Parshas Pekudei – The Miraculous Construction of the Mishkan

By Avner Friedmann

For seven full days Moshe performed the inauguration service of the Mishkan, the portable temple that the Jews used during their forty year sojourn in the wilderness. On each of the seven days Moshe erected the Mishkan, performed the entire service himself and disassembled it when the service was done. On the eighth day, the first of Nisan, the Mishkan was erected permanently[1], as commanded by HaShem[2]: “On the day of the first new moon, on the first day of the month, you shall erect the Mishkan, the Tent of Meeting.”

Rashi tells us[3] that the workers, prior to the inauguration and after completing the work, could not erect the Mishkan themselves because of its massive weight. They brought it to Moshe, as the parasha states[4]: “All the work of the Mishkan… was completed… They brought the Mishkan to Moshe, the Tent and all its utensils.”

Since Moshe had not had a share in the actual work of the Mishkan, HaShem wanted him to have the honor of erecting it. Seeing how heavy it was, he asked HaShem how it could possibly be done. HaShem told him to make try and the Mishkan would stand on its own. This is the reason the Torah expresses it in a passive manner stating, “The Mishkan was erected”[5], to imply that although Moshe attempted it, in reality the Mishkan stood up miraculously by itself.

The Holy Zohar[6] says that not only the completion, but every part of the construction of the Mishkan was done in a miraculous fashion. The workmen only initiated the tasks, but the task completed itself! The Divine Spirit which was to dwell in the Mishkan later entered the workmen and allowed them to perform the task properly. Even though this was the case, it was considered as if they performed the work themselves.

The Zohar continues by saying that this is the case in every holy task, such as building houses of prayer, writing Torah scrolls and books, and even writing commentaries on the Torah. The craftsman begins, then the Divine Spirit rests upon him, and the work is done and completed as if by itself. The Assistance given is in accordance with the specific holiness of each case.

Maor Einayim[7] says that it goes even further; he brings a verse to prove it[8]: “Kindness is Yours, O Lord, for you repay each man according to his deeds”. The word “according to his deeds” in Hebrew also means “as if he did it” (כמעשהו), meaning, HaShem in his great kindness gives us the reward as if we did the work, even though, in actuality, He Himself does everything. The same holds true when a person goes against the will of Hashem and transgresses, G-d forbid. In a sense, it is as if he forces Hashem to do something against His will and HaShem assists in his wrong doing.

It is not our strength, talent, or good virtues that count, but heavenly assistance (סיעתא דשמיא), as our sages taught us[9]: “Open for Me an opening the width of a needle and I will open for you an opening the size of a large hall “. All that is required of us is the initial effort (hishtadlut) and the trust that ultimately Hashem is in charge.

We need to realize that there is no thought, speech or action that we can make without assistance from above.  It all is a generous gift from Hashem. May we speedily have a full realization of this the true and complete redemption, through our righteous Moshiach.  Amen.

[1] Rashi, Nasso 7:1.

[2] Pekudei 40:2.

[3]  39:33 from Tanchuma 11.

[4] Pekudei 39:32-33.

[5] Pekudei 40:17.

[6] Pekudei 222b.

[7] Vaetchanan p. 340.

[8] Psalms 62:12.

[9]  Song of Songs Rabah 5,3.

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