The modern Mishkan in Shilo
The modern Mishkan in ShiloBy INN

Our Parasha opens by relating that (35:1-3):’ויקהל משה: Moshe assembled the entire assembly of Bnei Israel and said to them:These are the things that Hashem commanded to do’ to keep the Shabbat.’Moshe said to the entire assembly of Bnei Israel, saying:’This is the word that Hashem has commanded, saying:Take from yourselves an offering for Hashem, everyone whose heart motivates him shall bring it, as the gift for Hashem: gold..’, all the commands that Hashem had previously - in Parshiot Teruma and Tetzave - given to Moshe Rabbeinu, for the construction of a Mishkan, in which the shechina would reside, in the midst of the people.

Rashi! comments:’And Moshe assembled’: on the day following Yom Hakippurim, when he descended from the mountain.’

The Ramban adds:’Since all the people - men and women - contributed to the work of the Mishkan, and Moshe, after he commanded Aaron and the nesiim and Bnei Israel all that Hashem had spoken to him on the mountain after he shattered the Tablets, and Moshe covered his face with a covering, he returned to command, and all of the congregation assembled around him, men and women, and this might have been on the day following his descent; and he told all of them the matter of the Mishkan which he himself had been commanded initially, before the shattering of the Tablets, as, since they had again found favor before Hashem, and He gave Moshe the second Luchot, and entered with him into a new covenant that He would go in their midst, they thereby returned to their earlier standing and love before Hashem, and ,knowing that His shechina would dwell in their midst, as had been commanded earlier, as it said (25:5):’And make for Me a Mikdash and I will dwell in your midst’, and therefore Moshe now commanded them all that he himself had initially been commanded.’

A beautiful Midrash sweetens the connection between this assembly, and Yom Kippurim - the Day of Atonement - saying: ’Happy are the tzadikim who know how to make a compromise between Israel and their Heavenly Father! Therefore Moshe Rabbeinu said ויקהל: ‘and they assembled’: Let ‘and make for Me a Mikdash’ come, and atone for the making of the calf..let the assembly of Moshe Rabbeinu, as it says:’Moshe assembled the entire assembly of Bnei Israel’, atone for the assembly of Aaron, as it is written ויקהלו :’the people assembled around Aaron’.. let the words אלה הדברים:’These are the things..’ atone for the saying:אלה אלוהיך’These are your gods O Israel; let ,the giving of the gold for the Mishkan, atone for the giving of the gold for the calf.’

The Alshich Hakadosh expounds on this wondrous Midrash:’In His great mercy, Hashem, like a loving father, returned to love us, and to again draw us near to Him, and returned his shechina to our midst.To openly show this, He returned to dwell in our midst, as proof that He had forgiven us, and that we had again found favor before Him, and, as a sign of forgiveness of the transgression, he commanded that there be taken from us gold and all the other precious items, to give us the zechut that He would reside in our handiwork.

‘And! if the gold they gave for the calf was but of one kind, and led to separation, now their offering should be much greater, and they should bring thirteen kinds of materials - an allusion to One: thirteen in gematria - to return to unity.

‘In summary, the whole of Hashem’s wish in the offerings of the Mishkan was as an atonement for the sin of the calf, to thereby again cleave to Hashem.

‘This necessitated three things for the healing of the damaged soul, as in the healing of any physical ailment: First, that it ‘resemble’ the sin; Second: to distance the cause of the sin, and: Third, to be completely free of anything that resembled sin.

‘As to the first, the words:’Moshe assembled..’, as in the sin, ‘the people assembled around Aaron’; as to the second, to remove the cause, and this is why we read that it says:’the entire assembly of Bnei Israel’, not the erev rav, who were the cause of their transgression; and, as against the third, that no element of sin should touch their atonement, they were therefore commanded not to desecrate the Shabbat.’

Rav David Hofstedter sees a further, separate reason for the assembly of ‘the entire assembly of Bnei Israel’, noting that:’ The sin of the golden calf caused for a separation within the people, as the sinner removes himself from the clal, and, for this reason, Moshe Rabbeinu had to again unite all the people, so that the shechina should again dwell in their midst.

‘Therefore, the assembly of all the people as one, had an additional purpose: to return them to again be a clal, because that, in itself, is able to lead to atonement for transgressions - as we say on Yom Kippurim:’We permit the transgressors to pray together with us’, meaning that the restrictions imposed upon them, removing them from the clal, are removed on that day, and they can once again to be a part of the clal, and, as a result, they attain atonement and forgiveness.

‘For this reason, Moshe Rabbeinu assembled all of the people before he gave them the command to construct the Mishkan, so that all should be part of the clal, thereby completing the atonement for separation wrought by the transgression of the golden calf - an essential condition for the shechina to dwell in the Mishkan.’

The Kli Yakar adds: the assembly was to allude to peace between the people, expounding:’As he wanted to give them the command to construct the Mishkan, in which all were to be partners - in which, as it were, all were to dwell in one compartment - it was necessary to first assemble them, so that they should be as one entity.

