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These are the accountings of the Mishkan, the Mishkan of testimony which were counted at the word of Moshe (Shemos 38:21)
The Baal Haturim takes note that when this parsha describes the construction of the mishkan the words as Hashem commanded Moshe or a similar phrase appear eighteen times. The Baal Haturim explains that Hashem wished to compensate Moshe for the omission of his name from parshas Tetzaveh. When Moshe pleaded to Hashem that He spare the Jewish people from destruction, Moshe asked that his name be omitted from the Torah if Hashem would not forgive the Jewish People. Although Hashem did forgive the Jewish people, as a reminder of what had happened and as a token fulfillment of his request, Moshes name was omitted from parshas Tetzaveh. In our parsha Hashem compensated Moshe by mentioning his name eighteen times.
The commentators ask why was it necessary for the Torah to repeat the lengthy details of the Tabernacle in our parsha when all the information was taught previously? It would have sufficed to simply say, The Tabernacle was constructed as Hashem commanded Moshe. Using the idea of the Baal Haturim we may suggest as follows: The section in which Moshes name was omitted was the commandment to construct the Tabernacle with its appurtenances and vestments. This included all of Tetzaveh and most of Terumah. Hashem compensated Moshe measure for measure. In exactly the same details that his name would have been associated with, Hashem repeated and concluded, As Hashem commanded Moshe.
Let us make the following observation. The Torah records the details of the Tabernacle in parshas Terumah-Tetzaveh and again in Pekudei. The details of both are nearly identical. The only major difference is that in Terumah-Tetzaveh the mishkan is not associated with Moshe or any other spiritual leader. The mishkan has an anonymous leader. In parshas Pekudei every detail is associated with Moshe.
A synagogue and beis medrash are compared to the mishkan. Indeed, it is sometimes called a miniature mishkan or mikdash. Some synagogues follow the model of parshas Terumah-Tetzaveh. They are completely anonymous. They lack leadership. People are free to pray and study without conforming to any specific custom, code of conduct and hashkafah. This obviously has a disadvantage. Too much freedom leads to chaos. Other synagogues follow the model of parshas Pekudei. They have strong spiritual leadership. The customs and hashkafos of the institution are etched in stone. The disadvantage is that those who are unable or unwilling to conform feel left out and in some cases stifled.
In the desert there was only one Tabernacle. Yet it is described both as anonymous and under the leadership of Moshe. The Torah is perhaps telling us that there must be a balance between the two. A synagogue or beis medrash by definition must be accessible to the public. Is goes against the grain of Jewish tradition to limit the use of a synagogue or Yeshiva to members only. However, every synagogue or Yeshiva offers its unique hashkafah and approach to those that is serves and does require spiritual guidance and leadership. The ideal we aim for is the mishkan, which successfully achieved this delicate balance.
© Efraim Levine 5761/2001