Shiur #23: The History of the Resting of the Shekhina(Part XII) - The Mishkan ֠Le-Khatchila or Be-di'eved (Part IIA)
Yeshivat Har Etzion
Shiur #23: The History of the Resting of the Shekhina
The Mishkan Le-Khatchila or Be-di'eved (Part IIA)
Rav Yitzchak Levi
In the previous lecture, we discussed the disagreement regarding the timing of the command to build the Mishkan, the proofs for the two conflicting opinions, and the substantive significance of the view that the biblical narratives are indeed written in chronological order. According to this opinion, the building of the Mishkan was le-khatchila. In this lecture, I wish to examine the spiritual significance of the view that the command to build the Mishkan was issued only after the sin of the golden calf.
I. THE SPIRITUAL SIGNIFICANCE OF THE VIEW THAT THE COMMAND REGARDING THE MISHKAN CAME IN THE WAKE OF THE SIN OF THE GOLDEN CALF
I wish to examine the various views found in the midrashim and among the Rishonim through the analysis of Nechama Leibowitz (Iyunim Le-Sefer Shemot, pp. 337 ff.).
1) TESTIMONY THAT THE SHEKHINA RESTS IN ISRAEL
"And let them make Me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among them" (Shemot 25:8). When was this portion dealing with the Mishkan stated? On the very day of Yom Kippur. Even though the portion dealing with the Mishkan is recorded before the incident involving the [golden] calf, Rabbi Yehuda bar Shalom said: There is no chronological order in the events of Scripture, as it is stated: "Her paths wander, and she is ignorant" (Mishlei 5:6) - the paths of the Torah and its portions are confused. On Yom Kippur Moshe was told: "Let them make Me a sanctuary." From where [do we know this]? For Moshe went up on the sixth of Sivan and spent forty days and forty nights [on Mount Sinai], and then another forty, and then another forty, altogether a hundred and twenty. And you find that on Yom Kippur they achieved atonement, and on that very day the Holy One, blessed be He, said, "And let them make Me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among them," so that all the nations should know that that they achieved atonement for the incident involving the [golden] calf. And therefore it is called the "tabernacle of testimony" (Shemot 38:21), for it serves as testimony to all of mankind that the Holy One, blessed be He, dwells in your sanctuary. The Holy One, blessed be He, said: Let the gold in the Mishkan come and atone for the gold from which the calf was made, about which it is written: "And all the people broke off the golden earrings, etc." (ibid. 32:3). And therefore they achieve atonement through gold: "And this is offering which you shall take of them: gold" (ibid. 25:3). The Holy One, blessed be He, said: "For I will restore health to you, and I will heal you of your wounds" (Yirmiyahu 30:17). (Tanchuma Teruma, 8)
In other words, the goal of building the Mishkan was to inform the entire world that God dwells in the sanctuary, in the midst of Israel, despite the sin of the golden calf.
2) ACQUIESCENCE TO THE HUMAN NEED FOR TANGIBLE MODES OF WORSHIP
"And you shall make an altar of shittim wood" (Shemot 27:1). The entire matter of the menora, the table, the altar, the boards, the tent, the curtains and all the vessels of the Mishkan for what? Israel said before the Holy One, blessed be He: "Master of the universe, the kings of the nations have a tent, a table, a menora, and an incense burner. And this is part of the royal order, for every king needs this. And you our King, our Redeemer, our Deliverer shouldn't you have this royal order, so that all the people in the world will know that you are the king?" He said to them: "My sons, those [kings of] flesh and blood need all that, but not I, because before Me there is no eating, and no drinking, and I do not need a light. And my servants prove the point, for the sun and the moon illuminate the entire world, and I bestow My light upon them. I will watch over you favorably by virtue of your forefathers." Israel said to the Holy One, blessed be He: "Master of the universe, we are not asking for our forefathers, for You are our father, although Avraham be ignorant of us, and Israel acknowledges us not [cf. Yeshayahu 63:16]." The Holy One, blessed be He, said to them: "If so, do what you wish, but do it as I command you." (Midrash Aggada, ed. Buber, Shemot 27:1)
The sin of the golden calf demonstrated that the people of Israel cannot make do with Divine service performed in the mind and in the heart; they need tangible means of service, like the other nations of the world. According to this midrash, the Mishkan is God's answer to this need (even though God Himself has no need for it whatsoever). But even when God acquiesces to this need, He emphasizes that the Mishkan must be made precisely as He commands. I shall expand upon this issue later in the lecture.