‘This is the reason that Rashi comments that this occurred on the morrow of Yom Kippurim, as all their encampments were in disputation, except for the one immediately preceding Matan Torah, where, they camped ‘as one man with one heart’.

‘But how can they now again be raised to this level, and what is the occasion which is best suited to achieve this?

‘The answer Moshe Rabbeinu found was: the morrow of Yom Kippurim, as on that day every-one has made peace with one another, and all are as one entity, and it was therefore the most propitious day to assemble them all.

‘We find an allusion to this, in our psukim (35:3):’You shall not kindle fire in any of your dwellings’, as on the Sabbath, when the people are ‘idle’ from their labors, we need to take greater care that disputes do not enter their minds.

‘Therefore, Moshe’s words were well said:’And he assembled’: he assembled them to be as one entity, by his adjurement ‘do not kindle fire’.’

Rav Aryeh Leib Heiman asked rhetorically :’’Why does our Parasha open with the word ויקהל: ‘assembled’?

‘The answer can be found in the preceding Parasha - Parashat Ki Tissa - where we read that the people, seeing that Moshe had not returned, assembled on Aaron: ויקהל העם על אהרן, demanding that he make a substitute for the absent Moshe.

‘For the first time in the history of our people, the Torah relates that the people assembled, and, to our shame - they assembled to sin; true, only a minority, and they the lesser members of the people, actually assembled on Hur and Aaron, but - at the same time - there was not one person who rose to protest, the unfaithfulness of the people to their leaders making their name a mockery in the eyes of the nations.

‘When Bnei Israel came to atone for this sin, we have a principle that the atonement has to be in the same ‘coinage’ as the sin, and, as our Sages learn, even in the same language.

‘Therefore, as against the transgression of ויקהל העם: ‘and the people assembled’, the atonement had to be in the same style:ויקהל משה: ‘and Moshe assembled..’

‘This is not simply a matter of language , but since the first time that the Torah uses this concept: קהל, for the assembly of many people for a common purpose, it has the power to conquer hearts, entering our very psyche; the repair for this, therefore, is to use the power of ‘in multitude of people, is the glory of the King’ ( Mishlei 14:28 ).

‘Instead of the transgressing of Hashem’s mitzvot by many - to sanctify His Name in the presence of many.

‘In the sin of the golden calf, ‘these are your gods’ was said, instead of:’To be for you a G-d’ - and, as a result, an unparalleled Divine Anger arose, that sought to destroy even those that did not transgress - even the Leviites who later arose and killed he transgressors!

‘Why? Because, whilst it is true that only a minority actually sinned in the episode of the golden calf, in a transgression so grievous and fundamental, all should have arisen immediately, and objected; by not doing so, they enabled the transgression, and therefore the Attribute of Strict Justice sought to destroy them all.

‘We can now understand why Moshe preceded the commandment of constructing the Mishkan, at the beginning of our Parasha, with the mitzva of observing the Shabbat. Our Sages teach (Shabbat 118:)

’Whoever observes the Shabbat fully as commanded, even if he served idolatry like the generation of Enosh, is forgiven.’

‘Therefore, after the transgression of the golden calf - there is no more apt atonement than observing the Shabbat.

‘Whatis the underlying connection between the two? Because the one ‘whoever observes the Shabbat’, is bearing testimony on the One who said ‘and there was the world’- the One who created the world in six days, and rested on the seventh.

‘This is the atonement of the one who ‘admitted’ to another deity.

‘Therefore, Hashem commanded Moshe Rabbeinu to assemble the people each Shabbat - as our Sages say, on the opening words of our Parasha - to teach them the laws of Shabbat, because observing the Shabbat is THE atonement for the sin of the golden calf - for ‘the people assembling on Aaron’.’

A concluding gem from the Kli Yakar, in his sefer ‘Ir Giborim’.

He brings the Midrash, as to this command being an atonement for the sin of the golden calf, and elucidates:’Let אלה הדברים : ‘these are the things’ come and atone for אלה אלהיךישראל: ‘these are your gods O Israel’.

‘As our Sages say, observing Shabbat atones for idolatry, and this is what the Midrash alludes to in אלה הדברים, which alludes to the thirty-nine labors forbidden on Shabbat.

‘They deduce this (Shabbat 70.) from our pasuk, from the words ‘the things' together with ‘these’, which atone for ‘these are your gods O Israel’.’

The words ‘these are the things’, are in the plural,the least of which is a two; the preceding letter ה: ‘the’ adds an additional on, whilst the word אלה :’these’ has a numerical value of thirty-six - thirty-nine in total.

These words are immediately followed in our Parasha by the prohibituon of work on Shabbat, leading our Sages to conclude that there are thirty-nine e prohibited labors on Shabbat.

לרפואת כל הפצועים ולרפואת נועם עליזה בת זהבה רבקה ונחום אלימלך רפאל בן זהבה רבקה, בתוך שאר חולי עמנו.