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Palm Beach, Florida 33480

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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 G-d 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 firsts set of tablets. Around eighty days later G-d 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 G-d’s initial detailed instructions regarding building the Tabernacle.

Moses did this to impress upon the nation that G-d 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 G-d, complete reparation is possible and desired by G-d. One should never feel or think that one cannot completely repair one’s relationship with G-d. 2) Closeness to G-d and the Tabernacle is not solely the domain of a select group of priests or artisans. G-d wants every person to feel that the Tabernacle represents them and understand that the Tabernacle’s purpose was to bring G-dliness into the lives of every single individual.

Tue, November 19 2019 21 Cheshvan 5780