The parsha begins with the words “Eileh Pekuday HaMishkon Mishkon Ha'adus.” The word “Ha'adus” equals 479, the amount of years the Mishkon stood. The word “Mishkon” equals 410, the amount of years the first Beis Hamikdosh stood. The word "Hamishkon" equals 415 plus the five letters in the word Hamishkon equals 420 the amount of years the second Beis Hamikdosh stood. The question is why do we need to add the five letters to complete the total? The reason is because the second Beis Hamikdosh was missing five miracles that the first Beis Hamikdosh had. They were the fire of the Mizbe'ach, the Luchos, the Urim Vetumim, the Choshen and the Shechina.
The question remains that if the first Beis Hamikdosh stood for 410 years, why is it only hinted after the second Beis Hamikdosh? The Satmar Rebbe says the following. The entire reason for the accounting done in this weeks Parsha is because of the slight doubt that Yisrael had regarding the donations given to Moshe. This was the root of the future Sinas Chinom that destroyed the second Beis Hamikdosh. Therefore perhaps here the Torah hints at the years of the second temple first.
(38:22) "U'Betzalel Ben Uri Ben Chur Lemateh Yehudah Asah es Kol Asher Tzivah Hashem es Moshe-Betzalel the son Uri the son of Chur did everything that Hashem commanded Moshe." Why does the Torah say he did everything that Hashem commanded Moshe? It should have said he did everything Moshe told him to do? But Rashi explains that when Moshe told Betzalel the order of construction, he did it in reverse. First build the furnishings and then the building. However Betzalel understood Hashem's real intentions and Moshe agreed that he was correct. It thus comes out that Bezalel did everything that Hashem commanded Moshe even when Moshe didn’t give it over. The question thus becomes how could Moshe get it wrong? The Meam Loez answers that Moshe was focusing on the order of importance as we see from who carried the various parts. The Aron which housed the Luchos was the most valuable and thus carried by the most honored family of the Levites. Moshe looked at the bigger picture, the purpose of all these various parts which was to create a place for the divine spirit to dwell. That was his focus. But the order of their construction he did not give over to Betzalel.
(38:24) “Kol H’Zahav H’asuy L’Malacha B’Kol Meleches Hakodesh-All of the gold that was used for the Holy work.” In this weeks parsha we find Moshe giving an account of all the donations given towards the Mishkon. It says how much was given and then goes into detail as to how it was all used. How much silver was used for sockets and how much for all the details. But we don't find an account in detail pertaining to the gold? By all the other donations the details are given except the gold? It might be possible to answer based on a Midrash that said the Ark that held the luchos was covered with gold. It had the Cheruvim on top of it that was made of solid gold yet it says when it was carried it was weightless. I once heard from R.Shlomo Freifeld based on a Midrash, that gold was created in this world exclusively for the Beis Hamikdosh. The epitome of the material world is gold, it being the most sought after of physical things. All currencies are based on gold. So when it has come to its ultimate state, to its purpose for being created, it becomes divested from its physical ties and becomes kodesh and therefore weightless. The entire nature of gold’s material value is its weight. By making it kodesh it now transcends any physical connection. It can no longer ever be used for something mundane. This could be why an accounting was given for the donation of gold., but once it was used there could no longer be an accounting.(Nireh Li)
The words "Kol H’Zahav H’asuy L’Malacha B’Kol Meleches Hakodesh" can be translated as Kol H'zahav All of the gold- H'asuy-That was ever created L'Malacha B'Kol Meleches Hakodesh was to be used for Kodesh.
Why is gold the only material that has such a lofty purpose? Perhaps we can say that it is because of gold’s unique ability to never become lost. Through constant refining gold can be extracted from any material it was mixed with. It can always be refined, recovered. This is likened to Klal Yisroel. This was the purpose of the sanctuary, to always be able to retrieve the lost souls of Israel scattered throughout the nations of the world.
