The final chapters of the book of Shemot outline the completion of
the construction of the Tabernacle. Moshe called for a detailed audit of
all the materials collected for the project and the specific amounts and
use thereof. Our leader wanted teach that leaders must be above reproach
and must keep accounts of all public monies that pass through their hands.
The Tabernacle is referred to as one of "testimony” i.e. a
demonstration that Hashem had forgiven the people for their trespasses
with the Golden Calf. Another reason why the Mishkan was called a
testimony is because it was the resting place of the Tablets of Testimony
that Moshe carried down from Har Sinai. The Midrash, However, gives
another surprising reason for the nomenclature.
"It is a testimony to all peoples of the World that Hashem commanded
its construction." The commentators explain that the intent here is to say
that Moshe did not decide on his own to build a Mishkan -- rather it was
at the behest of G-d.
The question is: If Hashem wanted to clarify this fact, why wait
until the final stages of construction to hint at this principle? Wouldn't
it make more sense to clarify this point before the collection of all the
valuable materials needed to do the job?
Rabenu Yosef Hayim of Baghdad, zt'l, The Ben Ish Hai, explains with a
parable. A King married a woman and treated her royally, showering her
with precious gifts and honor. He became infuriated over an act of
unfaithfulness and angrily separated from her. The members of the royal
court predicted that he would never allow her to return.
However, after time had passed, he sent a message to his former
"Clean your palace and set your domain for a royal visit. I am
planning to come to see you."
Not long after the King arrived and entered the Queen's home. He ate
and drank and chatted with her --much to the disbelief of the members of
the court. When the fragrance of perfumes and oils came from the Queen's
residence the people understood that the King had been appeased and that
she was back in his majesty's favor.
Such was the case with Hashem and the people of Israel. He brought
them to Mount Sinai and gave them His most precious possession -- the
Torah -- and he dubbed them royalty -- a Kingdom of Kohanim. After only 40
days they sinned and He left them and the nations of the world predicted
that He would never take them back. But, as soon as Moshe prayed on their
behalf He did forgive His beloved.
Moshe then said: "I know that you have forgiven them but please
demonstrate beyond a doubt to all the peoples of the Earth that indeed you
have accepted my prayers"
Hashem replied: ''By your life, I swear that I have taken them back.
Build for Me a Mishkan and I will come and dwell amongst them for the
entire world to see. This Tabernacle will serve as a TESTIMONY that I have
forgiven the Jewish people.”
In these hard times of brutal exile we should all take this message
to heart. May Hashem return His presence to a New Temple in Yerushalayim
and again demonstrate His love for us, His People, with the coming of
Mashiah speedily and in our days. Amen.