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Breaking to Build

By: Esther Grossman

Our Parsha opens up with the following verse:

״ויהי ביום השמיני קרא משה לאהרן ולבניו ולזקני ישראל״  )ויקרא ט:א(

And it was on the eighth day, Moshe called to Aharon, and to his sons and to the elders of Israel.

Rashi points out that “the eighth day” was the eighth day of the inauguration of the Mishkan, which fell out on Rosh Chodesh Nissan. In Parshas Naso we describe this time of the inauguration of the Mishkan as follows:

״ויהי ביום כלות משהלהקים את המשכן״ (במדבר ז:א)

And it came to pass on the day that Moshe had finished setting up the Mishkan.

It’s pointed out that the posuk reads "ביום כלות״, the day he finished and not "ביום הקים", the day he erected, to teach us that all שבעת ימי המילואים, the prior seven days, Moshe would construct and then deconstruct the Mishkan. However, on the eighth day, "ביום כלות״, once he finished the assemblage of the Tabernacle, it stood without being dismantled and this day was Rosh Chodesh Nissan, the day of חנוכת המשכן, the dedication of the Mishkan. So beginning the 23rd of Adar (this coming shabbos), for seven days straight, Moshe would build and then take apart the Mishkan each day, until came the eighth day Rosh Chodesh Nissan (next shabbos) and then it stood without being broken down.

The question begs to be asked, why was this necessary? Couldn’t the Mishkan be built on the 23rd of Adar and then for the following seven days Moshe could practice all the avodah to teach Aharon, his sons and the elders and then come Rosh Chodesh, the eighth day it would be the real deal, with Aharon and his sons taking over? Was all the extra work really necessary?

Rav Baruch Simon offers a beautiful explanation based off of the Midrash Tanchuma on Parshas Pekudei. The Midrash quotes Tehillim (26:8):

״ה׳ אהבתי מעון ביתך״,

G-d, I love the habitation of Your house.

Essentially the Mishkan/Mikdash, HaShem’s dwelling place, is parallel to this world, our dwelling place. The paroches (the divider between the Kodesh and Kodesh Kedoshim) is similar to the Rakia (the heavens/firmament), the kiyor (washing basin) is like the waters, the Menorah is like our Meorot (the luminaries) and so on. “Building” off this idea, Rav Simon also quotes Bereishis Rabbah (3:7) that just like when הקב״ה created the world it took a few worlds being created and then destroyed until He arrived at the one we presently inhabit, the Mishkan had to be built and taken apart daily during the שבעת ימי המילואים to imitate this concept.

While the parallelism is definitely apparent there must be more to this then just a copy/paste. The Gemara in Pesachim (54a) relates to us that seven items preceded the creation of the world. One of these items is Teshuva, repentance. The Noam Elimelech (whose yahrtzeit is the 21st of Adar, perhaps today…) explains that the construction and destruction of worlds prior to our Olam HaZeh was to teach us the power of regret. A person can say something or do something and then regret that which he said or did. The capacity to correct oneself is available because the concept of Teshuvah pre-exists the world itself.

If we apply this concept to the Mishkan being built and broken down over and over again, the lesson of Teshuvah is also relevant, as one of the approaches to the necessity of the Mishkan was as an antidote to the sin of the golden calf. The need to build and take apart the Mishkan over and over again, underscores the necessity to work on correcting what we have done wrong. As the ערוגת הבושם, Arugot HaBosem, writes:

״רופא ה׳ לנשברי לב״ (תהלים לד:יט(

HaShem is near to them of a broken heart.

Through foiled plans and disappointment, we actually achieve a closeness to הקב״ה. Had Moshe Rabbeinu built the Mishkan on day one of the miluim and it stood until Rosh Chodesh, B’nei Yisrael may have thought they had already finished the teshuvah process from the golden calf, however, through the rebuilding and deconstruction done each day, B’nei Yisrael were able to forge a closer connection to HaShem where repentance was done more thoroughly and completely. The end result on Rosh Chodesh was meriting  השראת השכינה, HaShem coming to dwell in the Mishkan amongst B’nei Yisrael.

This shabbos is Parshas Parah, we read of the red heifer, whose ashes are used to purify those who have become impure. This process of rehabilitation is not simple. It takes time and preparation. We read this in advance of Rosh Chodesh Nissan so we may remember to prepare properly for offering the Korban Pesach. What's perplexing about the red heifer is that while it’s מטהר טמאים it simultaneously is מטמא טהורים - while purifying one person it is also contaminating another. This double duty perhaps is similar to the building/deconstructing lesson of the Mishkan during the miluim. Both steps are necessary for the full effect of the Parah Adumah’s potency.

This past week, Am Yisrael suffered the loss of Rav Chaim Kanievsky, ztz"l. He was an incredible Talmid Chacham who so many revered for his erudition and commitment to the Klal. With his petirah we are missing a true luminary guiding us and inspiring us. The incredible amount of Torah he would learn daily (every Erev Pesach he would make a siyum on all of Shas!) is astounding. His greeting to all who would stream through his home was restricted to בו"ה – ברכה והצלחה  so as not to waste precious speech and time, his sterling character and concern for the next Jew inspiring (for a family story, please reach out and I’ll share it). His passing is truly leaving a gaping hole amongst us. If we can utilize this loss as a means of building ourselves up-having a little more extra kavanah in our tefillos, a few extra minutes reciting tehillim, learning an additional paragraph, holding our tongue from speaking pejoratively about others, perhaps through this challenging time we can achieve a greater closeness to HaShem, just as the Mishkan always intended.

Shabbat Shalom to all.



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