by HaRav Mordechai Greenberg
Nasi HaYeshiva, Kerem B'Yavneh
G-d sums up the command to build the Mishkan (Tabernacle) with the following words:
They shall make a Sanctuary for Me, so that I may dwell among them. Like everything that I show you, the form of the Mishkan and the form of all its vessels; and so shall you do. (Shemot 25:8-9) What did Hashem show Moshe on Har Sinai? Rashi explains that He showed Moshe "the form of the Mishkan," and that the command, "so shall you do," refers to the details of the vessels, that if any of them would be lost in the future, they should be remade in the same fashion. According to this interpretation, the verses should be rearranged to read as follows, "They shall make a Sanctuary for Me -- like everything that I show you -- so that I may dwell among them."
From the Beit Midrash of Volozhin, however, comes a different interpretation. What Hashem showed Moshe on Har Sinai was not the architecture of the Mishkan and physical details of its vessels, but the way in which the Shechina rests on the Mikdash. The Sifrei Machshava explain the statement of Chazal, "The Beit Hamikdash of our world corresponds to the Beit Hamikdash of above," to mean that the Mishkan encapsulates the structure and order of all the worlds. Similarly, the Midrash Tanchuma in the beginning of Parshat Pekudei states that the Beit Hamikdash corresponds to the entire creation, and notes a long list of similarities between the two. At the conclusion of the building of the Mishkan, the Torah writes: "All the work of the Mishkan was completed ("vateichel")" (39:32), "Moshe blessed ("vayevarech") them" (39:43), and "He anointed it and sanctified ("vayekadesh") it" (Bamidbar 7:1). This parallels what the Torah writes regarding the creation of the world: "The heavens and earth were completed ("vayechulu")" (Bereishit 2:1), and, "G-d blessed ("vayevarech") the seventh day and sanctified ("vayekadesh") it." (2:3)
Therefore, the Torah says about Bezalel, who built the Mishkan, "[G-d] filled him ... with wisdom, insight, and knowledge, and with every craft." (Shemot 35:31) The Midrash explains that Bezalel knew how to join the letters that G-d used to create heaven and earth, which were also created with wisdom, insight, and knowledge. This teaches that the creation of the world and the building of the Mishkan are one and the same.
When Hashem told Moshe, "so that I may dwell among them. Like everything that I show you," He showed Moshe the orders of the higher and lower worlds, their interrelationship, and what brings about the presence of Shechina. The Netziv explains, "so shall you do," to mean that those who build the Mishkan shall make it according to the "form" of the corresponding worlds. (Ha'amek Davar) Similarly, Chiram, who built the first Beit Hamikdash, was given wisdom and knowledge, in order to incorporate spiritual intent in building the Beit Hamikdash so that the Shechina would rest upon it. In the second Beit Hamikdash, in which the builders did not know how to incorporate this intent, the Shechina did not rest upon it, even though they knew all the physical details of the Beit Hamikdash.
In Nefesh Hachaim, Rav Chaim Volozhiner adds another dimension, that man is also arranged in this fashion. The Malbim on Parshat Teruma similarly comments that just as the world is called, "a large man," man is called, "a small world," because their powers and parts correspond to each other. Therefore, the presence of the Shechina is founded on man himself, and G-d's presence in the Mikdash is only a result of His presence in Yisrael, as Yirmiyahu says, "They are a Sanctuary of G-d." This is the deeper meaning of Chazal's comment that it does not say, "that I may dwell in it," but rather, "that I may dwell among them," within each and every Jew. Only after the Shechina rest on Yisrael does the presence of the Shechina rest on the Mikdash, and when Yisrael sin and the Shechina withdraws from them, the physical existence of the Mikdash does not help, for it is devoid of spiritual content. The command, "They shall make a Sanctuary for Me ... and so shall you do," means, "and so shall you do" to make yourselves; that you shall make yourselves like the form of the Mishkan, so that the Shechina will be able to rest upon you.
When we pray and ask several times daily, "May it be Your will ... that the Beit Hamikdash be rebuilt speedily, in our days," we should not only intend for the beautiful edifice to be built in Yerushalayim, but rather we should prepare ourselves to be worthy so that the Shechina will rest upon us, and, thereby, the Beit Hamikdash will be built speedily in our days!