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Rabbi Baruch Felberman,Former Rosh Kollel in Greater Washington (2021-2023) Currently, he teaches in seminaries and is a licensed Israeli tour guide.

In Parshat Vayakhel, we encounter the commandment to observe Shabbat followed by a recapitulation of the commandment and the description of building the Mishkan. It's intriguing to note that in Parshiot Truma through Ki Tisa, the order is reversed, with the commandment to build the Mishkan preceding the commandment to observe Shabbat. Why this change?

One explanation, offered by the Kli Yakar, aligns well with the opinion of the Ramban, who posits that the commandment to build the Mishkan was part of Hashem's original plan and not a response to the Sin of the Golden Calf. According to the Ramban, Parshat Vayakhel likely occurred on the 11th of Tishrei, the day after Yom Kippur, when Moshe received complete pardon from Hashem for the Sin of the Golden Calf and descended from Mount Sinai with the second set of commandments. This symbolizes a return to a loving status with God, despite the sin of the calf, and underscores that nothing has changed in our relationship.

But why the change in order? Just as we're taught to love our spouse as ourselves but honor our spouse above ourselves, משנה תורה לרמב"ם, ספר נשים, הלכות אישות, פרק ט"ו, הלכה י"ט)), the Kli Yakar explains that the Mishkan is a means for God to honor His beloved, the Jewish people, by resting His presence among them, visible to all nations. Shabbat, on the other hand, is how we honor God, testifying to the world that He created it.

Therefore, the order of the commandments reflects who is speaking: in Parshat Truma, where Hashem speaks, He prioritizes honoring His beloved, the Jewish people, by mentioning the Mishkan first. An afterthought is the mentioning of the Shabbat. In Parshat Vayakhel, where Moshe speaks on behalf of the Jewish people, he is most concerned about honoring God, hence he mentions Shabbat first. And only afterwards the building of the Mishkan.

A similar principle is observed in the commandment of placing the blood of the Passover sacrifice on the doorposts and lintel. Initially, Hashem mentions the doorposts first and then the lintel, while Moshe reverses the order. The Kli Yakar explains that the lintel (משקוף) represents Hashem, who watches over from above, as in the verse “Look down from your holy habitation, from heaven, and bless your people Israel, ,הַשְׁקִ֩יפָה֩ מִמְּע֨וֹן קׇדְשְׁךָ֜ מִן־הַשָּׁמַ֗יִם and the ground which you have given us, as you swore to our fathers, a land flowing with milk and honey." (Devarim 26,15).

The doorposts symbolize those who support the Jewish people, whether it be Moshe and Aharon, or the three Patriarchs. The Kli Yakar suggests, therefore, that when Hashem is speaking, He prioritizes mentioning the doorposts first, then the lintel, as an expression of His desire to honor His beloved. Conversely, when Moshe instructs the sages to relay this commandment to the Jewish people, he reverses the order, mentioning the lintel first and then the doorpost, thus honoring our beloved, Hashem, and relating to His honor first.

Through these subtle shifts in the order of commandments, we glean a profound lesson: despite our shortcomings, Hashem’s love for the Jewish people remains intact and ever-present, offering strength to persevere even in the face of great challenges. Shabbat shalom.

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