Furniture is an important part of our home. How we furnish our home, the colors, designs and art that we choose, says a lot about the people we are and, perhaps more importantly, about the people we strive to be.

Despite its importance, furniture is rarely the first thing we purchase when we decide to acquire a home. First we build a home, and then we fill it with First we build a home, then we fill itfurniture.

Indeed, when the Jewish people built a home for G‑d in the desert, Betzalel, the chief architect made this very point to Moses:

For Moses commanded Bezalel to first make the furnishings and afterwards the Mishkan . . . Betzalel responded, “It is common practice to first make a house and then to put furniture into it.”1

Moses agreed with Betzalel, and indeed, first the Tabernacle was constructed and only later did they build the furniture.

This leaves us with a question: Why did Moses initially command Betzalel to make the furniture first? Moses surely knew that doing so is unusual.

The home, with its walls and its roof, provides shelter from the outside elements. The home allows the person to take control of and shape his or her environment. The furniture, which facilitates eating, sleeping, studying, etc., represents the specific actions with which we fill our day.

Betzalel’s perspective was that it is pointless to focus on performing a given action before one is in control of his environment. It’s like having a couch but no home. He asserted that “the common practice,” the logical approach, is to first create a tranquil, holy environment in which we are protected from the chaos and confusion of the material world, and only then should we focus on our actions. After all, what would be the purpose of a single positive action, if the rest of one’s day is full of unholiness?

Thus, argued Betzalel, first comes the home and then comes the furniture.

And Moses agreed with Betzalel that, under normal circumstances, one should first transform one’s environment before focusing on a specific Moses knew that unusual times would be comingaction.

Yet, initially, Moses told Betzalel to first build the furniture and then build the home. Why?

Because Moses knew that unusual times would be coming. There would be times when a person would feel that the darkness is too great, that the unholiness is too dominant, and that he or she is too weak to build a shelter from the storm. Moses taught us that in those times, we should first create the furniture—the action. We should choose just one moment of our day and use it for a divine purpose. Even if we don't have a protective home, we can and should engage in holy actions.

Moses told us to fill our lives with moments of holiness. And the energy produced from these moments will ultimately empower us to build a beautiful home, full of material and spiritual blessings.2