"אלה פקודי המשכן"
“These are the accounts of the Mishkan...” (38:21)

QUESTION: The Torah is careful not to repeat a word or write an extra letter. Hence, theparshiot of Vayakheil and Pekudei which are a repitition of Terumah and Tetzaveh should have been omitted?

ANSWER: The Torah discusses at great length the episodes that took place when Eliezer goes to find a suitable wife for Yitzchak. When he meets with her family, the entire story is repeated. Rashi explains, “The ordinary conversation of the servants of the Patriarchs is more pleasing before Hashem than the Torah of the sons. Therefore, the section of Eliezer is repeated in the Torah, whereas many important principles of the law were given only by hinting.” (See Bereishit 24:42, Rashi.)

The gravest sin ever committed by the Jewish people was the making and worshipping of the golden calf. It incited the wrath of Hashem to the extent that He considered, G‑d forbid, annihilating the entire people. The Mishkan is referred to as the Mishkan of Testimony (משכן העדות) because it serves as a testimony that Hashem forgave the sin of the golden calf (see Vayikra 9:23, Rashi). Consequently, since the Mishkan accomplished forgiveness for His beloved people, He enjoys talking about it repeatedly.

(לקוטי שיחות חט"ז)


"אלה פקודי המשכן משכן העדת"
“These are the accounts of the Mishkan, [the] Mishkan of Testimony.” (38:21)

QUESTION: Rashi says in the name of the Midrash that the word “Mishkan” is repeated twice as a hint to the Beit Hamikdash, which was taken as a pledge (“mashkon”) in the two destructions for the sins of the Jewish people.”

How does the word “Mishkan” — “Tabernacle” — hint at the Beit Hamikdash?

ANSWER: The first Beit Hamikdash stood for a total of 410 years and the second Beit Hamikdash lasted 420 years. The word "משכן" has the numerical value of 410 and the word "המשכן" has the numerical value of 415. If we add five to the numerical value for the five letters of the word, we have 420.

(רבינו בחיי)

* * *

The Gemara (Yoma 21b) relates that in the second Beit Hamikdash there were five things missing which were in the first Beit Hamikdash. Therefore, the Torah’s allusion to the second Beit Hamikdash (המשכן) has the numerical value of only 415.

(חתם סופר)


"אלה פקודי המשכן משכן העדת"
“These are the accounts of the Mishkan....” (38:21)

QUESTION: In the beginning of Parshat Mishpatim, Rashi gives a rule that the word “eileh” dismisses, and the word “ve’eileh” adds. What does the word “eileh” in our pasuk dismiss?

ANSWER: In the nineteenth century there lived in England the famous Jewish philanthropist Sir Moses Montefiore. Queen Victoria once asked him, “How much wealth do you have? How much do you own?” Sir Moses told her it would take him a few days to do some accounting; afterwards he would be able to reply. When Sir Moses told her the amount of his wealth, she became upset, saying, “You are insulting me. Everyone knows that you have much more.” Sir Moses explained that he considered as his wealth whatever money he gave away to tzedakah. Anything else that he had was only temporary and subject to confiscation or loss.

The usage of the word “eileh”“these are” — suggests homiletically that the only meaningful holdings one possesses are the resources that are devoted to building Hashem’s sanctuaries or for other holy purposes. Only such investments are eternal; all others are transitory.

* * *

According to the Midrash Rabbah (Bamidbar 22:8), the Hebrew word for money indicates that it is transitory: the word “mamon”— "ממון" — is an acronym for "מה אתה מונה" — “What are you counting? It is nothing!”

(אור החיים)


"משכן העדת"
“The tabernacle of testimony.” (38:21)

QUESTION: Why is the Mishkan called, “Mishkan Ha’eidut” (Tabernacle of Testimony)?

ANSWER: From the time the Mishkan was built in the dessert until the construction of the first Beit Hamikdash by King Shlomo there elapsed a period of 479 years. The word“Ha’eidut” (העדת) has the numerical equivalent of 479. This alludes to the fact that for 479 years the Mishkan served as a testimony to Hashem’s dwelling among the Jewish people.

