Yom Kippur just passed yesterday and Moshe Rabbeinu was successful in his plea to Hashem to forgive us for the terrible mistake we made by serving the Golden Calf- Eigel HaZahav. Moshe Rabbeinu gathers all of B'nei Yisroel to instruct them on the building of the Mishkan.
Q- Why does Moshe Rabbeinu have to assemble the people together for this?
A#1- The construction of the Mishkan was open for all to participate in. (Interesting to note, that only the children were not interrupted from learning Torah to build the Mikdash, since the world's existence relies on the Torah learned by children!)

A#2- B'nei Yisroel are one unit. We are many individuals who comprise that unit. The command of the Mishkan's construction (which will bring Hashem's presence in this world) is given when we realize that Hashem (who is the epitome of one-and no other besides Him) will not live amongst His nation if they aren't unified. Now we see that the Mishkan is given to a nation who is bound together as one solid rope, attached to Hashem.

Even though we pushed Hashem out of our lives (during that short time we foolishly thought that Eigel was the way to serve Hashem), Hashem accepted our T'shuvah and will return to us. Through the construction of the Mishkan, Hashem will have a place in the lower world (this world we live in) to live in. The Mishkan was the way we felt Hashem's 'Shechina' (Presence) with us. When we sanctify ourselves, we become a miniature Mishkan for Hashem to live in. Are our neshamot (souls) any less holy than the wood, copper, silver & gold used for the Mishkan? Hashem lives in every Jewish soul that is attached to Him.

When Rav Menachem Mendel from Kotzk (the Kotzker Rebbe) was a child, he was asked by his father's friend; "Menachem Mendel, where does G-d live?" The young child snapped back with the response; "Wherever you let Him!"
Hashem lives within the soul of everyone who lets Him in. We treat ourselves with respect since we know that our neshamot are part of Hashem. We dress respectfully, speak respectfully, act respectfully, and think of thought that will bring Hashem closer into our lives. Our lives are meaningful since we have an infinite amount of opportunities to bring G-dliness into our lives. We cry over the destruction of the Bait HaMikdash, yet we can be that structure who carries within, the presence of Hashem.

Moshe Rabbeinu introduces the construction of the Mishkan by telling us that we work for 6 days and on the Shabbos, we rest from that work. There were 39 creative actions done to build the Mishkan, its vessels and the clothes of the Kohanim. These are the 39 action which cannot be done on the holy Shabbos. Even an action that wasn't done for the Mishkan's construction, but the outcome of the action would be the same as one of those 39, is also prohibited.

For example;
For the purpose of making bread (for the 'Lechem HaPonim'), grain was planted. Not only is planting prohibited on Shabbos, but watering plants is also prohibited. Although planting & watering are different actions, their outcome is the same (causes growth).


(for the Lechem HaPonim)
  1. Plowing
  2. Planting
  3. Harvesting
  4. Selecting
  5. Grinding
  6. Kneading
  7. Lighting a fire
  8. Extinguishing fire
  9. Baking
  10. Gathering
  11. Threshing
  12. Winnowing
  13. Sifting
  1. Shearing wool
  2. Whitening/Cleaning
  3. Spinning thread
  4. Weaving
  5. Dying
  6. Sewing
  7. Tying
  8. Tearing
  9. Untying
  10. Combing wool
  11. Mounting threads on the loom
  12. Setting holes for thread
    to pass through
  13. Removing threads from loom
  1. Trapping
  2. Slaughtering
  3. Skinning
  4. Tanning
  5. Smoothing
  6. Tracing
  7. Cutting to size
  8. Writing
  9. Erasing
  10. Building
  11. Demolishing
  12. Striking the final blow
  1. Carrying from one domain to another
Is there any deeper connection between the Mishkan & Shabbos, to prohibit those actions needed to construct the Mishkan, on Shabbos?

As we learned, Hashem wanted a place in this world to house His presence. The universe would have been that place, had Adam & Chava not eaten from the Eitz HaDaat (tree of knowledge). After they did that Cheit (transgression), Hashem's presence was confined and reserved for the next world. The holy Shabbos is an opportunity to enter that world, for a delightful 24 hour period. The Mishkan is creating that home of Hashem in a specific space, as Shabbos is creating that home of Hashem in a specific time. The work done to create the Mishkan is for the purpose of creating a "Shabbos" in a specific location (the Mishkan). On Shabbos, we have our Mishkan. Those 39 creative actions for the construction of the Mishkan, have no place during the Shabbos.

The love that a Jew has towards Hashem, is expressed through the actions done for Him. Just as the love between people is expressed through actions done for the other person. Hashem wanted Moshe Rabbeinu to warn B'nei Yisroel to keep Shabbos since through their love for Hashem, as expressed through the building of the Mishkan, they might continue their work and disregard Shabbos.

