The construction of the Tabernacle, a place for Hashem to reveal His
presence amidst the people of Israel, is described in minutest detail in
The walls and coverings, the courtyard and the utensils are described -
outlining the measurements and the materials, as well as the crafts and
artistic expertise needed to bring the whole complex together into a House
of G-d. For many it would seem like an instruction manual and architectural
plans for contractors – not part and parcel of a holy book of Hashem’s
instructions for life.
The lessons, however, are hinted at in each of the details of the plans.
The Kli Yakar explains that the 3 main utensils – the Ark, The Showbread
Table and the Alter all teach us important lessons for dealing with each
other and with life. The measurements vary as follows. The Holy Ark that
housed the Tablets that Moshe brought down from Sinai, were all incomplete
sums. The length was 2-½ cubits; the width was 1-½ cubits as was its
height as well. In contrast, the Alter had complete measurements: 1 cubit
by 1 cubit by 2 cubits. The third key vessel, the Table had a mixture of
complete and incomplete measurements. 2 cubits length by1 cubit width by 1-
1/2 cubits height. What is the significance of these facts?
The Ark represents Torah learning, the Alter spiritual perfection and the
Table material success. In spiritual matters a person should always see
oneself only half way there. A person should not look back at those who are
at a lower spiritual level but rather at those who are higher achievers in
Torah learning and performance of misvot. These thoughts will prompt a
person to push for more and more growth throughout life. One will never
become self-satisfied and settle into a spiritual rut. In contrast, in
regard to the material world one should look down at those who have less
and gain from the vantage point a sense of satisfaction with whatever one
has. One should realize that one can never fulfill all of one's physical
desires - fulfillment will always be incomplete. The Alter that represents
service to Hashem is the way to perfection.
These few hints at lessons for life are merely the tip of the iceberg. One
who studies the Mishkan and all of its details will learn what one needs to
measure up as a giant in the World to Come.