3) DRAWING CLOSE ONCE AGAIN AFTER THE SIN
Another explanation: "That they may bring me an offering" (Shemot 25:2). This is what is written: "I sleep, but my heart is awake" (Shir Ha-Shirim 5:2). The people of Israel said: "I was asleep with respect to the end, but the Holy One, blessed be He, was awake I was asleep regarding the mitzvot, but the merit of my fathers stood for me, and my heart was awake I was asleep after making the golden calf [in despair], but my heart awoke when the Holy One, blessed be He, knocked at it." This is "That they may bring me an offering" - "Open to me, my sister" (ibid.). How long will I walk about without a house Rather, let them make Me a sanctuary, so that I not be outside. (Shemot Rabba 33, 3)
This midrash focuses on Israel's despair owing to their distance from God in the wake of the sin, and it views the Mishkan as a means provided to Israel through which to once again draw near to Him.
4) THE MISHKAN AS A CONTRACTION OF THE SHEKHINA THE POSITION OF THE SEFORNO
In several places in his commentary to the Torah, the Seforno presents a view that portrays the Mishkan as a radical contraction of the resting of the Shekhina in relation to the ideal situation that had preceded it. The Seforno spells out his position in the most detailed and explicit manner in his commentary to Moshe's first ascent to Mount Sinai (commentary to Shemot 24:18):
"And Moshe was on the mountain" Every time that he went up there from then on, which was forty days and forty nights, like the period of the formation of a fetus (Nida 30a) fit to hear from the master what nobody else would comprehend. As it says: "The skin of his face shone while He talked with him" (Shemot 34:29). And this came to an end because of their sin at the end of the first forty days [on the 17th of Tamuz (Ta'anit 28b]), at a time that he was fit to comprehend it, as it says: "Go, get you down, for your people have become corrupt" (Shemot 32:7).
And during the middle [forty days from the 18th of Tamuz to the 29th of Av], as is known from tradition (Seder Olam Rabba, chap. 6), they were subject to anger and did not merit to enjoy the rays of splendor, and this was achieved [the rays of splendor] during the last forty days. During that time he was commanded to build the Mishkan, as it is explained: "And into the ark you shall put the Testimony that I shall give you" (Shemot 25:21). And this was not fulfilled in the first tablets, for they were only put into the ark after they were broken, without any Testimony. As they said (Pesachim 87b): "The tablets were broken, and the letters flew off." And this is what it says: "And let them make Me a sanctuary, that I may dwell among them" (Shemot 25:8). Not as He had intended previously, when He said: "An altar of earth you shall make to Me In all places where I cause My name to be pronounced, I will come to you" (Shemot 20:20). But now they will need priests. And this itself is explained: "And take you to you Aharon your brother" (ibid. 28:1). The tribe of Levi was not chosen to serve until after the incident involving the calf, as it says: "At that time the Lord separated the tribe of Levi to minister to Him, and to bless in His name" (Devarim 10:8).
It says then that every time that Moshe went up to the mountain, he stayed there forty days and forty nights. And the time that this objective was reached was the last time, when he was commanded to build the Mishkan. And after he was finished with the Mishkan, the priestly garments, the incense and the anointing oil, it is explained that at the end of the first [forty days], God, gave the first set of tablets, and that He did not cause any delay but rather Israel were corrupt And during the middle [forty days], as our Rabbis received by tradition, there was the story of "See, you say to Me" (Shemot 33:12) and "Hew for yourself" (ibid. 34:1). And during the third [set of forty days] was the whole story of "And He was there with the Lord forty days and forty nights and he wrote upon the tablets" (ibid. v. 28). And he then came down with the rays of splendor (ibid. v. 29), and he commanded about the building of the Mishkan.