(רבינו בחיי)


"אשר פקד על פי משה"
“Which was counted according to the commandment of Moshe.” (38:21)

QUESTION: Shouldn’t the pasuk say, “the commandment of Hashem”?

ANSWER: In the times of Mashiach we will have the third Beit Hamikdash. The words “al pi” (על פי) — “according to” — have the numerical value of 190, which spells the word "קץ"— keitz — the word used to describe the end of galut. Consequently, in the same pasuk where there is a hint to the two Batei Mikdash which were destroyed (see Rashi), there are mentioned the words “al pi Moshe” — to suggest that through studying the Torah which was given through Moshe, we will merit the keitz — end of galut — and the coming of Mashiach, and ultimately the building of the third Beit Hamikdash. (See Malachi 3:22,23.)


"ובצלאל בן אורי בן חור למטה יהודה עשה את כל אשר צוה ה' את משה"
“And Betzalel the son of Uri, the son of Chur, of the tribe of Yehudah, made all that G‑d commanded Moshe.” (38:22)

QUESTION: Rashi explains that it says Betzalel did all that G‑d commanded Moshe and not that he did as Moshe commanded him because Moshe told Betzalel to make the vessels first and the Mishkan afterwards. Betzalel objected and made the Mishkan first and then the vessels. His reasoning was that it is logical for one first to build a house and afterwards the furnishings.

Moshe agreed with Betzalel and said to him, “The name ‘Betzalel’ which means ‘in the shadow of G‑d’ ” is most appropriate for you because you display prophetic knowledge. This is exactly what Hashem told me: to first make the Mishkan and later the vessels.”

If Hashem had told Moshe to make the Mishkan first and then the vessels, why did he reverse the order when instructing Betzalel?

ANSWER: When Moshe had instructed Betzalel to be in charge of the construction of the Mishkan, he feared being accused of nepotism. People might have complained, “Why did you choose your young nephew for such an important position rather than not seek someone more qualified?” Moshe wanted to prove that though Betzalel was related to him and only thirteen years old, it was indeed Hashem who had designated him.

Therefore, Moshe reversed the order of the commands he received from Hashem and publicly instructed to first make the vessels, certain that Betzalel possessed Ruach Hakodesh and that he would act in the way Hashem actually instructed. Based on Betzalel’s response, Moshe declared to the people, “See that Hashem selected Betzalel, the son of Uri, the son of Chur (35:30). It was not I who chose him; he was appointed by Hashem, and he knew exactly what Hashem commanded.”

(שער בת רבים)

* * *

Alternatively, when Hashem conveyed the command of constructing the Mishkan, He said to Moshe, “According to everything that I show you, the form of the Mishkan and the form of all its vessels, vechein ta’asu — and so shall you do” (25:9).

The vav in the word “vechein” seems to indicate that there were two messages given to Moshe. 1) To make everything according to how he was shown by G‑d. 2) “Vechein ta’asu” — “andso shall you do.” Rashi explains this as a second command referring to the future, should there be a need to replace any vessels of the Tabernacles. However, it can also be interpreted to refer to the chronological order according to which the vessels of the Tabernacle should be made.

Moshe originally explained it as Rashi does, and thus he had no directive from Hashem for the order in which to make the vessels. Consequently, he considered making the vessels before the Mishkan. When Betzalel disagreed and argued that it is customary to build the house before the furniture, Moshe agreed saying, “You are correct and you are in the shadow of G‑d. Indeed, when G‑d commanded me to make the Mishkan and said ‘Vechein ta’asu,’ He must have been referring to the order of priority, and thus I agree with you that the Mishkan should be made before the vessels.”

(שו"ת תירוש ויצהר סי' קל"ד)


"ויעשו את בגדי הקדש אשר לאהרן כאשר צוה ה' את משה"
“And they made the holy garments for Aharon, as G‑d had commanded Moshe.” (39:1)

QUESTION: Why was it necessary to stress “as G‑d had commanded Moshe”?

ANSWER: The words “as G‑d had commanded Moshe” are repeated 18 times in this parshah. Eighteen is equal to “chai” (חי) — “life.” The Torah informs us that throughout his entire life, Moshe continuously strove to do as G‑d commanded him.