The Meam Loez has a different answer. He says that there wasn't enough gold donated to the Mishkon to make all of the vessels. They only had enough for the Aron that held the Luchos and the cover with the Cheruvim. This alone was of tremendous weight. But there was a miracle regarding the gold. No matter how much they took out there was always enough. This he says is why there was no accounting given of the gold.
The parsha begins with the word “Ayleh” these. We learned that whenever it says "Ve-ayleh " it is connecting the following to the previous. The question is why does it not use the word "Ve-ayleh" since the previous parsha is on the same subject? Perhaps since the previous parsha was dealing with all of the items that were donated for the Mishkon, which was a kapora for the chet of the Eigel, now in order to make a separation the “vav” is omitted. This means to say that the chet of the Eigel is forgiven now we must move on.
Also the word "Ayleh" is a Remez to the "Ayleh" used by the Chet of the Eigel when the eruv rav showed them the zodiac signs and said these (Ayleh) are your Gods.
The Zohar has a different approach. He makes the connection between the word Pekude and the words Pokod Pokadity the phrase that Moshe used at the start of his mission and which was the sign that was handed down from generation to generation that their would be a savior someday. Another meaning for the word Pokod counting is also to visit.
Moshe announced to Benei Yisroel that after they would be taken out of Egypt Hashem would visit i.e.. dwell amongst them. Now at the end of Sefer Shemos the Torah shows how this promise was fulfilled through the building of the Mishkon. So now the words read Ayleh Pekude Hamishkon Mishkon Ha'Adus -This is the accounting of the Mishkon, The Mishkon of the testimony (of Hashem's love for his people) Asher Pokod al-pi Moshe-The visit that came about through the words of Moshe. In other words through the Tefilos of Moshe the Jews were forgiven the sin of the Eigel and now this can be seen by the fact that the Shechina would once again dwell in their midst.
The parsha deals with the accounting of the Mishkon. This was in itself the Aidus that the chet of the Eigel was forgiven. We see that when a person overeats he is not taking into account the amount of food he is eating. But if he would become sick, the medicine taken would be very much measured. The same is here by the Mishkon which was the cure for the chet of the Eigel. It was measured and accounted for totally thereby testifying to the remedy of their sin.
(39:32) “VaTeichel Kol-Avodas Mishkon Ohel Moed Vayasu Benei Yisroel K’Kol Asher Tzivo Hashem es Moshe Kain Asu- All of the work of the Mishkon, the Tent of Meeing was completed, and the children of Israel had done like everything that Hashem commanded Moshe, so they did. Why does the Torah use the word “KiKol”- like everything? In addition the verse seems out of order? First it should say Benei Yisroel had done everything Hashem commanded and then say all of the work was completed? Perhaps to answer both questions we must take note of the word “VaTeichal- the work was completed.” If the Torah had said “They completed all of the work” it would indicate that the craftsman had done all of the work. However, when the Torah says “the work was completed” it indicates that the work was completed on its own.
It is important to realize that without Hashem’s help they could not have made the Mishkon themselves. Human intellect could not grasp the complexity of the various types of work needed to create a microcosm of the universe. A place for Hashem’s Shechina to dwell. However when the craftsmen took the work in their hands and began they were helped from on high and the work was completed by itself. This explains the order of this verse as well as the use of the word “KiKol”. The work was completed without them but they began the process “KiKol” Like all that Hashem commanded Moshe. The same is true of every sacred deed man undertakes. It may seem very difficult and a person may say “How can I perform such a sacred deed? It’s not humanly possible.” But if we do it for the sake of Heaven, we will receive help from on high. And even though a person may have received a large amount of Divine help, he is still given credit as if he himself had done it.
