Perhaps it is for this reason that the donations for the Mishkan’s construction were collected from all members of the Jewish nation, as the Torah relates (Shemos 35:21-25), “They came, every man whose heart lifted him, and everyone whose spirit motivated him brought the donation of Hashem…and every man with whom there was turquoise or purple wool…brought them…and anyone with whom there was acacia wood for all of the work brought it, and every wise woman spun with her hands.” The universal collection enabled every member of the Jewish people to have a part in the construction of the Mishkan.
This principle is manifested particularly in the adanim, the silver sockets that served as the foundations of the Mishkan. The adanim were fashioned from the silver collected through the machatzis hashekel (Shemos 38:25-27), which was contributed equally by every member of the Jewish nation, as the pasuk states (ibid., 30:15), “The wealthy man shall not give more and the poor man shall not give less than half a shekel.” This alluded to the fact that the Mishkan was to be the product of a joint effort of the entire Jewish people.
Furthermore, the craftsmen who were in charge of the construction of the Mishkan were Betzalel ben Uri of Shevet Yehudah and Aholiav ben Achisamach of Shevet Dan. The fact that these two tribes were selected is quite significant, for the tribe of Yehudah traveled at the head of the nation on their journeys (Bamidbar 10:14) while the Tribe of Dan was the rear guard (ibid., v. 25). Thus, the selection of craftsmen from these two tribes indicates that the construction of the Mishkan was associated with the entire Jewish people and that the artisans who performed it were considered to be representing every member of the nation.
This concept can also shed light on another aspect of the construction of the Mishkan and the Beis HaMikdash. Moshe Rabbeinu’s command to the Jewish people to build the Mishkan was presented at a public assembly, as the Torah relates (Shemos 35:1-11), “Moshe assembled the entire congregation of Bnei Yisrael and said to them, ‘…and every wise man among you shall come and make what Hashem has commanded, the Mishkan….’ ”
The Mishkan’s inauguration also took place in the context of a public assembly; in the Torah’s description of the first day of its inauguration, the pasuk states (Vayikra 8:3), “He assembled the entire congregation at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting.”
This was true not only of the Mishkan but also of the Beis HaMikdash. Regarding the inauguration of the Beis HaMikdash the navi relates (Melachim I 8:1-2), “Then Shlomo assembled the elders of Yisrael, all the heads of the Tribes, the princes of families of Bnei Yisrael, to King Shlomo to Yerushalayim, to bring up the Ark of the Covenant of Hashem from the city of David, which is Tzion. All of the people of Yisrael gathered to King Shlomo.”
We must understand why a public assembly was needed for the construction or inauguration of the Beis HaMikdash and the Mishkan. Chazal, in fact, address this issue (in Seder Olam ch. 15): “ ‘Then Shlomo assembled’ – this teaches that the Shechinah rests only on an assembly, just as the pasuk states [regarding the Shechinah resting upon the Mishkan], ‘The people saw and they sang’ (Vayikra 9:24)…. With regard to Mattan Torah, it states (Shemos 19:11), ‘For on the third day Hashem will descend before the eyes of the entire nation on Mount Sinai,’ and it says about the Beis HaMikdash (Divrei Hayamim II 7:1-3), ‘When Shlomo finished praying the fire descended from the heavens…and Hashem’s honor filled the House…and all of Bnei Yisrael saw the fire descend and the honor of Hashem upon the House.’ ”
Thus it was necessary for these events to take place at a public gathering because they were preparing a place for the Shechinah to rest in the Jewish people’s midst, and “the Shechinah rests only on an assembly.”
Indeed, the Beis HaMikdash was the single most unifying force that brought together the disparate Jews comprising the Jewish nation. The Beis HaMikdash was home to every Jew; it was the place where every Jew, regardless of approach to serving Hashem, could come and be welcomed. It was the place where korbanos were accepted from all Jews and where all Jews came together as one man and with one heart to serve their creator.
About the Author: Rav Dovid Hofstedter is the founder and nasi of Dirshu and mechaber of the Dorash Dovid sefarim on the Torah and Moadim.
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