The Torah portion of Vayakhel begins by relating how Moshe assembled the Jewish people and, after first communicating G‑d’s command to keep Shabbos, related His command regarding the construction of the Mishkan.1 Rashi explains2 that Moshe assembled the Jewish people just after Yom Kippur, the day after he descended the mountain with the second set of Tablets.

Commentators on Rashi explain3 that his explanation is based on the fact that “those who perform mitzvos with eagerness and passion perform them at the earliest opportunity.”4 This being so, it follows that Moshe did not tarry in relating G‑d’s command about constructing the Mishkan, but did so immediately after Yom Kippur.

But the fact that “those who perform mitzvos with eagerness and passion perform them at the earliest opportunity,” should have impelled Moshe to relate the commandment concerning the Mishkan on the very day of his descent. Why, according to Rashi, did he wait until the next day?

Earlier on,5 the Torah tells of the tremendous quality of Mattan Torah and G‑d’s giving of the Tablets — how this elicited a tremendous degree of dedication and devotion among the Jewish people. Understandably, this same response was forthcoming when Moshe presented them with the Second Tablets on Yom Kippur.

In fact, we may say that their excitement was even greater the second time around, for the giving of the Second Tablets was a reflection of G‑d’s complete forgiveness for the sin of the Golden Calf.6 It is entirely understandable that on that day, Moshe and the Jewish people were wholly immersed in G‑d’s forgiveness and in receiving the Tablets and Torah anew. So much so that this did not leave room for anything else, not even for something as important as building the Mishkan.

Although it is self-evident that the Torah taught by Moshe on that day surely included commandments that related to deeds and action, nevertheless, in their study they were totally immersed in the Torah aspect of these commandments, rather than their practical application.

It was only on the second day, on the morrow of Yom Kippur, that Moshe assembled the Jewish people and told them: “These are the things that G‑d has commanded that they be done.”7 It was then that he related the commands with regard to Shabbos and the construction of the Mishkan, as these commandments related to actual deed and action — Torah study that leads to deed, as opposed to Torah study for the sake of Torah itself.

There is an important lesson here. There are those who are totally immersed in transforming this world into a sanctuary and temple for G‑d. It is important for these people to know that notwithstanding the tremendous quality of such service, it does not replace the mitzvah of Torah study, a mitzvah that is greater than all others.8

Because of the importance of Torah study, it is necessary that while one is learning, his concentration be so great that at that time he relates to nothing else in the world, not even to something as important as transforming the world into a Mishkan.

On the other hand, knowing the importance of Torah study, one may mistakenly believe that one can fulfill his obligation here on earth merely through the study of Torah. The Torah therefore tells us that immediately on the morrow of Yom Kippur — immediately following Torah study — one must strive to transform the world into a dwelling place for G‑d.

For, “Whoever says there exists nothing for me but the study of Torah, does not even possess Torah study”;9 Torah study must be accompanied by prayer, mitzvos and good deeds.10

Based on Likkutei Sichos, Vol. VI, pp. 210-217.