(עי' בעל הטורים)


"ויעשו את ציץ...ויכתבו עליו פתוחי חותם קדש לה'"
“They made the head-plate...and they wrote in the same manner as a signet ring’s engraving, ‘Kodesh LaHashem’ (Holy to G‑d).” (39:30)

QUESTION: Why does it say, “vayichtevu”“they wrote” —in plural?

ANSWER: The Gemara (Yoma 38a) relates that Ben Kamtzar, was able to hold four pens in his hand and write the four letters of Hashem’s name at the same time. The Rabbis were upset with him because he refused to teach this skill to anyone else. The Rabbis wanted him to teach others because the first two letters of Hashem’s name (י-ה) form one of his names. The next letter, "ו", changes it to a regular word, and this raises the question of mechikah (erasing) Hashem’s name (Minchat Chinuch 437). Ben Kamtzar avoided this question by writing all four letters simultaneously.

Consequently, when they made the head-plate, in order to avoid any halachic problems connected with erasing Hashem’s name, they wrote — four people together — each writing one letter of Hashem’s name on the head-plate at the same time.

(עי' מנחת חינוך תל"ז, ועי' תוס' יו"ט יומא פ"ג מי"א)


"ותכל כל עבדת משכן אהל מועד ויעשו בני ישראל ככל אשר צוה ה' את משה"
“All the work of the Mishkan was completed and the Jewish people did according to all that G‑d commanded Moshe.” (39:32)

QUESTION: Why is it necessary to emphasize that the Jews did “according to all” that Hashem commanded Moshe? Who would dare to do otherwise?

ANSWER: According to halachah, Ha’oseik bemitzvah patur min hamitzva” — when one is involved in performing a mitzvah, he is exempt from doing other mitzvot (Succah 25a). When the Jews were preoccupied with the building of the Mishkan, there were many mitzvot that they did not fulfill. The pasuk tells us that once the work on the Mishkan was completed, the B’nei Yisrael resumed performing all the mitzvot of the Torah, which Hashem had commanded through Moshe.

(אמרי שפר)


"וירא משה את כל המלאכה...ויברך אתם משה"
“Moshe saw all the work...And Moshe blessed them.” (39:43)

QUESTION: His blessing was "יהי רצון שתשרה שכינה במעשה ידיכם" — “May His Divine presence abide in the work of your hands” (Rashi). Why didn’t Moshe say, “May the Shechinah rest in the Mishkan”?

ANSWER: When the Jews were involved in building the Mishkan, Hashem was delighted with His chosen people because they were in an exalted spirit. After the Mishkan was completed, they returned to their regular mundane activities.

Undoubtedly, Moshe prayed that the Shechinah should be pleased with Klal Yisrael and dwell in the Mishkan. However, in addition, he also blessed the Jews that when they are involved in “ma’aseh yedeichem” — their regular daily activities and preoccupations — even then they should conduct themselves in such a way to merit that the Shechina should feel “comfortable” in their midst.

(פרדס יוסף)


"ביום החדש הראשון .. תקים את המשכן .. הוקם המשכן .. ויקם משה את המשכן"
“On the day of the first month you shall erect the Mishkan ... The Mishkan was erected ... Moshe erected the Mishkan.” (40:1, 17, 18)

QUESTION: Why is the erection of the Mishkan mentioned three times?

ANSWER: The mention of the three erections of the Mishkan is a remez — hint — to the three holy Temples of the Jewish people. The first was built by King Shlomo. The second was erected when Ezra returned from Babylon after the Jews had experienced 70 years of exile. The third will come down from heaven fully built. (See Sukkah 41a, Rashi.)

Two of the expressions [“takim” — “you shall put up” and “vayakem” — “and Moshe put up”] connote human involvement. The third expression (“hukam” — was erected) is passive and alludes to the third Beit Hamikdash which will, please G‑d, be put up speedily by Hashem Himself.

