“Okay, Hebrews. Build Me a Tabernacle, and put into it an ark, menorah, altars, skins, vessels. Those who serve there should wear such-and-such clothes, and the high priest must have his own unique eight-part wardrobe.”

That, in a nutshell, is the summary of the two Torah portions of Terumah and Tetzaveh.

Following them come the next set of two portions, Vayakhel and Pekudei, which relate how the Jews followed the commandments and prepared the Temple for G‑d. Perfect.

If only things made so much sense. Alas, we have a problem.

Between these two sets of two, there appears another portion that has absolutely nothing to do with building G‑d’s home. On the contrary! Ki Tisa describes an event which is the antithetical theme of building a home for the L‑rd—the sin of the Golden Calf, G‑d’s anger, and the consequent plague and punishments.

How did golden calves manage to enter in middle of the most holy story describing the building of an earthly home for Almighty G‑d? Kind of a bad idea for a halftime show, don’t you think? Between planning and building the Temple, we’ll discuss tablet smashing, idolatry, adultery, and a bunch of other fiascos. What a plan!

Do you want to hear the answer that the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneersohn, of righteous memory, gave to this question just nine days before his stroke in 1992? You might say that the answer he presented is apropos to our situation. You decide.

The world beats to a three-string sequence. Every plan and goal happens in three stages. First comes the plan, then comes the implementation of the plan, and then comes the ultimate reward and benefit from the project.

Example: First you plan your business with the end goal in mind. Then you run your business. Then you (hopefully) reap the profit. High, low, high.

Stage 1 is beautiful, idyllic, rosy, heartwarming. “Oh, how stunning will everything be once my plan is put into action!” Alas, this is still in the dream stage. It’s only the potential for success.

It is only once we enter stage 2 that we are taking real steps towards the end line. You can reach the real high only if you went through the low. You can climb Mt. Everest only if you climb Mt. Everest. You can have a productive day only if you go out and be productive. You can only become a doctor if you b‑e‑c‑o‑m‑e (10+ long years) a doctor.

In Ki Tisa we read of all three stages. We read of the giving of the first tablets by G‑d to a perfect nation. Then the Jews sin—they enter the “real life” of struggle, mistakes and imperfection. Then and only then do we move to big stage: the second set of tablets, the concept of repentance, G‑d revealing the 13 attributes of mercy, and the beautiful shine and radiance of the face of Moses. This would’ve not been revealed if we stayed in the idyllic stage.

G‑d set up a system where you must drop to reach the top. Perfection is achieved by imperfection.

Our home for Him is built by amateur builders, crooky contractors and wannabe architects. We might stumble, tumble, crumble or fumble, but we keep on trying. We live up to our mistakes and we commit to do better next time. And G‑d loves that.

Of course, this doesn’t legitimize sin. Heaven forbid. But once the deed is done, it must serve as the thrust that will launch us into the orbit of G‑d. Let every descent serve as step up to achieve our lifetime goal of making the entire world a home for Him.

So that is why we read of idolatry in middle of building G‑d’s home. Because the road to heaven is paved with bad intentions—and repentance!