"…Let every generous person bring the contribution for G‑d." (Ex. 35:5)

Besides demonstrating the extent to which they regretted their involvement in the Golden Calf and their desire for G‑d to once again dwell among them, the people's enthusiasm in participating personally in offering the material for constructing the Tabernacle affected the very nature of the Tabernacle itself.

Since there was no preparation, the recipients have no way of retaining the revelation they receive….

When G‑d gave the Torah at Mount Sinai, it was, relatively, an act of His own initiative. As we have already seen, a revelation from above that is initiated from above has both advantages and disadvantages. The advantage of such a revelation is that it is not limited by the capacity of the recipients; since no preparatory work was done, G‑d need not concern Himself with accommodating such preparations. The disadvantage is that since there was no preparation, the recipients have no way of retaining the revelation they receive, and therefore its effects are transitory. Thus, despite the transcendent revelations that accompanied the Giving of the Torah, its effect was only temporary. The mountain was so holy during the revelation that anyone who touched it was liable to die, but as soon as the revelation was over it reverted to its mundane state. The Jewish people achieved the exalted spiritual level of Adam before the sin, but this did not prevent them from sinning with the Golden Calf a mere forty days later.

With the construction of the Tabernacle, however, the people participated in preparing for the revelation that was to occur upon its completion. Therefore, via the Tabernacle, holiness became part and parcel of our existence. This, indeed, was its essence: G‑d made His home among us.

In this context, the enthusiasm with which the people donated materials toward the Tabernacle's construction expressed their willingness to have G‑d dwell among them permanently. Their generosity and alacrity were what infused the Tabernacle with this quality, and by extension, what enabled the people themselves to be fit for the ongoing revelation of G‑d's presence in their own lives.

© 2001 Chabad of California/www.LAchumash.org