Terumah: The Power to Build Worlds
By Rabbi Yonah Burr
ועשו ארון עצי שטים אמתים וחצי ארכו ואמה וחצי רחבו ואמה וחצי קמתו
And you should make an Aron from shiitim wood; two and a half amos long, an amah and a half wide, and an amah and a half tall.
The Torah seems to instruct us to begin the construction of the Mishkan with the Aron and the vessels, and only then should we construct the actual structure of the Mishkan.
The Gemara in Meseches Berachos 55a relates a story; says Rav Yonasan, Betzalel’s name is appropriate to his wisdom; when Hashem instructed Moshe to construct the Mishkan, He said “go tell Betzalel to make the Mishkan, then the Aron and the rest of the vessels”. Moshe, however, went and reversed the order, saying to make the Aron, then the Mishkan. To which Betzalel replied, “our teacher, isn’t it the way of the world to first construct the house and then bring in the vessels? Yet you are telling us the reverse? Where should I put the vessels until I construct the Mishkan? Perhaps Hashem really told you to construct the Mishkan first? To which Moshe replied “indeed you are right; you must have been in the ‘Shadow of Hashem” Betzal Kail” when He issued the command”.
The question is obvious; why would Moshe reverse the instructions, to construct the Aron first, if Hashem really told him to build the Mishkan first?
The Ramban explains that the ‘power’ of the Mishkan was the Torah; the Aron was the holiest of the vessels, for it housed the Luchos. As a matter of fact, presence of the Shechina in the Mishkan was a recreation of the revelation of Har Sinai. It was all about the Torah.
Perhaps this was what Moshe was stressing; of course, we need to construct the Mishkan first; but we should not lose sight of what our goal is; to bring the Shechina into our midst through the study and observance of the Torah.
The Gemara tells us that Betzalel knew how to combine the letters of the Aleph Bais to create worlds; he used the Sefer Yetzira-the secrets of the power of creation to construct the Mishkan. The Mishkan was a miniature world; a world where the Divine Presence would reside. And to construct such a world, one must employ the secrets and power of the Sefer Yetzira-the book of creation.
This is our job as well; to incorporate the Torah into our daily lives, thereby allowing the Divine Presence to enter our world; our homes, and our lives.
Through the Torah, we have the ability to create a Mishkan! To create a world where the Shechina can reside!
Have a wonderful Shabbos.