It’s How You Wear It

“…And they made Aharon’s holy garments, as G-d had commanded Moshe…” – Shemos 39:1

וַיַּעֲשׂוּ אֶת בִּגְדֵי הַקֹּדֶשׁ אֲשֶׁר לְאַהֲרֹן כַּאֲשֶׁר צִוָּה ה’ אֶת משֶׁה – שמות לט, א

The construction of the Mishkan and all its contents is recounted in Parshas Vayakhel. Then, in Parshas Pikudei, we read how Bnei Yisrael brought all the finished work before Moshe, who erected the Mishkan and initiated the service in it, “and the glory of G-d filled the Mishkan” (Shemos 40:34).

Departing from this pattern, however, is the crafting of the bigdei kehunah, the garments worn by the Kohanim in their service. The fashioning of the bigdei kehunah is not related in Vayakhel, where the other work by the Mishkan’s craftsmen is described, but in Pikudei, where the service in the Mishkan is set in motion.

It’s How You Wear It

This anomaly draws attention to the distinction made by the Rambam in his enumeration of the 613 mitzvos, where he reckons dressing in bigdei kehunah as a mitzvah, but not crafting them; crafting the bigdei kehunah merely facilitates the mitzvah to wear them (see Sefer Hamitzvos, Positive Mitzvah 33.) Conversely, constructing the various components of the Mishkan is in and of itself a mitzvah, independent of the service associated with it (see ibid, Positive Mitzvah 20.)

Accordingly, Parshas Vayakhel, whose theme is the efforts of Bnei Yisrael to create a Mishkan, mentions only the construction of the Mishkan and its contents, in which Bnei Yisrael’s labor and effort had independent “mitzvah significance.” The theme of Parshas Pikudei, however, is the Divine response elicited through the functioning of the Mishkan and the service in it. The fashioning of the bigdei kehunah is therefore recorded in Parshas Pikudei and not it Vayakhel, for the “significance” of the garments in only achieved through their utilization—when worn by the Kohanim in the functioning Mishkan.

—Toras Menachem vol. 30, p. 201


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