This was on the morning after Yom Kippur, the day that Moses descended from the mountain [with the second tablets].
This teaches us that Moses instituted the practice of assembling on Shabbat to listen to the reading of the Torah.
The Torah describes the Jew’s work in the course of the week as a passive endeavor—“six days work shall be done” (not “six days you shall do work”). For the Jew regards his workday endeavors not as the source of his sustenance, but merely as a “vessel” in which to receive G‑d’s blessing.
(The Chassidic Masters)
Why does the Torah place the commandment to cease work on Shabbat next to the work of the Mishkan? To teach us that a person is guilty of violating the Shabbat only if the work he does has a counterpart in the work of making the Sanctuary: they sowed (the herbs from which to make dyes for the tapestries); you too shall not sow [on Shabbat]. They harvested [the herbs]; you too shall not harvest. They loaded the boards from the ground onto the wagons; you too shall not bring an object from a public domain into a private domain . . .
(Talmud and Rashi, Shabbat 49b)
Thus the Mishkan not only defines the type of work forbidden on Shabbat, but also the type of work the Jew is engaged in on the other six days of the week: the work of building a home for G‑d out of the materials of physical life.
(Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi)
“Gold” represents the purity and perfection of the tzaddik. “Silver” represents the great yearning of the baal teshuvah (“returnee” or penitent) for closeness to G‑d—a yearning many times more powerful than that of the tzaddik, because it is a yearning from afar (kessef, the Hebrew word for silver, also means “yearning”). Copper, the lowliest of metals, represents the good deeds of the sinner. G‑d’s home on earth is complete only when it includes all three.
(The Lubavitcher Rebbe)
It is written, “That which emerges from your lips you shall observe and do” (Deuteronomy 23:24). From this we know only that if he uttered it with his lips; if he decided in his mind, how do we know that he must keep his promise? Because it says, “Everyone whose heart stirred them . . . brought the offering to G‑d.”
(Talmud, Shevuot 26b)
The women came first, and the men followed.
When Moses said, “Whoever is of a willing heart, let him bring it, the offering for G‑d,” and did not say it directly to the princes, they were displeased at not being asked to bring. So they thought: Let the people bring what they will, and we shall make good whatever they omit. But all Israel entered with zeal into the work of the Mishkan, and joyfully and enthusiastically brought all the donations. See what is written about this! “They came, the men along with the women”—they came one on top of another, men and women together in an intermingled throng, and in two mornings they had brought all the necessary donations. . . . The princes then wished to bring their donations but could not, because Moses had already given orders: “Let neither man nor woman bring any more . . .” The princes were distressed, and said: “Seeing that we were not privileged to participate in the offerings to the Mishkan, let us give towards the garments of the high priest . . .” This is why when the Mishkan was completed the princes took the initiative, and were the first to bring offerings for its dedication (cf. Numbers 7).
Said Rabbi Aba bar Acha: There’s no understanding the character of this people! They’re solicited for the [Golden] Calf, and they give; they’re solicited for the Mishkan, and they give.
(Jerusalem Talmud, Shekalim 1:1)
When so commanded, refraining from doing a mitzvah is no less a mitzvah than doing a mitzvah.
“And three cubits its height”: Rabbi Yehudah says that this is meant literally. Rabbi Yosei said: Here it says “square” (ravua), and regarding the incense altar it also says “square”: just as the incense altar’s height was twice its length, so here too its height was twice its length. . . . As the Tabernacle was ten cubits high, so was the altar ten cubits high. How, then, do I understand the verse “And three cubits its height”? Three cubits above the ledge (which encircled the altar, and served as a walkway for the kohanim).
(Talmud, Zevachim 59b; Rashi)
The daughters of Israel had mirrors, in which they looked to adorn themselves; these too they did not refrain from donating to the making of the Mishkan. Moses disdained these mirrors, since their purpose is to awaken lust. Said G‑d to him: Accept them, for these are more beloved to Me than everything else: through these, the women begot hosts of children in Egypt. When their men were exhausted by hard labor, they would go and bring them food and drink and feed them. They would take along the mirrors, and each would look at herself in the mirror together with her husband and tease him, saying, “Look, I’m more beautiful than you,” thus awakening desire in her husband and cohabiting with him and conceiving and giving birth there, as it is written (Song of Songs 8:5), “Under the apple tree I roused you.”
(Midrash Tanchuma; Rashi)