Seforno similarly writes at the beginning of the account of the sin of the golden calf (Shemot 31:18):
After relating what good was achieved at the end of all the times that Moshe was on the mountain for forty days, it explains the reason why the objective that God had set at the giving of the Torah was not achieved, namely: "And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests, and a holy nation" (ibid. 19:26); and "An altar of earth you shall make to Me In all places I will come to you" (ibid. 20:21), so that it became necessary to make a Mishkan. It says that this happened because of the evil choice of Israel. For indeed, at the end of the first forty days, [God] gave the tablets, the work of God, to sanctify them all as priests and a holy nation, in accordance with His good word, but they rebelled and corrupted their ways and fell from their high stature, as it says: "And the children of Israel stripped themselves of their ornaments by Mount Chorev" (Shemot 33:6).
The Seforno notes two important declines in Israel's stature in the wake of the sin of the golden calf. One change, noted here merely by allusion, is connected to the command regarding the altar of earth, given immediately following the revelation at Mount Sinai:
An altar of earth you shall make to Me, and you shall sacrifice on it your burnt offerings, and your peace offerings, your sheep, and your oxen. In all places where I cause My name to be pronounced, I will come to you, and I will bless you. And if you will make me an altar of stone, you shall not build it of hewn stone. For if you lift up your tool upon it, you have defiled it. Neither shall you go up by steps to My altar, that your nakedness be not exposed on it. (Shemot 20:20-22)
The Seforno (ad loc.) explains this command as the ideal form of serving God by way of simple and modest means:
"An altar of earth you shall make to Me" You will not have to make temples of silver and gold and precious stones in order that I should draw near to you, for an altar of earth will suffice You will not have to draw My providence over you by means of gold and silver and the like, for I will come to you and bless you.
"You shall not build it of hewn stone" to beautify them.
"Neither shall you go up by steps" Even though I will not trouble you with work and ornamentation so that I may dwell in your midst, nevertheless take heed not to act with lightheadedness at My altar.
The second change that the Seforno describes is the transfer of the service from the firstborns to the priests, as he explains in his original explanation of the mitzva of vidui ma'aser (declaration regarding tithes):
Because of our sins and the sins of our forefathers, the service was removed from the firstborns, who were fit to receive teruma and ma'aser, as it is stated: "And I polluted them by their gifts, in that they caused to pass [through the fire] all that opens the womb" (Yechezkel 20:26). This is the declaration regarding ma'aser [which constitutes a confession of the sin for which the service was transferred from the firstborns to the tribe of Levi] mentioned by our Rabbis (Ma'aser Sheni 5:10). (commentary to Devarim 26:3)
He explains the mitzva of libations in the same context:
"To make a sweet savor then shall he that brings an offering bring." Now, until the [golden] calf a sacrifice was "a sweet savor" without a meal offering and libations, as we find with Hevel (Bereishit 4:4), Noach (ibid. 8:21), and Avraham (ibid. 12:7). And as it is stated: "And he sent the young men from the children of Israel, who offered burnt offerings, and sacrificed peace offerings of oxen to the Lord" (Shemot 24:5), and nothing else. When they sinned with the [golden] calf, He required a meal offering and libations for the daily offering which is a communal offering, and when they sinned with the spies He required a meal offering and libations even for a private offering. (commentary to Bamidbar 15:3-4)
According to the Seforno, then, the sin of the golden calf and the commandment to build the Mishkan that came in its wake caused several changes in the essence and nature of the resting of God's Shekhina. The ideal situation is the situation described by the Torah after the revelation at Mount Sinai. The closeness of God is achieved through popular service, on altars made of earth, rather than in Temples of gold and silver; those who minister are the firstborns, the representatives from every family of the "the kingdom of priests and a holy nation;" the resting of the Shekhina is not limited to one place, but rather "in all places where I cause My name to be pronounced, I will come to you, and I will bless you." In such a situation, the burnt offerings are a sweet savor even without meal offerings and libations.
