A Semblance Of Unity
"When you take a cencus of the Children of Israel."(30:12)
In Parshas Terumah, Tetzaveh, and Ki Sisa the Torah relates Hashem's
instructions to Moshe concerning the construction of the Mishkan. In Parshas
Vayakheil and Pekuday Moshe relays these instructions to Bnei Yisroel. Why
did the instructions that Moshe gave to Bnei Yisroel require assembling them
all together? We do not find in Hashem's directives to Moshe that it was
necessary to assemble Bnei Yisroel, nor do we see any of the other
commandments given by Moshe in this manner.
Moshe's instructions to Bnei Yisroel were given immediately after he
descended Har Sinai with the second Tablets. Although Hashem had forgiven
Bnei Yisroel, as signified by His giving the second Tablets, Moshe saw the
need to correct a deficiency that had resulted from the sin of the Golden
Calf. Idol worship stems from a need within a person to separate himself
from Hashem so that he may sense his independence. This need for
independence also results in a lack of unity amongst the populace, for unity
can only be achieved if each individual views himself as part of a community
in which every person is interdependent upon his fellow man. If, however,
man strives to feel his independence, the sense of unity he feels with his
fellow man can be destroyed.On a deeper level, we are truly one because we
come from the same source. If a person attempts to separate himself from
this source he separates from his fellow man as well.Therefore, Moshe
gathered everyone together as an eidah, an assembled community, to undo the
effects of disunity created by the sin of the Golden Calf .
1.See Ohr Hachaim who explains that the precept of Shabbos is recorded at
this juncture for Shabbos is the antidote to idol worship
"See, Hashem has proclaimed by name Betzalel son of Uri son of Chur, of
the tribe of Yehudah" (35:30)
When Betzalel was only thirteen years old, he was designated by Hashem to
supervise the construction of the Mishkan and its vessels . The Midrash
questions the need to trace Betzalel's genealogy back to his grandfather
Chur. The Midrash offers the following explanation: When Bnei Yisroel
entertained the idea of constructing the Golden Calf, Chur resisted and
consequently was killed. Hashem swore that He would reward Chur's
descendants for his act of mesiras nefesh - selfless dedication. Chur's
situation can compared to an army that rebels against the king, and the
king's chief of staff is killed while attempting to defend the king. After
dealing with the insurrection, the king swears to elevate the chief of
staff's children to the esteemed positions that their dead father held .
Why does Hashem wait until the generation of Betzalel, Chur's grandson to
repay Chur for his great sanctification of Hashem's name, instead of imbuing
Chur's son Uri with these talents?
Every child is comprised of a part which he has received from his parents
and a part which he has developed on his own. We all struggle to find our
own identity, separate from that of our parents, and therefore, we do not
appreciate going through life being told that we are exactly like our
parents. If Uri would have been given all of his talents in his father's
merit, his own identity would have been diminished. Therefore, Hashem
skipped one generation, waiting to imbue Betzalel with unique talents inthe
merit of Chur. A person would rather hear that he is exactly like his
grandfather than hear that he is exactly like his father.
2.Tanchuma Vayakheil Ch.2
Enough is not always Enough
"The work done was sufficient and there was extra"(36:7)
When Moshe saw that enough materials and labor had been provided for the
Mishkan, he called a halt to the contributions.. The verse states that
"there was enough...there was extra". The Ohr Hachaim points out that these
two expressions seem to contradict each other; if there was enough, then how
could there be extra? Furthermore, why is there a need to mention the
surplus? The Ohr Hachaim suggests that in order to prevent those who brought
the surplus from being embarrassed by having their donations returned, a
miracle occurred and the surplus was incorporated into the Mishkan and its
Perhaps an alternative interpretation can be offered. In the Zemiros, the
liturgical poetry recited at the Shabbos meal, we find the following phrase:
" savanu vehosarnu", which means "We have eaten our fill and left over ."
It would seem that it is only necessary to attest to the fact that, as
required by the mitzva of Oneg Shabbos - delighting in the Shabbos, we have
eaten our fill. Why is it necessary to say that we have left over?
If there is nothing left over, then it is possible that we did not eat our
fill, rather we finished all that there was and still are not satiated.
Having food left over demonstrates that we have indeed eaten our fill.
Similarly, regarding the Mishkan, even though most of the dimensions of the
structure and vessels were precise measurements, there were some dimensions
that were left up to Bnei Yisroel's discretion; they were allowed to decide
what would be most appropriate. For example, the Torah relates only the
height, length, and width of the Kapores - Ark cover, but not its thickness.
Betzalel determined its thickness based upon aesthetic appeal. If the Torah
had not recorded that there was a surplus, one could think that there were
situations where Betzalel was required to skimp, failing to produce the most
aesthetically appealing product possible. Therefore, the Torah records that
there was a surplus to teach us that there were sufficient materials to
construct the Mishkan and the vessels in the best possible way, and no
corners had to be cut.