43): “And Moshe saw the entire work, and, behold, they had done it [exactly] as Hashem had commanded – thus they had done. And Moshe blessed them.” The Midrash elaborates (Sifra, Shemini 15):
How did He bless them? He said: “May the Divine Presence settle upon the work of your hands.” … [As it is written (Tehillim 90:17, homiletically):] “May the sublimity of our Master, our God, come down upon us. May our handiwork establish this for us; may our handiwork establish it.”
In explaining this Midrash, the Maggid turns our attention to an earlier verse (Shemos 39:32): “All the work of the Mishkan, the Tent of Meeting, was completed, and the Children of Israel had done all that Hashem commanded Moshe, so did they do.” The Maggid notes that the Torah could have said that “the Children of Israel had done all that Hashem commanded,” or that “the Children of Israel had done all that Moshe ordered.” Why did Torah use the specific phrasing that it did – “the Children of Israel had done all that Hashem commanded Moshe”?
The Maggid explains as follows. When Hashem discussed the Mishkan with Moshe, He did not just list its specifications – He also pointed out the deep spiritual secrets behind them. Afterward, though, when Moshe conveyed Hashem’s instructions to Betzalel and his team of artisans, he presented only the specifications. Betzalel and his team, however, discerned the deep secrets as well, and carried out the work with this knowledge in mind. The Torah is alluding to this point when it reports that “the Children of Israel did all that Hashem commanded Moshe.” Moshe himself recognized that the work had been done with knowledge of the deep secrets behind it, and thus the Torah testifies: “And Moses saw the entire work, and, behold, they had done it [exactly] as Hashem had commanded.”
Now, when Hashem told Moshe to build the Mishkan, the angels protested (Tanchuma, Terumah 9): “Master of the Universe! Why are You leaving behind the heavenly realm and descending to the earthly realm? ‘O Hashem, our Master! How mighty is Your Name throughout the world, You Who has set Your glory within the heavens!’ (Tehillim 8:2). This is what upholds Your honor: to abide in the heavens.” The angels, the Maggid explains, understood that the practical mitzvos associated with the Mishkan’s daily operation related only to man, and not to them. But they argued that it was still more fitting for the Mishkan to be situated in heaven, among them, on the grounds that they appreciated the deep secrets behind it, while man lacked the capacity to grasp them. However, Betzalel and his team neutralized this argument when they built the Mishkan with the spiritual secrets in mind. Moshe recognized that the Jewish People had won out over the angels, and he therefore blessed them: “May the sublimity of our Master, our God, come down upon us. May our handiwork establish this for us; may our handiwork establish it.” Moshe was saying: in the merit of the lofty spiritual level we attained through the handiwork of building the Mishkan, may we have the privilege of having the Divine Presence come down upon us.
David Zucker, Site Administrator

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