And G‑d spoke to Moses, saying…this is the work of the Menorah, beaten work of gold; until its base, and until its flowers, it was beaten work; according to the pattern which G‑d had shown Moses, so he made the Menorah. (Num. 8:1,4)

The Holy One showed him [the Menorah] with His finger, because Moses had difficulty understanding [its construction]. Thus, it is written "This is the work of the Menorah…". (See Rashi's commentary there.)

Throughout his commentary on the Torah, Rashi consistently explains the word "this" - "zeh" - as referring to something visible, that one could point to. (See also Rashi on Ex. 12:2, ibid., 15:2, Samuel I 14:1)

They needed to know the letter combinations of the Creation in order to construct the Tabernacle….

Why did Moses have a harder time understanding the construction of the Menorah than of the other vessels of the Tabernacle? Furthermore, G‑d knows what is in a person's heart; since he knew that Moses would not be able to understand through words, but only by seeing, why did He tell him in the first place? Why didn't He just show him the completed Menorah at the outset? Rather, the matter is as follows:

The construction of the Tabernacle paralleled the creation of the world, as the Sages said, "Bezalel knew how to combine the letters through which heaven and earth were made." (Berachot 55a) This implies that they needed to know the letter combinations of the Creation in order to construct the Tabernacle.

The Hebrew letters are the underlying components of Creation….

Bezalel was the architect and executor of the Tabernacle (Ex. 31). According to classic mystical texts, such as the Sefer Yetzira, the Hebrew letters are the underlying components of Creation. Through the infinite combination of these letters the universe came into existence. See, Shaar HaYichud ve'haEmuna, chap. 1, by Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi (printed in Sefer HaTanya).

Now, there are Ten Utterances in the work of Creation, for the word "Bereishit" ["In the beginning"] is also an Utterance, as our Sages have said (Megilla 21b).

According to tradition, G‑d said, "Let there be…" ten times in the story of Creation. However, only nine such statements can be found in the verses.

But why does it not say: "And He said…" as in the other instances? The answer is that it was a Supernal Utterance that was not revealed. For to G‑d, each Utterance is an outflow from Him that is revealed to the Creation - similar to a person whose words reveal his innermost thoughts to others. However, the work of the Menorah corresponded to the first Utterance of Creation, in which [the words] "And He said" were unstated, for it is not revealed to Creation.

Therefore, Moses had difficulty understanding a verbal description of the Menorah's construction. This was because the Creator wanted Moses to realize the correspondence between the Menorah and the first Utterance, in which the words "And He said" were not explicitly stated, being unrevealed to Creation. Therefore, G‑d explained it to him in words, which he did not understand. Then Moses realized that it corresponded to the first the Utterance of Creation.

[From Benei Yisaschar (Kislev-Tevet 4:49); translation and commentary by Eliezer Shore.
Reprinted with permission from]