(כלי יקר)


"ביום החדש הראשון באחד לחדש תקים את משכן אהל מועד"
“On the day of the first month, on the first day of the month, you shall erect the Tabernacle, the Tent of Meeting.” (40:2)

QUESTION: The construction of the Mishkan was completed on the 25th day of Kislev (see Tur Orach Chaim 684). Why was its assembly delayed until Rosh Chodesh Nissan?

ANSWER: Hashem told Moshe to wait with the dedication until the auspicious day of Rosh Chodesh Nissan because in the month of Nissan our forefather Yitzchak was born. The simchah — joy — would be enhanced with the mixing of the two joyous occasions (the erection of the Mishkan and commemoration of Yitzchak’s birth).

Hashem also said that “In Nissan when I informed Avraham through my angels about the birth of Yitzchak they said in My behalf ‘I shall return to you’ (Bereishit 18:10, Rashi). Thus, I will return — i.e. rest My Glory among Klal Yisrael, i.e., in the Mishkan — in the month of Nissan when Yitzchak was born.”

The 25th of Kislev felt somewhat slighted. As an appeasement, the rededication of the second Beit Hamikdash, in the days of the Hasmoneans, took place on the 25th of KislevChanukah.

(מדרש תנחומא סוף פקודי ועי' בעץ יוסף שם, ילקוט שמעוני מלכים סוף רמז קפ"ד)

* * *

QUESTION: Why didn’t Hashem follow the ruling of the Gemara (Yevamot 47b) “Shehuyei mitzvah lo mashi’im” — “We do not delay the performance of a mitzvah”?

ANSWER: Some say that if by the delay it will be performed in a better way (in our case, enhanced simchah — joy) it may be delayed.

Alternatively, this rule only applies to a yachid — individual — lest he may die and not do the mitzvah altogether. However, it does not apply in the case a community, because tzibur lo meit — a community does not die.

(הדרש והעיון)


"ויקם משה את המשכן ויתן את אדניו וישם את קרשיוויתן את בריחיו ויקם את עמודיו"
“And Moshe erected the Mishkan and he put down its sockets, and set up its boards, and inserted its bars and erected its pillars.” (40:18)

QUESTION: Since the pasuk enumerates “its sockets,” “its boards,” “its bars,” “its pillars,” the words “vayakem Moshe et haMishkan” are superfluous.

ANSWER: A number of coverings were placed upon the Mishkan. Actually, the lower covering created a closed entity which in itself is the true Mishkan. Thus, the passage, “And Moshe set up the Mishkan” specifically means the hanging of the bottom covering.

Although the workers first made the boards and sockets and the covering afterwards, when Moshe erected the Mishkan, he put up the covering first and caused it to be suspended miraculously. Consequently, only later did he place the additional components of the “sockets,” “boards,” “bars,” and “pillars” to the miraculously suspended Mishkan.

(ספורנו)

* * *

QUESTION: Obviously, it would have been much easier to first raise up the boards and then place the coverings over them. Why did Moshe do it in this complex way, relying on a miracle to suspend the curtains in mid-air?

ANSWER: The Midrash (Tanchuma, Pekudei 11) states that the construction of the Mishkan paralleled the creation of heavens and earth. There is an opinion in the Gemara (Chagiga 12a) that the heavens were created first, and the earth afterwards. Therefore, Moshe, following Hashem’s actions, first placed the curtains, which are equal to the heavens, before putting up the sockets and the boards, which are comparable to the earth.

(It is interesting to note, that in parshat Terumah, the instructions for the coverings are mentioned before the instructions for the boards and sockets [see 26:1 and 26:15].)

(דברי ירמיהו)


"ויקם משה את המשכן"
“And Moshe erected the Mishkan.” (40:18)

QUESTION: According to Midrash Rabbah (Bamidbar 12:10), during the first seven days of dedication Moshe would erect and dismantle the Mishkan daily.

In a seven day period there must be a Shabbat. How was Moshe allowed to do this work on Shabbat?

ANSWER: The completed Mishkan was extremely heavy and the people were not able to stand it up. They confronted Moshe with their dilemma, and he, too, was unable to erect it. He turned to Hashem saying, “How is it possible to erect it by means of man?” Hashem told him, “Put your hand to it.” It appeared as though Moshe erected it, but actually it stood up by itself (Rashi 39:33). Since in reality everything was a miracle of Hashem and Moshe did not do any physical labor, there was no question of desecrating Shabbat.

