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The Time

Before continuing with its regularly scheduled 5 parsha mishkan programming the Torah invokes Shabbos - highlighting yet again the Shabbos-Mishkan connection. In their convergence, one sees:

 

1. A nexus in holiness (of time and space)

2. A precise definition of melacha (one may not do on Shabbos what was deemed in the mishkan as work)

 

This second idea requires great study and creates a rich relationship between the Mishkan and Shabbos. Why indeed do we derive Shabbos-work from the Mishkan? A famous midrash relates that Hashem created the world with 39 labors. The implied notions: The world is a large mishkan and the mishkan is a mini world. In the former conception, one sees a world pregnant with holiness and in the latter concept, one realizes that from a very small place, worldwide ripples can be felt.

 

Paradoxically, these two analogous worlds also part company: Shabbos is a time where the world needs no [and may not have any] labor, whilst the Mishkan is a holy space that somehow does not need a full Shabbos [thus may one bring sacrifices and slaughter and light the Menorah on Shabbos].

 

It is the first concept which Rashi focuses upon to explain the Shabbos-Mishkan connection:

He [Moses] prefaced [the discussion of the details of] the work of the Mishkan with the warning to keep the Sabbath, denoting that it [i.e., the work of the Mishkan] does not supersede the Sabbath. -[from Mechilta]

 

Why the Mishkan- Shabbos connection? To teach that the Shabbos conquers Mishkan.

There's an obvious question here: Shabbos simply does not lose - to anything. All in all, five halachos push away Shabbos: Pikuach nefesh (saving a human life), Bris Milah (circumcision), Avodah (sacrifices), Kiddush HaChodesh (declaring the new moon) and Ketziras HaOmer (cutting the omer stalks). Each time an explicit source is needed.

 

Why does the Torah never record that one may not pick an esrog [off a tree] or build a sukkah on Shabbos? Because it is obvious. In a world of competing priorities, mighty Shabbos always wins; We may then wonder what must the Torah record that Shabbos beats building of  the Mishkan?

 

Herein 2 answers given in Rishonim:

1. We learned that Avodah docheh shabbos - the Kohen "violates" Shabbos in the context of serving within the Mishkan/Mikdash. Every Shabbos, he slaughters and burns the daily and special Shabbos communal offerings; he burns incense on the altar and he lights the menorah. This might indicate that Mishkan sanctity supersedes Shabbos holiness, thus permitting Mishkan construction even on Shabbos - thus the Torah needs to teach us that within the Mishkan Shabbos is overridden - but not to build the Mishkan

2. Since the Mishkan ... symbolized connecting with Hashem and the resting of His presence ... we might have thought this activity outweighed all other Torah obligations ... and certainly Shabbos rest. This is especially true with a such a sacred mitzvah as building the Mishkan ... also actual work is a greater testimony than stopping work ... something that exists is greater testimony than that which does not

In this latter notion - found in Abarbanel, we might have thought that the active kedusha of Mishkan would trump the passive (no melacha) kedusha of Shabbos. Hence the Torah must explicitly warn us: No!  One may not build the Mishkan on Shabbos.

 

This point is so powerful, that we must probe the ultimate notion [to the best of finite human ability]: Why indeed does passive Holy Shabbos beat the active Holy Mishkan?

 

Herein one final thought, but first a story from The Meister Plan - a book written by Dr. Tuvia Meister that presents a compelling prescription for financial security and success in learning :

Talmud Bavli can be learned not only in the beis medrash but also on the lines at Israeli banks, on lines in Super Markets ...and in countless other places. When I finally approached the last page of Talmud Bavli I wanted to learn it in a holy place so I decided to finish the last daf in the beis midrash of Ner Yisrael ... on the momentous day I went to do some errands before continuing to the yeshiva ... to the Baltimore public library to quickly look up something in the latest issue of Money magazine. Someone else was reading the issue I needed so I patiently sat down to wait ... I took out my Bavli and started learning ... I was sitting there longer than expected ... so much to my surprise and chagrin I actually finished Talmud Bavli in the public library .. for years this sort of upset me .... I had wanted to earn the last daf in a holy place ... I was crestfallen that my momentous completion of Bavli occurred in a public library ... a few years ago... I mentioned [to a lawyer] ... how that had always bothered me ... it is the opposite you showed Hashem that wherever you are instead of wasting time , you learn Torah .... Anybody can finish Shas Bavli in a beis midrash but it is extra special that you finished in the public library.... I had never thought of it that way before

Ask 9 out of ten Jews to describe Mishkan/Mikdash and they will say holy-kodesh. For those of us who link holiness to things and space, the Torah has a surprise - for it uses the word Kodesh for the first time in the Torah, (a leading indicator of its essential meaning) describing Shabbos Bereishis, 2:3:

Vayivarech Elokim es yom hashevi'i vayikadeish oso

 

For as holy as any place/space is - it is constricted. And that dare not be. Yes Eretz Yisrael has a greater presence of the Shechina and then Yerushalayim and then the Beis HaMikdash and then the Kodesh and then the Kodesh Hakadoshim ---- but then what?  

 

What of those that can not be in the Kodesh Hakodashim or the Kodesh or the Mikdash .... Or Eretz Yisrael? The kedusha of z'man, whose notion is most greatly epitomized and encapsulated by Shabbos emerges victorious, for it reminds and empowers us that one need/dare not constrict holiness to a particular place.

 

Every moment then is pregnant with potential kedusha to bring into the world. The thinking Jew must constantly wonder, at this moment how can I connect with Hashem? In the car, one may ask , who should I call to thank; walking down the street, one may ponder Hashem's beautiful world; lying in a sickbed, unable to move and perhaps unable to talk - one can still think and contemplate of Hashem and of the infinite gifts He has bestowed upon us. To the extent that I think Torah, Avodah and Chesed - wherever I am, so is He.

Good Shabbos
Asher Brander


 
   
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