More than half of parashat Pekudei is an accounting of materials donated for the Tabernacle and its service. There is a famous Talmudic dictum that a blessing only dwells on something hidden (Baba Metzia 42a); the Lubavitcher Rebbe says that although counting something interferes with its blessing, when the counting is done "according to Moses", the blessing is limitless. This is the reason that when counting something, even for a holy purpose, the custom is to assign each person a word from a Torah verse with a known number of words. Then this counting is also "according to Moses", and the blessing will be unbounded. The 10-word verse customarily used is: "Save your nation, and bless your portion, guard them and raise them forever". (Psalms 28:9) Why this verse? Because now, during the period just before Mashiach's arrival, when Jews meet, their first request is: "G‑d, Save your nation" - by bringing the redemption immediately.

…the details of the Tabernacle correspond to parts of the human body

Concerning counting interfering with blessings, the Zohar states that since the Tabernacle was so holy, the blessings were unaffected. So what was the purpose of counting every detail of the Tabernacle? Rabbi Chaim Halberstam of Sanz explains that the details of the Tabernacle correspond to parts of the human body. Just as the Tabernacle was the dwelling place for G‑d in that era, so too, the human body must be sanctified in our generation, so it can be a dwelling place for G‑d. In addition to this, when something can be counted, it cannot lose its identity. Therefore, the elements of the Tabernacle had to be counted.

"These are the commands of the Tabernacle, Tabernacle of Testimony". (Ex. 38:21)

Why does the verse mention the word Tabernacle twice? Rebbe Michel of Zlochow always said that the key to understanding the answer to all questions about the Torah begins with accepting that the Torah is an eternal document whose purpose is to lead a person closer to G‑d. Connecting to our spiritual Source can happen with each daily prayer. Yet, if this is really so, it should be apparent that we are spiritually ascending with each prayer. But we see that this is not the case. The problem is that after each prayer session, most of us return physically and intellectually to the attractions of this material world, and this immediately pulls us back to where we started. The solution is that even in our mundane activities, we must maintain our connection with G‑d, contemplating our relationship with Him, and always following His path to accomplish every task in the most sanctified way.

The only reason the Jews sinned was to teach future generations….

In Hebrew the word for Tabernacle is "Mishkan", which comes from the root meaning "to dwell". From this we can understand the inner meaning of the verse, "commands of the Tabernacle, Tabernacle of Testimony": "If you want the Torah commands to truly dwell [from the Hebrew root "mishkan", also meaning "Tabernacle"] in you, you have to make yourself be a dwelling place [also "mishkan"] for the testimony". How? By purifying and focusing your thoughts on the spiritual, as described above. Similarly, a person must examine him or herself to see if the commandments are being performed properly and without arrogance. If so, it is good for the health of our souls and bodies for now and the future, and through this will come the redemption.

Why was the Tabernacle called the "Tabernacle of testimony"? Rebbe Shimon, in the midrashic commentary called the Mechilta, says it is a testimony to the whole world that the Jews were forgiven for the sin of the Golden Calf. But why was "testimony" needed? The Mitamim writes that the only reason the Jews sinned was to teach future generations that it is possible to receive forgiveness even for a sin as serious as idol worship. The purpose of the Tabernacle is to remind us there is always a path back to G‑d. [Both of these explanations are drawn from the text Otzar Chaim compiled by Chaim Yaakov Zuckerman (Hebrew).]

"And the children of Israel did all that G‑d commanded Moses, and so they did" (Ex. 39:32)

The Kotzker Rebbe wrote that the above verse implies that if Moses was not the one who commanded the Jews, it would not have been possible for them to do what G‑d required. Moses' intermediate role in the situation was absolutely necessary. So too, we must all connect to the Torah leader, the Moses of our generation, in order to properly perform the mitzvot.

Shabbat Shalom, Shaul

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