(הדרש והעיון)


"ויקח ויתן את העדות אל הארן"
“He took and he put the Tablets into the Ark.” (40:20)

QUESTION: The word “Vayikach” — “he took” — seems extra; it should have just said, “He put the tablets into the Ark”?

ANSWER: When Moshe received the Tablets the Mishkan was not built yet. Moshe made an Ark of wood in which he placed the Tablets and stored it in his tent (Devarim 10:1). When the Mishkan was constructed, Betzalel made an Ark of gold to house the Tablets. Therefore, the Torah tells us that “Vayikach” — Moshe took out the Tablets from the temporary wooden Ark and “vayitein” — he put them into the permanent Ark of gold.

(רמב"ן)


"וישם את הבדים על הארן"
“And he inserted the staves on the Ark.” (40:20)

QUESTION: The staves were on the side of the Ark. Why is it written “on the Ark”?

ANSWER: The Ark represents the Torah scholars, and the staves represent those who support them. Not only should the supporters of Torah be alongside the scholars and offer their help when it is needed, but they should also be “on top” of the Torah scholars. It is incumbent on the supporters of Torah to project the needs of the scholars and assure that they be able to study Torah in peace and tranquillity.

(באר משה)


"אלה פקודי...בכל מסעיהם"
“These are the accounts...Throughout all their journeys” (38:21, 40:38)

QUESTION: The number of pesukim and a word which adds up to that number is written at the end of every Parshah of the Torah. The word is supposed to serve as a siman (סימן) — a mnemonic for the number of pesukim. Why is this omitted at the end of Parshat Pekudei?

ANSWER: The reason may be due to the fact that in Parshat Pekudei there are 92 pesukim and the words “בלי כל” have the numerical value of 92. Possibly, in a early print of the Chumash, a typesetter who was a mediocre scholar noticed that it was written at the end of the parshah "צ"ב, בלי כל סימן". Erroneously, he understood it to mean “92, without any siman,” and therefore he omitted it.

(לקוטי שיחות ח"ו ע' 408, ובחומש עם מלבים כתב "צ"ב פסוקים אצא סימן")


"כי ענן ה' על המשכן יומם ואש תהיה לילה בו...בכל מסעיהם"
“A cloud of G‑d was on the Mishkan by day and fire used to be over it by night...throughout their journeys.” (40:38)

QUESTION: This is the concluding pasuk of Chumash Shemot. Torah is never ending. What parallel can be drawn between the closing and opening passages of Chumash Shemot?

ANSWER: “Day” represents the good times and happy periods in Jewish history. “Night” is an allusion to gloomy and difficult times that may, G‑d forbid, confront us. The Torah assures us that throughout all our journeys, regardless if things are shining for us or G‑d forbid the reverse, clouds of Hashem and heavenly fire protect us to guarantee our safety and survival.

Chumash Shemot begins with the journey of the Jewish people down to Egypt, which was one of the darker periods in our history. Knowing that Hashem’s watchful eye is with the Jewish people throughout “all their journeys” helped them survive the ordeal of slavery.

* * *

Another way to link the end and beginning of Chumash Shemot may be based on the following:

In the beginning of Chumash Shemot the Torah relates how the daughter of Pharaoh saved Moshe when he was placed in a box at the bank of the Nile river. On the Pasuk “vatishlach et amatah” — “she stretched out her arm” (2:5) — Rashi comments that Hashem miraculously elongated it and it was able to reach the box.

In the concluding parshah of Chumash Shemot we learn that when the Mishkan was completed, no one was able to erect it due to the weight of the boards. It was brought to Moshe and he, too, was puzzled. How could he possibly pick it up? Hashem told him, “Put your hand to it, and then it will stand up by itself” (Rashi 39:33).

The lesson which we are taught in the beginning and end of this Chumash is that when something has to be accomplished, we should not become disillusioned and frightened because it seems difficult or impossible. If we will make an honest effort to do our best, Hashem will bless us with success and the impossible will become reality.