Why the Repetition?
By: Rabbi Barak Bar-Chaim
The last two Torah portions of the Book of Exodus (Vayakel and Pikudei) describe, in detail, the construction of the Tabernacle, the vessels of the tabernacle (ark, menorah, alter…), and the clothing the priests are to wear while serving in the Tabernacle. The difficulty is that the preceding Torah portions (Terumah, Tetzaveh, Ki Tisa) already contain detailed instructions for the construction of the Tabernacle, its vessels, and the clothing of the priests. In light of our tradition, that every letter and word in the Torah is there for a reason, the seemingly redundant repetition of the details of the construction of the Tabenacle is perplexing.
Ramban (Nachmanedes) suggests that the initial instructions which God taught Moses concerning the construction of the Tabernacle were taught to Moses on Mt. Sinai, when Moses ascended to receive the first tablets containing the Ten Commandments. Upon Moses’s descent, he saw the Jewish people serving the golden calf and broke the first set of tablets. Around eighty days later, God forgave the Jewish people for the sin of the golden calf and Moses again descended Mt. Sinai with the second set of tablets. Upon Moses’ descent, he gathered the entire nation and informed them of God’s initial detailed instructions regarding building the Tabernacle.
Moses did this to impress upon the nation that God had forgiven them, that He desired to dwell amongst them and be present in their lives, and that their initial loving relationship had been restored. It seems to me, that every detail had to be shared with the entire nation at this juncture to teach the following fundamental lessons: 1) No matter how far one has strayed from God, complete reparation is possible and desired by God; One should never feel or think that one cannot completely repair one’s relationship with God, and 2) Closeness to God and the Tabernacle is not solely the domain of a select group of priests or artisans; God wants every person to feel that the Tabernacle represents them and understand that the Tabernacle’s purpose was to bring Godliness into the lives of every single individual.