The Temple Institute: Temple Talk: I Adar 25, 5771/March 1, 2011

"These are the accounts of the Tabernacle"
(Exodus 38:21)

The Torah reading of Pekudei, literally "accounts" starts off mundanely enough. The first forty two verses are no more than a long list of all the details of the Tabernacle, its vessels, and the priestly raiments. We've read all this before, earlier in Exodus, so we can surely be excused for wondering where all this is leading to. But then, all of a sudden, from this earthly inventory bursts forth a beauty of cosmic proportion: "Now they brought the Tabernacle (Mishkan) to Moses, the tent and all its furnishings... Moses saw the entire work, and lo! they had done it - as HaShem had commanded, so had they done. So Moses blessed them." (ibid 39:33,43) These two verses are nothing less than references and recollections and reflections and refractions of the original account of creation that we read all the way back in the book of Genesis.

"Now they brought the Mishkan to Moses, the tent and all its furnishings... " (ibid 39:33) recalls how "G-d formed from the earth every beast of the field and every fowl of the heavens, and He brought them to man to see what he would call it, and whatever the man called each living thing, that was its name." (Genesis 2:19) That is, G-d brought to man all He had created in order that man would invest G-d's creation with meaning and purpose, and that man would understand from this accounting just what his own purpose was to be in the great G-dly scheme of things. Here too, the people of Israel bring before Moses all these sundry man-made creations of wood and animal skins, of stones and fabrics and precious metals, for Moses to behold and to determine its meaning and purpose. And Moses, rising to the occasion, sees the fullness of Israel's efforts, and "Moses saw the entire work, and lo! they had done it - as HaShem had commanded, so had they done. So Moses blessed them." (ibid 39:43)

Just as Adam, the first man understood from the parade of beasts that G-d brought before him that only he was missing a mate and that it was not good to be alone, so too, the Tabernacle, in all its various components has been brought before Moses. And the conclusion is not simply that man and G-d need not be alone, but that the Tabernacle is here to serve as the means by which G-d's presence and man's service to G-d can be united and made manifest here on this earth.

And from here we can understand that just as G-d created a Garden of Eden and placed man within it in order to "work it and to guard it" (Genesis 2:15) so too G-d has commanded Israel to construct the Tabernacle, and appoint the Kohen Gadol, the High Priest, and place him within the Holy Tabernacle, so that Israel can work, (the Hebrew avodah meaning both "to work" in the profane sense, and to perform the Divine service in the Tabernacle), serving G-d from this place of purity and life.

And in both instances, that of Adam in the Garden of Eden, (who stumbled), and Israel in the Tabernacle, (subsequently, the Holy Temple), G-d, after completing the work of creation, directs, through His word, what amounts to post-creation fine-spiritual tuning, literally, taking the great cosmic symphony of creation, and perfecting it, achieving through the Divine service in the Holy Temple, an overwhelmingly beautiful harmony of purpose and aspiration for all mankind.

We also learn from Genesis, that " ... no tree of the field was yet on the earth, neither did any herb of the field yet grow, because HaShem G-d had not brought rain upon the earth, and there was no man to work the soil." (ibid 2:5) Yes, before the advent of the Tabernacle and the Divine service, the world had yet to fully blossom, man had yet to fully reach his potential. Little wonder, then, that G-d commanded Moses, saying, "On the day of the first month, on the first of the month, you shall set up the Mishkan of the Tent of Meeting." (Exodus 40:1) This, of course, is the month of Nisan, the month of the exodus from Egypt, the month which heralds the onset of spring: "The blossoms have appeared in the land, the time of singing has arrived, and the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land." (Song of Songs 2:12) Creation will hit it's stride, the world will truly come alive when Israel again establishes G-d's Sanctuary. The time of singing, the transcendent song of the Levites will once again arrive, and the voice of Torah will come forth from Zion, and once again be heard throughout the land. It begins with an accounting, a taking stock and appreciation of every detail of G-d's creation and comes to a crescendo with the work of the Tabernacle, the establishment of G-d's Holy Temple!

Tune in to this week's TEMPLE TALK as Rabbi Chaim Richman and Yitzchak Reuven discuss the Tabernacle & the Half-Shekel, and wax lyrical concerning the completion of the Mishkan in the desert, connecting the dots and examining the Torah portion of Pekudei, only to find to that it contains nothing new... but at the same time, it's brand new! It's that 'ol feeling of deja vu - we've read all this before. And we've built a house for the Creator before! It's not rocket science! We did it once, we did it twice - we can do it again. Really, why wait any longer for the world to begin?

Complete Show