In chapter Pekudei in "33. Now they brought the Mishkan to Moses, the tent and all its furnishings its clasps, its planks, its bars, its pillars and its sockets"

we have Rashi who comments:

Now they brought the Mishkan to Moses, etc.: Because they could not erect it. Since Moses had done no work in the Mishkan, the Holy One, blessed is He, left for him the task of erecting it [the Mishkan], since no human being could erect it [by himself] because of the heaviness of the planks; and no human was strong enough to put them up, but Moses [was able to] put it up. Moses said before the Holy One, blessed is He, “How is it possible for a human being to erect it [the Mishkan]?” He [God] replied, “You work with your hand.” He [Moses] appeared to be erecting it, and it arose by itself. This is [the meaning of] what it says: “the Mishkan was set up” (Exod. 40:17). It was set up by itself. [This is found in] the midrash of Rabbi Tanchuma. -[from Midrash Tanchuma 11]"

The questions are: Why only these comments? From where were taken the thoughts for these comments? Why can't the Jewish nation do this like others people did? Ok, we know that Moshe should take part in Mishkan construction. Why couldn't he take part as a normal worker or as the leader for the construction?

1 Answer 1


There seem to be two questions:

  1. Why couldn't the Jewish people put up the Mishkan?
  2. Why didn't Moshe work on the construction of the Mishkan?

1 is answered by the Midrash Tanchuma. Moshe was upset that he hadn't taken part in the construction, so...

אָמַר לוֹ הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא לְמֹשֶׁה, לְפִי שֶׁהָיִיתָ מֵצֵר שֶׁלֹּא הָיָה לְךָ עֲשִׂיָּה וְלֹא חֵלֶק בִּמְלֶאכֶת הַמִשְׁכָּן, לְפִיכָךְ לֹא יָכְלוּ אוֹתָן חֲכָמִים לְהַעֲמִידוֹ, בִּשְׁבִילְךָ, כְּדֵי שֶׁיֵּדְעוּ כָּל יִשְׂרָאֵל, שֶׁאִם עַל יָדְךָ אֵינוֹ עוֹמֵד, שׁוּב אֵינוֹ עוֹמֵד לְעוֹלָם, וְאֵינִי כוֹתֵב לוֹ הֲקָמָה אֶלָּא עַל יָדֶיךָ

the Holy One, blessed be He, told him: Moses, because you were unhappy over the fact that you did not share in the work of the building of the Tabernacle, these wise men are not able to erect it. Now Israel will know that if you do not erect it, it will never be set up. Have I not written previously that it would be done by you

The harder question, 2, that doesn't seem explained in this Midrash, is why didn't Moshe participate in the building of the Mishkan? This dvar Torah, when discussing the complementary question of "why did the Jewish people build it, rather than Moshe", offers an explanation based on the Beit Ha-Levi:

The problem is that this lack of participation, this passivity on the part of Am Yisrael in the process, causes them to take on the behavior of a spoiled child whose mother dotes on him and does everything for him, but when she is not around he is incapable of doing anything for himself. He does not even know what he is supposed to do.

Until now, the Benei Yisrael had been passive in everything. This wasn't ideal, and had led them to making a Golden Calf (the atonement of which was the Mishkan!), so now the time had come for them to "do it themselves", and Moshe sat back and let them.

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