The sin utterly changed this situation. According to the Seforno, the connection between the Mishkan and the sin is not only chronological, but causal; after the sin, the service of God was conditioned on a Mishkan something that previously had not been deemed necessary. The Mishkan is a significant reduction in Divine revelation; the revelation in "all places where I cause My name to be pronounced" by way of simple earthen altars is replaced by a revelation in one place only, which is a Temple of gold and silver. The service of the firstborn, who represent all the families in the nation, is replaced by a single family selected for the priesthood; the sacrifices are no longer a sweet savor without meal offerings and libations. The ideal resting of the Shekhina, according to the Seforno, is popular and general. It is meant for all and possible in many places perhaps even in all places and is achieved through simple means. In the wake of the sin, and as a direct result of it, the revelation of the Shekhina becomes limited to a single place and to a single family.
This is not the place to consider the far-reaching spiritual ramifications of this approach. In this framework, I will content myself with the interpretations proposed by Rav Aviya Hakohen, following the approach of the Seforno, to two other incidents that take place after the sin of the golden calf.
Following the account of the punishment meted out for this sin, Scripture relates that Moshe pitched the "Tent of Meeting" far from the camp:
And Moshe would take the tent, and pitch it outside the camp, afar off from the camp, and he called it the Tent of Meeting. And it came to pass, that everyone who sought the Lord went out to the Tent of Meeting, which was outside the camp And it came to pass, as Moshe entered the Tent, the cloudy pillar descended, and stood at the door of the Tent, and one talked with Moshe And all the people rose up and worshiped, every man in his tent door. And the Lord spoke to Moshe face to face, as a man speaks to his friend. And he turned back to the camp, but his servant Yehoshua, the son of Nun, a young man, did not depart out of the tent. (Shemot 33:7-11)
The commentators disagree about the relationship between this tent and the Mishkan, which is also called the "Tent of Meeting." Rashi (ibid. v. 11) sees Moshe's tent as a temporary substitute until the Mishkan is set up. Onkelos, in contrast, distinguishes between the term ohel mo'ed used to describe the Mishkan, which he translates as mishkan zimna, and Moshe's ohel mo'ed, which he renders as mishkan bet ulpana" (ibid. v. 7). According to Onkelos, Moshe's tent stood parallel to the Mishkan, and Moshe would go there with the seventy elders (Bamidbar 11:16, 24-26) and Yehoshua (Devarim 31:14-15). What does this tent represent? As Rav Aviya Hakohen formulates it: "The opposite of the [golden] calf and the Mikdash is the tent of prophecy void of rituals. This tent teaches that man does not need gold and silver, or other material means, in order to reach the level of prophecy." As opposed to the Mishkan a temple of gold and silver, which represents the Divine service after the sin Moshe's ohel mo'ed represents simple and modest service, Israel's level following the revelation at Mount Sinai.
Rav Hakohen offers a similar explanation to the wooden ark that Moshe was commanded to prepare in preparation for receiving the second tablets: "At that time the Lord said to me, 'Hew for yourself two tablets of stone like the first, and come up to me into the mountain, and make for yourself an ark of wood'" (Devarim 10:1). Here, too, the Rishonim disagree whether this was a temporary ark that was replaced at the time of the establishment of the Mishkan with the gold-plated ark fashioned by Betzalel (Ramban), or whether there were two permanent parallel arks: Betzalel's ark was in the Mishkan, whereas the ark fashioned by Moshe contained the broken tablets and went out to war with Israel (Rashi; see lecture no. 5). Rav Hakohen suggests that the difference between the two arks should be understood as follows:
As we tried to understand the difference between the two ohel mo'eds, so I shall try to explain the essential difference between the two arks. The ark in the book of Devarim was a simple ark, designed, as its name implies, to serve as an ark. It is not by chance that it was made of wood rather than gold. The ark that was fashioned by Betzalel was part of the Mishkan, many of whose vessels were made of gold and silver. The ark mentioned at the end of the story of the golden calf could not have been made of gold, because the primary message of the passage is against gold and silver ritual vessels.
