Hadrash Ve-Haiyun

by the Reisha Rav, HaGoan Rav Aaron Levine Tz"l

Elucidated and Adapted by Efraim Levine


Dedicated in Honor of
Nosson Levine

To Dedicate Please Contact Hadrash Ve-Haiyun

Bezalel, son of Uri son of Chur, of the tribe of Yehudah did all that Hashem commanded Moshe
(Shemos 38:22)

Commenting on this posuk, Rashi notes that it does not say that Bezalel did all that he i.e., Moshe commanded him, i.e. Bezalel. If that were so, Bezalel should have first constructed the furnishings and then the house as commanded by Moshe. Instead the posuk reads the Bezalel did all that Hashem commanded Moshe. For in truth, Hashem commanded that first the house be built and then the furnishings should be constructed. Rashi explains that Bezalel, upon hearing the orders of Moshe, asked that it was common practice to first build a house and then the furnishings, for if the furnishings were constructed first there would be no place for them to be stored until the house is constructed. To this Moshe replied that he was correct and indeed that is exactly what Hashem commanded. Moshe went further to praise Bezalel by noting that his name is an acronym for the words "the shadow of Hashem." His name implied that he sat within the shadow of Hashem when the commands to build the mishkan were given and he heard first hand exactly what they were.

However, the question remains, if Hashem did instruct Moshe that the house be constructed before the furnishings, why did Moshe reverse the order? In order to answer this question we must explain the purpose of the construction of the mishkan. In order to explain this let us look at an early reference to the permanent replacement of the mishkan, i.e., the Beis Hamikdash.

In parshas Vayeitzei, after Yaakov's prophetic dream of the ladder with the angels ascending and descending, Yaakov realized that he was sleeping upon the location of the future Bais Hamikdash. He then proclaimed "How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of Hashem and this is the gate of heaven" (Bereishis 28: 18). The simple translation of the posuk implies that Yaakov made two statements. First, Yaakov stated with a double negative that this is none other than the house of Hashem. Second, this place is also the gate of heaven. We may ask, why with respect to his first statement did he state that this is the house of Hashem in a double negative rather then a simple straightforward statement that this is the house of Hashem? Second what did he add by calling the place the gate of heaven?

First we must understand that the word "house" has the connotation of limitation. A human being stores his possessions within the confines of his home and thereby prevents them from being scattered about the street. Likewise a person confines himself to his home at the end of his day. A home is a specific location where one or something is found to the exclusion of all other physical space. With regard to Hashem, it is not possible to say that He has a home where he contains and confines his presence. Such a statement is nothing other then pure apostasy. Hashem presence is found throughout the world and is not confined to any single location. With this idea in mind let us suggest a homiletic interpretation to the words of Yaakov. Yaakov said "this place is not a house of Hashem in its ordinary sense of usage" for with respect to Hashem that is impossible, for Hashem's presence is in no way limited to any location whatsoever. Yaakov continued "Rather the purpose of this house is to serve as a gate to heaven." The purpose of the Beis Hamikdash is none other then a location designated for us to communicate freely and openly with Hashem, something that we could not do in other locations with the same level and quality as we can here.

With this we may now answer why Moshe instructed that the furnishings be constructed first. The furnishing are the actual tools used to communicate with Hashem. The house itself is just the location where the tools of communication are stored. Because the goal of the mishkan is communication with Hashem and not the confinement of Hashem's presence, Moshe felt the need to emphasize this by commanding the construction of the furnishings first. This would help counteract the erroneous notion that this house serves to confine the presence of Hashem in any way whatsoever as does an earthly home. Likewise, today, although we do not have a Mishkan or Beis Hamikdash we do have the Mikdash Miyat i.e., the Batei Kinaysiyos. These homes serve solely as locations designated for us to communicate with Hashem. A place designated as a center of communication has of course its own special holiness with its own extensive laws. However, Hashem's presence can be found equally everywhere even here in cyberspace.