SALT - Wednesday, II Rosh Chodesh, 1 Adar 5779 - February 6, 2019

  • Rav David Silverberg
            In introducing the command to construct a Mishkan, God tells Moshe that the Sanctuary and its appurtenances should be built in strict in accordance with His instructions, and He then concludes, “ve-khein ta’asu” – “and so shall you do” (25:9).  Rashi comments that this seemingly redundant addition was inserted to indicate that the details regarding the Mishkan are relevant for all time.  If one of the furnishings of the Mishkan was lost, and when the permanent Beit Ha-mikdash would be built with new furnishings, the same specifications must be followed.
            The Ramban disputes Rashi’s reading of the phrase “ve-khein ta’asu,” noting that the utensils built by King Shlomo when the Beit Ha-mikdash was constructed had different dimensions than those in the Mishkan, thus proving that the detailed instructions that applied to the Mishkan were not relevant in future generations.  According to the Ramban, the phrase “ve-khein ta’asu” was added for the purpose of “chizuk ve-zeiruz” – emphasis and “spurring,” to impress upon Benei Yisrael the importance of this project and to urge them to proceed quickly and diligently.
            Rav Yerachmiel Yisrael Yitzchak of Alexander, in Yismach Yisrael, suggests a deeper insight into this phrase, based on Rashi’s comment that it was added to apply the command of the Mishkan to future generations.  Later in Parashat Teruma (25:31), Rashi writes (based on the Midrash Tanchuma, Parashat Behaalotekha) that Moshe had difficulty understanding how to construct the menorah in the Mishkan.  As he was unable to grasp the proper way to build this structure, God told Moshe to simply throw the block of gold into fire, and the menorah would miraculously be formed.  This account is one example of the supernatural assistance that was required for the Mishkan to be properly constructed.  (Another example is found in Rashi’s comments later in Sefer Shemot (39:33), where he writes that the large wooden planks could not have been lifted and put into place without God’s miraculous intervention.)  On this basis, the Yismach Yisrael suggests that the phrase “ve-khein ta’asu,” which is understood as establishing the eternal relevance of the command of the Mishkan, refers to the need for God’s assistance in building His Sanctuary.  Just as the Mishkan in the wilderness could not have been built without God’s help, similarly, any “Sanctuary” we ever seek to build – either literal or figurative – requires God’s assistance.
            The Yismach Yisrael explains that at times people feel despair as they face spiritual challenges, seeing themselves as unable to build a Mishkan, to live a life of sanctity as the Torah demands.  The command of “ve-khein ta’asu” serves to remind us that even at the feet of Mount Sinai, under the leadership of Moshe Rabbeinu, Benei Yisrael were unable to build the Mishkan on their own, without God’s help.  Bringing sanctity into one’s life is a challenge for all people, in every generation.  When we find ourselves struggling to build our own “Mishkan,” we should realize that this struggle is part of the process, that even Moshe encountered difficult obstacles in the process of building a Sanctuary.  And so rather than feel discouraged, we should continue working and striving to achieve to the best of our ability, and trust that God will step in to assist us at every step along the way.