(39:33) They brought the Mishkon to Moshe to erect for it was impossible for anyone to erect it. Moshe said to Hashem "how can I lift it myself?" Hashem told him to place his hands on the walls and begin to lift it and it will erect itself. That was good for the first time that the Mishkon was erected. What about the other 42 times the entire nation traveled and the Mishkon was assembled and disassembled? Who did it then? There is a story about the Beis Yosef who was struggling with a question on a Tosefes for three days. One night in a dream he was given the answer. When he awoke the next morning he looked at the Tosfes and the answer he dreamed made sense. Later when he went to shul the Rov of the shul was giving a shiur on that Gemorra. He asked the same question on the Tosfes and gave the same answer that the Beis Yosef dreamed. The Beis Yosef was distraught. Here was a simple Rov who apparently had easily come across the answer that had eluded the Beis Yosef for three days! That night he had another dream in which he was told that really it was because of his struggle that the answer came down to this world. Once it was here it was here for everyone. The same is true of the erecting of the Mishkon. Once it was done by Moshe it was no longer that difficult for the rest of Yisroel to accomplish. We see from this a tremendous lesson. That whenever a person attempts to do a difficult command of Hashem he must begin and then Hashem provides the help needed to accomplish even the impossible.
The Oznayim L'Torah writes since the tabernacle was like the creation of heaven and earth, Hashem insisted that one man Moshe, the man of God erect it himself, just as creation was brought about solely by Hashem. The words Vayichal Moshe es Ha'melocha are equal tothe word Bereishis. (913)
Rashi says the reason the job of erecting the Mishkon was given to Moshe is because he didn't have a part in the building of the various parts of the Mishkon. But we learned that Moshe made the Menorah? And if you want to say that the Menorah made itself as we have learned Moshe could not understand how to make it until Hashem said throw the gold into the fire and the Menorah will come out. Moshe had to initiate the first act of throwing in the gold and Hashem would do the rest. The same can be said by the erecting of the Mishkon. Because it says that no one was able to erect it since it was so heavy. Hashem told Moshe to place his hands on the walls and they will erect themselves. So why does Rashi say Moshe had no part in the making of the Mishkon? It could be that they are two separate things. One is the making of the Mishkon the other is the making of the vessels. So it would come out that both things are credited to Moshe even though they are both things that he really was unable to do without the help of Hashem.
In this weeks parsha the phrase "as Hashem commanded" appears eighteen times. This corresponds to the 18 brachos of Shimoneh Esrei. This is to teach us that, even though we no longer have the Mishkon, by saying Shimoneh Esrei it is as if we build our own Mishkon.
When Moshe told Betzalel to build the Mishkon he said first build the utensils then the structure. Betzalel answered first we build the house then the furniture. To which Moshe replied "were you walking in the shadow of Hashem?" Thereby saying you are right, first the house then the furniture. (Talmud - Brachot 55a)
How can it be that Moshe was wrong? How could he not give over the directions he heard from Hashem precisely the way Hashem said them? To understand this difficult piece of Talmud requires an appreciation of the Mishkan and its vessels. That in turn depends on understanding the relationship of our bodies to our souls. We live in a physical world, and our soul is confined in a physical body. For that reason, says Sefer Hachinuch, that which we experience physically makes a stronger impression on us and, in turn, motivates our hearts and souls. Thus, for instance, the eating and drinking on Yom Tov is designed to bring out the spiritual joy of our souls. The performance of actions associated with happiness, and not the mental contemplation of happiness, engenders that emotional state. The proper external actions are, according to Sefer Hachinuch, the means by which one reaches the proper inner intention. For that reason, one must occupy himself in the study of Torah - even not for its own sake, for learning will eventually bring him to Torah for its own sake. The Mishkan similarly was a physical environment which exercised the most profound effect on all who beheld it. The physical impression it created was transmuted into a powerful inner feeling.
Physical actions have another purpose beyond arousing the proper inner attachment to Hashem. Our task in this world is to place our spiritual beings in control of our physical beings. When we act in conformity with our deepest spiritual perceptions, we are actualizing our inner potential. The Ramban explains (Genesis 22:1) that the essence of the tests to which Hashem subjects tzaddikim is that it allows them to realize their spiritual potential in action. Actions performed with the proper intention infuse all realms of the world with spiritual power. This same dynamic relation between external action and inner intent is symbolized by the Mishkan itself. Prior to the sin of the Golden Calf, the Mishkan was not needed for Hashem's presence to devolve upon the Jewish people. With the sin of the Golden Calf, however, the people showed that they needed a physical entity upon which to focus their attention in order to experience Hashem's presence. The Mishkan served this need, and hence only there could Hashem's Presence be felt in its full intensity.
