When Moshe Had Finished the Work
This Shabbat will close out Shemot (Exodus) in preparation for VaYikra (Leviticus).
This week’s parsha opens with a general synopsis of all the previous chapters concerning the holiness of Shabbat and the materials needed for the construction of the Tabernacle and Tent of Meeting.
“Thus the Israelites, all the men and women whose minds moved them to bring anything for the work that Adonai, through Moshe, had commanded to be done, brought it as a freewill offering to Adonai.” Shemot (Exodus) 35:29
As stated in earlier portions of Shemot, overseeing the entire operation was thirteen year old Bezalel, son of Uri, son of Hur of the tribe of Judah — following the blueprint given to Moshe by HaShem on Mount Horeb in the Sinai. It is at this point we are reminded of the name of the on-site foreman (vice-architect) — Oholiab son of Ahisamach of the tribe of Dan. For the same reason HaShem chose a young Bezalel, he chose Oholiab. While he was not a child Oholiab came from the lowest tribe and was a descendant of Bilhah, a handmaiden, thereby showing the people that it is not by the might and power, or wisdom of man but it is the hand of HaShem Who was the true Architect and Supervisor over the building of His Tabernacle.
“Let then, Bezalel and Oholiab and all the skilled persons whom Adonai has endowed with skill and ability to perform expertly all the tasks connected with the service of the sanctuary carry out all that Adonai has commanded.” Shemot (Exodus) 36:1
So overwhelmed with joy and enthusiasm for being allowed to participate with offerings toward the construction and maintenance of HaShem’s Tabernacle the people ended up giving far more than was needed to complete the project. Moshe had to eventually let the people know they could stop bringing their donations as enough had been obtained for all the tasks to be done.
We find in Chapter 37 that thirteen year old Bezalel himself was given the honored duty of making the Ark of the Covenant to HaShem’s exact instructions. The Ark of acacia wood was approximately four feet long, two feet wide and two feet high; inlaid inside and out with pure gold. Bezalel was also tasked with making the table of presentation, the Menorah and the Incense Altar. As well as, all the utensils used in Holiest of Holies and The Holy Place.
The remainder of Shemot completes and ends the accounting of the construction of the Tabernacle, priestly vestments and vessels used in the service of Adonai in His earthly dwelling among His people, Israel.
As reflected upon by our Sages of Blessed Memory, particularly the Rambam — this Tabernacle was not only a meeting place between HaShem and His people, Israel, it served as the seat of teaching His commandments since the Tablets of the Law were contained within the Ark of the Covenant; it also reflected Israel’s physical needs of sustenance in fleshly bodies and HaShem’s provision of those needs by the Table of Presentation of the loaves; Israel’s commission to spread the light of HaShem’s Torah as represented by the Menorah and the necessity of prayer and communion with Adonai reflected by the Altar of Incense standing before the entranceway into the very Presence of HaShem in the Holy of Holies upon the cover (mercy seat) of the Ark of the Covenant. The radiance from the Ark moving throughout the entire Sanctuary (the pillar of fire and smoke) and touching the life of every Israelite who is called to take that light out to the world — tikkun olam: or, according to the Rambam — this light is the reflected holiness of HaShem upon each Jew.
“When Moshe had finished the work, the cloud covered the Tent of Meeting, and the Presence of Adonai filled the Tabernacle.” Shemot (Exodus) 40:33-34
Until next time — Shalom.