The Mishkan Again?

February 26, 2019 at 1:25 AM , , ,

“…And Moshe spoke to the entire community of Bnei Israel, saying: this is the word that g-d has commanded…” –  Shemos 35:4

וַיֹּאמֶר משֶׁה אֶל כָּל עֲדַת בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל לֵאמֹר זֶה הַדָּבָר אֲשֶׁר צִוָּה ה’ – שמות לה, ד

The Torah’s wording is concise, even cryptic at times; an extra word or even letter is already cause for discussion among the Biblical commentaries. Seemingly then, after recording in detail G-d’s instructions to Moshe regarding the Mishkan and all its parts, one verse to the effect of “And Bnei Yisrael did as G-d had commanded Moshe” should have sufficed to conclude the Torah’s account of the construction of the Mishkan. Instead, the Torah relates that Moshe repeated G-d’s command to Bnei Yisrael, records all the materials that were donated, and finally, gives an exhaustive depiction of all the artisans’ work. How is this repetition not excessive?

We find, however, that such repetition in the Torah is not entirely unprecedented. When Eliezer, servant of Avraham, goes to find a wife for Yitzchak, the Torah tells us first about his experiences as they transpired, and then records the entire story again in the context of Eliezer’s conversations. Commenting on that episode, Rashi (on Bereishis 24:42) exclaims, “The conversations of the servants of the fathers are more precious before G-d than the Torah of the sons! The section of Eliezer is told twice, whereas many principles of the Torah were given through clues.”

The intention of Rashi’s statement is not to contrast the servants of the forefathers with Bnei Yisrael, per se, but to point out the preciousness of some of their “conversations,” meaning, narratives that do not seem to convey any unique lesson. Rashi is saying that though the Torah is generally concise even when stating laws and directives for Bnei Yisrael to follow—“the Torah of the sons,” yet narratives that are particularly “enjoyable” to G-d, such as the marriage of Yitzchak and Rivkah, are related in detail and repeated though they may be merely a “conversation.”

This explains why the Torah similarly elaborates on the Mishkan’s construction. G-d’s command to build a Mishkan demonstrated His desire to dwell among Bnei Yisrael. This command was particularly significant in the aftermath of the sin of the Golden Calf, for “the Mishkan was testimony for Israel that G-d forgave them for the incident of the calf, as He caused His Shechinah to rest among them” (Rashi on Shemos 38:21). The Torah therefore savors, as it were, the details of this precious and pivotal moment in the relationship between G-d and His people, and repeats them excitedly.

—Likkutei Sichos, vol. 16, pp. 458-461


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