5) THE SIN OF THE GOLDEN CALF IMPACTS UPON THE NATURE OF THE MISHKAN - RASHI
We saw in the previous lecture that Rashi following the Tanchuma invokes the principle that "there is no chronological order to the events in the Torah," and argues that the sin of the golden calf preceded the command regarding the building of the Mishkan. The Ramban, in contrast, understands that the biblical stories are recorded in their proper chronological order. How does this understanding impact upon Rashi's understanding of the command to build the Mishkan in general? Does this force him to the conclusion that the Mishkan was be-di'eved (like the Seforno, who understands the chronology like Rashi), against all the proofs adduced in the previous lecture that the Mishkan was le-khatchila?
On this matter, I wish to follow in the footsteps of Rav Menachem Liebtag in his article, "The Mishkan Le-khatchila or Be-di'eved" (Daf Kesher 327, Parashat Pekudei, II Adar 5758), who argues that Rashi, like the Ramban (and against the Seforno) maintains that the building of the Mishkan was le-khatchila; the disagreement between them is limited to the chronological issue. Rav Liebtag writes as follows:
I shall try to prove that according to Rashi the idea of the Mishkan (and the Mikdash) is le-khatchila, and that the disagreement between the two approaches is limited to the question how to understand the reasons for certain details in the command regarding the Mishkan
The Ramban's explanation emphasizes the proximity and the connection between the command regarding the Mishkan and the revelation of God at Mount Sinai, and therefore the accounts are recorded in their chronological order
Rashi's explanation, on the other hand, emphasizes the connection between the command to build the Mishkan and the sin of the [golden] calf. I shall note several examples of the connection that Rashi sees between the command and the sin of the [golden] calf:
1) The need for the half-shekels to count the people (at the beginning of Parashat Ki-Tisa): "'And you shall appoint it for the service of the Tent of Meeting' (Shemot 30:16) from this statement you may learn that he [Moshe] was commanded to take their census when they began to contribute towards the building of the Tabernacle, after the incident of the [golden] calf, because the pestilence had befallen them " (Rashi, Shemot 30:16).
2) Aharon's sacrifice in the command regarding the milu'im in Parashat Tetzaveh: "'One bull' to atone for the incident of [worshipping the golden] calf which is of the bullock species" (Rashi, Shemot 29:1).
3) The selection of Chur's grandson to build the Mishkan "'Betzalel the son of Uri the son of Chur' Betzalel's grandfather is mentioned because he was killed during the incident of the [golden] calf and the building of the Mishkan came to atone for that sin; therefore Chur is mentioned in connection with it." (Chizkuni, ibid. 31:2)
4) The selection of Aharon and his sons (and the entire tribe of Levi) to serve in the Mishkan (in place of the firstborns): "'At that time the Lord separated the tribe of Levi' In the first year of the exodus from Egypt, when you sinned by [worshipping the golden] calf, but the sons of Levi did not thus sin [at that time] God separated them from you." (Rashi, Shemot 10:8)
Owing to the sin of the [golden] calf, certain elements in the command regarding the Mishkan were changed, and therefore Rashi argues that the events are not reported in their chronological order: "There is no 'earlier' or 'later' [no chronological order] in the events related in the Torah; the incident of the [golden] calf happened a considerable time before the command regarding the work of the Mishkan was given. For on the seventeenth of Tamuz the tablets were broken, and on Yom Kippur God became reconciled with Israel, and on the next day [the 11th of Tishrei], they began to bring their contributions for the Mishkan which was set up on the first of Nisan " (Rashi, Shemot 31:18).
