The final torah portions of the book of Exodus deal with the creating of the Mishkan, the tabernacle of G-d.
Moshe gathers together the people and relates the following in the Torah portion of Vaykhel;
And Moses spoke to the entire community of the children of Israel, saying: “This is the word that Hashem has commanded to say:
Take from yourselves an offering for Hashem; every generous hearted person shall bring it, [namely] Hashem’s offering: gold, silver, and copper;( …:4-5)
We subsequently read of the intricate and elaborate plans for the building of this Tabernacle. The Mishkan or Tabernacle was to be the earthly abode or expression of Hashem’s glory.
One wonders, then, why does a structure that is so symbolic of Hashem’s presence need be constructed with such intricate design and ornate furnishings? Could not a simple tent provide a more appropriate metaphor for the Presence of Hashem?
This question is addressed by Rabi Yehuda Halevy in his monumental book the Kuzari;
“Hashem elucidated the details of the sacrificial laws and other laws – every facet involving very detailed laws. The same attention to detail is prevalent in all of nature. Each physical object is made up of a combination of different elements, combined according to very exact specifications. The proportions must be more precise than the mind could imagine; even if the smallest error was made in the proportions of these elements, the object would no longer exist as it is. The plant, animal, or limb in question would be defective or would not exist at all…. Similarly the Shulchan, Menorah, Aron, Courtyard, Pillars, Covers and all procedures, were shown to Moshe and required intricate specifications.” ”Kuzari 1:99
The Mishkan, in essence, represents the ultimate purpose of this natural world. The Mishkan represents what the world we live in needs to be acknowledged as. For it is the world that is the ultimate vessel Of Hashem’s Glory.(Shmot Rabbah 12:13.) As King David proclaimed: “Let His glory fill all the earth, Amen and Amen!” (Psalm 72:19)Therefore, just as all of our perceived reality is a function of intricate and sometimes ornate details so must the Mishkan be.
That being so then we must understand how can such a structure can in fact be created.
We read a verse in the Torah portion that seems to repeat a concept unnecessarily;
Every man whose heart uplifted him came, and everyone whose spirit inspired him to generosity brought the offering of Hashem for the work of the Tent of Meeting, for all its service, and for the holy garments.( …:21)
The terms “whose heart uplifted him came” and “everyone whose spirit inspired him to generosity brought” seem to be relating the same thought.
The Ramban in explaining this fact ,understands the term “whose heart uplifted him came” as relating not to those who brought donations but rather to those who stepped up to offer their services to actually create the Mishkan. Ramban then asks “There was no one among them (the people) who learned these skills from a teacher. They received no formal training. Rather, they found within themselves (their nature) that they could perform these tasks and they came before Moshe and said, ‘We will do whatever the master requires’.”
These were not artisans who left Egypt after generations of slavery. These were not embroiders and wood crafting artists, but rather slaves who carried heavy burdens and chiseled gigantic stones.
Yet when they heard the call, they came. They simply were moved to do whatever Hashem puts before them and were convinced in their faith and faithfulness that whatever talents were needed could be acquired or developed out of a deep and spiritual instinct.
They were ready to be lifted by their spiritually elevated hearts; ”To all the wise hearted have I given wisdom’ (Exodus 36:2).” King Solomon writes of such wise hearted people ”the wise of heart will receive commands, But a babbling fool will be ruined. (Proverbs 10:8).
Therein lies the secret. There is a divine whisper in every one of our hearts. That whisper motivating our Neshama ( soul) was introduced into our hearts by the Neshima ( breath) of our creation. When we attune our ears to hear it , then everything becomes possible . Even building a resting place for Hashem’s Presence in the wilderness and subsequently in our own hearts as well.
LeRefuat Yehudit bat Golda Yocheved