The Mishkan was finally complete. The nation looked at the magnificent work with great joy, and Moshe was proud. So proud, in fact, that he did something that he only did once more– just before his death: he blessed the entire nation.
Actually, the erection of a Mishkan was the greatest blessing in itself. Hashem had promised the Jewish nation in Parshas Terumah, “Build me a Mishkan — and I will dwell among them” (Exodus 25:8). But Moshe felt that he, too, would add a blessing.
Rashi tells us what Moshe told the people: “May Hashem rest His presence in your handiwork.”
At first it seems that Moshe is reiterating the promise that Hashem Himself made. Hashem had promised to dwell in the midst of the Sanctuary that the Jewish nation would build. Why, then did Moshe repeat G-d’s promise as a blessing? Is he blessing them that Hashem should keep His word? Or is he perhaps bestowing a more powerful message?
A man once approached Rabbi Yehuda Assad for advice. “There is an old, run-down store in the downtown area of the city. I can get it a very reasonable price. I think that with my marketing skills I may be able to turn that location into a profitable venture. Do you think I should buy it?”
Rav Assad made a face. “I don’t think that it would be prudent to enter that part of the city for a business venture.” The man left somewhat dejected.
A few days later another man entered the Rabbi’s study with the identical question about the same property. “There is an old, run-down store in the downtown area of the city. I can get it a very reasonable price. I think that with my marketing skills, and of course with Hashem’s help, I may be able to turn that location into a profitable venture. Do you think I should buy it?”
This time Rabbi Assad nodded in approval. “I think you should make a go of it. I have no doubts that it will be a success.”
When word got out that the Rabbi was behind this new endeavor, the first man stormed into his study quite upset. “Why did the you tell me not to buy the property and then tell my friend just the opposite?” he demanded.
“My dear student,” answered the Rabbi, “there is a great difference. Your friend took in a partner. He said that with the help of Hashem he could make a go of it. When someone includes Hashem in his plans, I am sure that he will succeed!”
For the first time since the exodus the Jews had become accomplished craftsman, artisans, tailors, and contractors. They built a magnificent edifice in the wilderness. Moshe knew that a feeling of self-gratification might accompany their accomplishments. Perhaps they may begin to think that it was their wisdom, their skills and only their abilities that made this beautiful Mishkan possible. So he blessed them with words that were meant to dissuade any such delusion.
“May Hashem’s presence rest in your handiwork.” Of course Hashem promised that he would dwell in the Mishkan. Moshe’s question was, “would the Jews let him in?” Would they make him a partner? Would they recognize Hashem as a significant factor even in the physical handiwork that they themselves had wrought? To that end, Moshe’s blessing incorporated the standard for every action, accomplishment, and success that anyone achieves. May Hashem be a part of your success. May the Shechina rest upon your handiwork.
Text Copyright © 1996 by Rabbi M. Kamenetzky and Project Genesis, Inc.
The author is the Dean of the Yeshiva of South Shore.
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