The Torah warns us that a person who is warned by witnesses not to violate the Shabbos, but disregards the warning and publicly disgraces Hashem's Shabbos, can be put to death. This only held true when the Bait HaMikdash stood and we had a Sanhedrin.

The Torah singles out the prohibition of having a fire lit on Shabbos. What's different about this melachoh? Lighting a fire is the MELACHO which differentiates between the prohibitions on Shabbos & those on Yom Tov. All the melachot that are prohibited on Shabbos, are prohibited on Yom Tov, except for cooking (fire). We are permitted to cook food on Yom Tov using a fire that was lit beforehand. On Shabbos, we are allowed to leave a fire on and the food can be cooking throughout Shabbos (assuming it was partially cooked beforehand). There have been Jews throughout history who have rejected the 'Torah SheBa'al Peh' (Oral Torah) and took the law of 'not having fire on Shabbos' literally. They sat in darkness on Shabbos (symbolically, they were in darkness the rest of the days too) and didn't leave food on the fire to be warm. We want to show how vital the Torah SheBa'al Peh is, so we leave cholent on the fire to eat on Shabbos morning. We know that light is very important on Shabbos. The rabbis taught us to have the lights left on throughout the Shabbos. The lights that are lit for the holy Shabbos, are symbols of the harmony that must exist between husband and wife. On a simple level, we understand how a dark house can cause accidents. Accidents lead people to nervousness and anger.

The prohibition of having a fire in the home on Shabbos, can be understood figuratively. Fire represents anger. The Torah is warning us to avoid anger on Shabbos. If there have been any tension in relationships over the week, before Shabbos is the time to resolve it.

One of the great Chassidic rebbes was accustomed to asking forgiveness from his helpers around the house. He would then cry and beg forgiveness from his wife if he (G-d forbid) pained her in any way. When Shabbos entered, there was no trace of anger in his home.
Shabbos is when the family spends a lot of time together. There are lots of opportunities to become angry. Let's work on keeping our cool, during the warm Shabbos atmosphere. Moshe Rabbeinu offered the opportunity to contribute to the Mishkan's construction, to everyone. This communal effort rectified the communal effort made to create the Eigel HaZahav. The enthusiasm was so great, Moshe Rabbeinu had to send word to stop making more materials. Why didn't he simply tell them to stop bringing more materials? Moshe Rabbeinu was concerned for the people who already made items needed at one point for the Mishkan. Had he told them not to bring them, they would have felt bad that their work was for nothing. This way, whoever already made something, could bring it and everyone else knew not to start any new projects.
From Moshe Rabbeinu, we learn the importance of accepting the efforts of people even if the outcome of their efforts aren't needed. No person enjoys the feeling of having done something for no reason.
The Kovno Rav, Rav Yitzchok Elchonon Spector, was the Poseik HaDor (halachic authority of the generation) in the early 1900's. He was speaking with someone, when there was a knock on the door. A student came in to tell Rav Yitzchok Elchonon of the great news; An older man finally got engaged. The Rav was thrilled to hear the great news and thanked the boy who told him. A few minutes later, there was another knock on the door and someone else told the Rav the same news. The Rav was once again thrilled and thanked the news bearer. A few moments later, the same occurrence repeated itself. Finally, the man in Rav Spector's home asked the rave "Rebbe, the same news was told to you four times over, yet each time you heard it, you reacted as if it was the first time!?"

Rav Yitzchok Elchonon answered; "They come to tell me the news for they know I will be happy to hear it. This makes them happy so it's worth their efforts. If I don't act surprised to hear the news, their efforts would have been in vane. I would have deprived them of their joy."

It's really wild to imagine that the person in charge of the construction of the Mishkan was all of 13 years old. This special boy was B'tzalel, the son of Uri, who was the son of Chur. Hashem gave him the understanding of the secrets behind the vessels. Hey! Why do we need to know the name of his grandfather?

Chur was Miriam's son. He was the one (along with Aharon) who held up Moshe Rabbeinu's hands during the war with Amaleik. He also was the one who protested the making of the Eigel HaZahav. He was killed for his efforts. The Mishkan is going to bring the 'Shechina' (presence) of Hashem back to the nation, after it departed as a result of the Cheit HaEigel. Now the legacy of Chur lives on through his grandson, B'tzalel.

That which a person gives his life for, will be cherished by the person's descendants. Did B'tzalel do all the work? No! So why does he get the credit?
The person who really gives of himself for something, gets the credit for that thing.
© 1998 by R' Matis Friedman, H.A.F.T.R.
R' Matis Friedman's email address is shprophets@aol.com

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