Rashi's approach does not view the incident of the golden calf as the reason for the command regarding the Mishkan, but rather it is interested in the impact that the incident had on certain elements of the command, e.g., who would be involved in building it, who would serve in it, which sacrifices would be brought in it, and the like. The question remains: According to Rashi, why were the events not recorded in their chronological order? Why did the Torah record the command regarding the Mishkan before the incident involving the golden calf?
When Rashi says that there is no chronological order in the events in the Torah he means that the events related in the Torah are arranged in accordance with their conceptual connection, and not necessarily in chronological order. According to Rashi, the Ramban's understanding of the conceptual connection between the Mishkan and the giving of the Torah does not contradict his own position, but rather supports it. The Torah purposely records the command regarding the Mishkan before the sin, despite the fact that it was given to Moshe after the incident of the golden calf, and joins it to the story of the revelation at Mount Sinai in order to emphasize the connection between them. With respect to the importance of the Mikdash le-khatchila, as a continuation of the giving of the Torah, there is no need to conclude that Rashi and the Ramban disagree. According to Rashi, the idea of the Mikdash arises already in Parashat Mishpatim, before the sin of the golden calf, but the details of the "house of God" were not yet given. We do not know the original plan for the building of the Mishkan had Israel not sinned with the golden calf (the original plans may have been "broken" together with the tablets). In the wake of the sin of the calf, and perhaps as part of the atonement, the original plan for the Mishkan was changed, and several details were changed accordingly. Rashi's position does not stem from a negation of the idea that the Mikdash was le-khatchila, but from his exegetical position that "there is no chronological order in the events related in the Torah" (his position throughout the Torah), and he sees the command regarding the Mishkan as connected both to the revelation at Mount Sinai and to the sin of the golden calf.
According to the Ramban, the principle that "there is no chronological order in the events related in the Torah" must only be invoked as a last resort (his position throughout the Torah). Since there are no clear proofs that force us to understand that the building of the Mishkan came to atone for the sin of the golden calf, the Ramban prefers to assume that the events are recorded in their proper chronological order.
Indeed, even those who accept the other approach, namely, that the command regarding the Mishkan was given prior to the sin of the golden calf will find many differences between God's command to Moshe in Teruma and Tetzave and Moshe's command to the people of Israel and its execution after the sin in Vayakhel and Pekudei. I will bring three examples:
1) The Zohar (beginning of Vayakhel, 195a) notes that the command reads "Of every man whose heart prompts him to give you shall take My offering" (Shemot 25:2) including the "erev rav," for at this stage the Mishkan was meant to serve as a center for all of humanity. In the wake of the sin, however, the Mishkan became restricted to Israel, and now it says: "Take from among you" (Shemot 35:5) and not from the "erev rav," who caused Israel to sin.
2) Prior to the sin it is stated: "You shall be for Me a kingdom of priests, and a holy nation" (Shemot 19:6), and the service was to be performed by the firstborns, but following the sin, Aharon and sons were chosen to be the sole ministers. This was already noted in the position of the Seforno, but clearly it is correct according to the others as well.
3) Abravanel who (in his commentary to the end of Parashat Mishpatim) adopts the position of the Ramban, that the command regarding the Mishkan preceded the sin argues that the commandments to bring sacrifices were also introduced in the wake of the sin of the golden calf:
When Israel left Egypt, came to Mount Sinai and heard the Torah and the mitzvot, God did not command anything about the sacrifice. Rather he commanded them about beliefs and about the praiseworthy deeds that they were to perform. However, when they made the [golden] calf, and God, blessed be He, saw their evil hearts and that they would sin before Him every day, it became necessary to prepare a balm and remedy for their illness and evil. Therefore came the commandments regarding the sacrifices burnt offerings that were to be brought to atone for their evil thoughts, and sin offerings and guilt offerings and all the other sacrifices which they would not have been commanded about had they not sinned Because of the gravity of their sin, they needed the commandments regarding the sacrifices.