The commentary Meshech Chochma notes that in Parshas Ki Sisa the discussion of Shabbos follows the discussion of the Mishkan. In Parshas Vayakhel, the order is reversed. Shabbos strengthens our belief in Hashem as the Creator of the Universe. As originally conceived prior to the sin of the Golden Calf, the Mishkan was meant to give external expression to that belief in Hashem. But it was not needed to engender that belief, since Hashem's presence already dwelt on each Jew wherever he was. Since the Mishkan was only to enhance our belief in the same way that Shabbos does, there would at that time have been no conflict between the activities of the Mishkan and Shabbos. Hence, in Parshas Ki Sisa, prior to the sin, the Mishkan precedes Shabbos. After the sin of the Golden Calf however, the Mishkan was needed for Hashem's presence to rest on the Jewish People. Construction of the Mishkan was no longer an expression of Divine service, but a precondition for that service. As such, the activities of the Mishkan and attendant construction work could no longer be permitted on Shabbos. This is hinted to in the fact that in Parshas Vayakhel, after the Sin of the Golden Calf, the discussion of Shabbos precedes that of the Mishkan, from which we learn that the activities of the Mishkan are prohibited on Shabbos. Moshe was first told of the Mishkan before the sin of the Golden Calf. At that time, the structure of the Mishkan itself was of secondary importance, and the vessels through which man would actualize his feelings for God were the principal aspect of the Mishkan. Therefore, Moshe mentioned the vessels first. The Jews were then far above the natural order of the world in which the house precedes the vessels. They needed no majestic structure to house the holiness of Hashem's Presence. Betzalel, however, received the command to build the Mishkan after the sin of the Golden Calf. He realized that Hashem's intention now was to create an environment to inspire inner spiritual feelings which would be actualized through the vessels. Betzalel understood what Moshe did not - that Hashem's original command was specific in its order because Hashem knew that the Jewish people would sin and require the Mishkan in order to experience His Presence. The Maharal explains that the difference between Moshe's view and that of Betzalel was that Moshe looked at the Mishkon as it was in its original state before the chet, when the inner core was more powerful than the outer influence. Betzalel recognized that after the chet the inner core had to be protected from the outside influences. Moshe told Betzalel the order in an unclear manner to show that Betzalel had ruach hakodesh and that he would not only do everything Moshe told him, but also the things that Moshe didn't tell him as well.
There seems to be a correlation between the phrases in this week’s parsha and the phrases that we find in Bereishis by the creation of the world. It says that they brought all of the various parts of the Mishkon to Moshe and then it says (39:43) "Vayar Moshe es Kol-Hamilacha-Vayvorech Osum Moshe- Moshe saw all of the work and Moshe blessed them." A similar phrase is found after the completion of Ma'aseh Bereshis where we find that Hashem saw all of his creations and blessed them. Also why is it that Moshe was required to assemble and disassemble the Mishkon for seven days? Even on Shabbos? Perhaps we can say that just like the Mishkon was a microcosm of a perfect world, in its creation there was also the parallel seven days. The Shem Meshmuel writes that Moshe attained the highest level that a human can attain when he was willing to sacrifice himself for Benei Yisroel so they would be forgiven the Chet of the Eigel. We see that after this incident the Torah relates how his face, which reveals the inside of a person, changed so much so that it became necessary for him to wear a mask. He was on a level that no man had ever achieved. Now at the end of this Sefer we see the climax of human achievement. Man's mission in this world is to emulate his creator. The completion of the Mishkon was probably the most phenomenal occurrence that mankind had ever achieved. It was through the handiwork of man that a world was created, a world where the glory of Hashem descended in full sight of every Jewish man woman and child. It was through their donations that this miracle happened physically and spiritually, they were able to create a place for the Shechinah to dwell.