In Parshat Pekudei, we read about the completion of the building of theMishkan (Tabernacle.) After everything is finished, Hashem tells Moshe(39:2) “In the first month, on the first day you will erect the Mishkan,the Tent of Meeting.” The next fourteen pasukim (verses) contain afinal description of everything that was made for the Mishkan–includingthe vessels, the outer structure and the clothing. Then it says (40:17)”And in the first month, in the second year, on the first day of themonth, the Mishkan was erected.” The following pasuk says (40:18) “AndMoshe erected the Mishkan.” The obvious question is: Why is there somuch repetition? Couldn’t we have done without the last pasuk and justbe told about Hashem’s command to set up the Mishkan and then the actualconfirmation that it was set up? In addition, why does the second pasuksay that the Mishkan “was set up”–using the passive tense?
The Zohar (main book of Kabbalah, 235) says that when the Mishkan wascompleted, the Jews wanted to see if Hashem’s Presence would really restin it so they told the artisans to erect the Mishkan. The artisanstried to set it up, but the Mishkan would not remain upright. The Jewsthen went over to the head craftsmen, Betzalel and Ahaliav, and toldthem to erect the Mishkan. Betzalel and Ahaliav attempted to set it up,but to no avail. When the Jews saw this, some of them began to exclaim”Look at what that son of Amram (i.e. Moshe) told us to do! Heconvinced us to waste our time and money in building this Mishkan bytelling us that it would house Hashem’s Presence, but it doesn’t evenstay up!” The Jews then approached Moshe bringing the vessels of theMishkan with them, and said, “We have done everything you asked us todo, so why are we unable to erect the Mishkan? Even the artisans andthe head-craftsmen were unable to make it stand!” Upon hearing this,Moshe got very worried that the Mishkan would not be set up. But Hashemcame to Moshe and said, “I did this purposely because I want YOU to setup the Mishkan. And if you wonder how you will be able to do it on yourown, know that I am going to help you.”
Now we understand why the Torah mentions all three pasukim. In thefirst pasuk, Hashem is telling Moshe that he alone is to set up theMishkan, not the artisans or craftsmen. But that pasuk only containsthe command. When it comes to the actual setting up of the Mishkan, thesecond pasuk comes to tell us that the Mishkan was really set up byitself (i.e. by Hashem) and the third pasuk tells us that Moshe also hada part in setting it up. The question that remains is: why was Moshethe only one who merited to help erect the Mishkan?
Kli Yakar (R. Shlomo Efraim of Luntchitz) says that the three pasukimare coming to teach us a fundamental lesson, which is that human beingsare limited and thus the actions that we perform are limited as well.In other words, our actions really only begin a certain process, whichwe are unable to finish without the help of Hashem. Even with regardto our Yetzer Hara (evil inclination) the Rabbis say that if Hashem didnot help us, we could not withstand it. Thus, Hashem did not want theJews or the craftsmen to set up the Mishkan, in order to teach them thelesson that Hashem is the only One who completes what human beingsbegin.
As to why Moshe was allowed to help erect the Mishkan, Kli Yakar saysthat the world was created in the merit of Moshe. The proof to this isthat the first pasuk of the Torah says (1:1) “Bereishit (translated as’for Reishit’) Hashem created the world”, and there is a place in theTorah where the word “Reishit” is used in reference to Moshe. Inaddition, we are told by the Midrash (Oral Tradition) that the Mishkancorresponds to the world because it was built in the format of the sixdays of Creation. For example, the curtains which covered the top ofthe Mishkan correspond to the Heavens which are called “curtains” (Psalm104). The sink represents the waters which covered the earth. TheMenorah represents the luminaries. The Earthen Altar (on which animalswere sacrificed) represents animals. The Cherubim on the Aron withtheir wings spread, represents birds. Etc. So according to Kli Yakar,Moshe merited to establish the Mishkan which is compared to the world,because in his merit the world was established.
Since the deeper lesson of the Mishkan is that we human beings arelimited and that we need Hashem to complete our actions, Moshe is theperfect person to represent this idea. Who more than Moshe would be indanger of forgetting this important lesson as he brought plagues onEgypt, split seas, got Manna from the sky, etc. And yet, despite thefact that Moshe did all this he never forgot that he was merely anintermediary of Hashem and that he only began what Hashem carriedthrough. Since Moshe exemplified this idea of being dependent onHashem, he was the perfect person to erect the Mishkan.
The greatest challenge for human beings is to realize that we are notall-powerful. What better time to bring this idea home to the Jews thanafter they helped build the most exquisite piece of artwork ever made.The message here is that even though we can accomplish a great deal, wecannot do it alone. For some, this can be a frustrating thought. Butperhaps Hashem is really saying the following:
“Good morning, this is G-d. Today, I will be handling all of yourproblems. Please remember that I do not need your help. If lifehappens to deliver a situation to you that you cannot handle, do notattempt to resolve it. Kindly put it in the “something for G-d to do”box. It will be addressed in My time, not yours. Once the matter isplaced into the box, do not hold onto it or remove it. Holding on orremoval will delay the resolution of your problem. If it is a situationthat you think you are capable of handling, please consult Me in prayerto be sure that it is the proper resolution.
Because I do not sleep, nor do I slumber, there is no need for you tolose any sleep. Rest my child. If you need to contact me, I am only aprayer away.”