To summarize, both according to those who maintain that the command regarding the Mishkan was issued before the sin involving the golden calf and according to those who maintain the opposite, the sin impacted on the Mishkan; but this alone does not suffice to conclude that the command regarding the Mishkan was issued only be-di'eved.
 This is proven by the fact that the people of Israel asked for the golden calf in response to Moshe's absence (Shemot 32:1) and as his replacement.
 A similar idea emerges from the end of the Tanchuma passage cited above, according to which it was the practical work of building the Mishkan that healed Israel's wounds.
 Similar reservations about wealth and external grandeur are expressed by the Seforno in his commentary to Shemot 38:24: "All the gold he attests to the amount of gold and silver and bronze that were used in the building of the Mishkan which was very little in comparison to the wealth of the first Temple, as is explained in the book of Melakhim (I Melakhim 6:20-35; 7:48-50), and more than that the wealth in the Temple build by Herod (Sukka 51b). But nevertheless, the glory of the Lord remained in the Mishkan built by Moshe for a longer period of time than in the first Temple, and it did not appear at all in the second Temple. Thus it teaches that it is not the amount of wealth and the grandeur of the building that cause the Shekhina to rest in Israel, but rather the Lord desires those who fear Him and their deeds so that He may rest among them."
 We find a similar understanding in his commentary to the mitzva of challa (Bamidbar 15:20): "Following the sin of the spies, He required challa, so that they be fit for blessing to rest in their homes."
 See the Rambam's Sefer ha-Mitzvot, positive commandment no. 20, where the Rambam explains that this verse refers to the allowance of bamot.
 "Neged Ha-Mikdash Ma'aseh Ha-Egel," Bet Mikra 150, year 42(Nisan-Sivan 5756), pp. 257-271.
 As opposed to the Seforno, however, Rav Hakohen does not try "to create harmony between the mitzva of the Mishkan and the section regarding the God of silver," but rather he leaves the contradiction as is, and sees in the two accounts two different aspects of Divine worship.
 So, too, Midrash Ha-Gadol on Shemot 36:7: "The is what is written: 'And Moshe would take the tent' this refers to Moshe's bet midrash."
 This discussion might shed light on the conceptual dimension of the positions of Rashi and the Ramban regarding the two arks.
As we saw earlier in lecture no. 9, the Ramban maintains that the primary function of the Mishkan is to serve as a resting place for the Shekhina and a place for God to speak with man (and not as a place for man to serve God). Therefore, Moshe immediately fashioned a wooden ark and a tent for prophecy the ohel mo'ed outside the camp, which was entirely set aside for the revelation of God's word that would temporarily fill the major function of the Mishkan until the Mishkan would be built with all its vessels and all its service. But after the Mishkan was built, there was no longer any need for a wooden ark, for according to him, the Mishkan was entirely le-khatchila, with no aspect of be-di'eved, and the wooden ark did not express anything that was not expressed by the whole Miskhan.
As for Rashi, we shall see in the next section that he sees two layers in the Mishkan: A le-khatchila layer, which is not connected to the sin of the [golden] calf, and a be-di'eved layer, which includes the impact of this sin on the nature of the Mishkan. According to this, there is room for two arks coexisting at the same time: a wooden ark that expresses the ideal situation of the resting of the Shekhina and an ark of gold that represents the situation after the sin. There are a number of difficulties with this proposal, but this is not the place to expand upon the matter.
 Rav Sh. Aviner expanded on this point in Tal Chermon, Parashat Teruma 1, pp. 122-123.
 In the future, the entire people of Israel will regain the status of priesthood: "But you shall be named, Priests of the Lord" (Yeshayahu 61:6); "And I will also take of them for priests and for levites" (ibid. 66:21).
 From his commentary to Yirmiyahu 7:22: "For I did not speak to your fathers, nor command them in the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, concerning burnt offerings or sacrifices." See also his commentary to Shemot 24:18; 29:38 (regarding the daily offering).