Of Time and Space
Next week is Parshat Sh'kalim and from then on we all will be focusing on Purim and then Pesach and then the many special days of Iyar and then on Shavuot and Matan Torah... So let us use Vayak-heil to once again examine Shabbat and the Mikdash which fills the p'sukim of the second half of the book of Sh'mot. This week's sedra has 122 p'sukim. Next week's P'kudei has another 92. The first three of these 214 p'sukim deal with Shabbat. The other 211, deal with the Mishkan. If we were to match numbers of p'sukim between Shabbat and Mikdash, Mikdash would 'win'. But the mishna in Chagiga (1:8) would 'invalidate' such a comparison because it states that some mitzvot (such as Shabbat) have relatively little text and volumes of Oral Law and other mitzvot (such as Temple service and, we would add, construction) have copious text - yet these and these (and a third type) are all GUFEI TORAH, the main part of Torah. In other words, how many p'sukim a mitzva has cannot be used to evaluate the significance of a mitzva. The two identical p'sukim - one in K'doshim and the other at the end of B'har, don't help in our 'competition'; they both tell us to keep G-d's Shabbatot and revere His Mikdash. It seems that equal weight is being given to both Shabbat and Mikdash. The 'warning' in Ki Tisa of ACH ET SHABBTOTAI TISHMORU, tells us that the construction of the Mishkan cannot be done on Shabbat. Point for Shabbat. Yet in the Mikdash, there were many things done that would be otherwise forbidden on Shabbat. At least four lambs were slaughtered and completely burned on the Mizbei'ach - for example. Point to Mikdash. Even the language of the third pasuk of Vayak-heil, which says LO T'VAARU EISH... one may not kindle fire... is qualified by B'CHOL MOSH-VOTEICHEM... in YOUR dwelling places - the prohibition applies in our homes, but not in THE HOUSE of HASHEM. In the Mikdash, the Menora was kindled. Another point for Mikdash? Maybe.
Shabbat means Sanctity of Time. Mikdash means Sanctity of Place (as we have pointed out more than once). Are these two concepts equal? Maybe not. A kohein's mis-thought about the time for eating the meat of a korban can render the sacrifice invalid as PIGUL, with a death penalty from heaven for intentionally eating the meat. A mis-thought of where the meat can be eaten, also invalidates the korban, but eating of its meat does not carry a death penalty. Points for Shabbat (maybe). Maybe the strongest factors favor- ing Shabbat in this pretend competition are: The fact that Shabbat is declared - twice - by HaShem as the eternal sign between Him and Bnei Yisrael. The fact that Shabbat is ours - we take it home, we take it wherever we go. We make Shabbat and keep it, in the most comfortable settings and in difficult times as well. Mikdash is in that Special Place when it is there, and we strive to internalize its sanctity but Shabbat has been with us constantly ever since we became a nation. Even a bit earlier than that. Imagine how great things will be when we can combine Sanctity of Time & Place!