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In different sources (Maggid HaRakiah, Inyanei Purim & Megilath Esther by Rav Daniel Glatstein, p. 65, ביני ובין בני ישראל, p. 41), the idea is echoed that the construction of the Mishkan (Tabernacle) corresponds to the creation of the world. This idea can also be found in the Midrash (Tanchuma, Pekudei 3), where it says that the mishkan was equal to the whole world (שֶׁהַמִּשְׁכָּן שָׁקוּל כְּנֶגֶד כָּל הָעוֹלָם).

On the posuk "ואת המשכן תעשה עשר יריעות, "And you shall construct the Tabernacle out of ten strips of cloth " (Shemos 26:1), the Or HaChaim Hakadosh explains that these ten strips of cloth are an allusion to the ten utterances from with the world was created.

The Torah wants to tell us that construction of the Tabernacle was as important to G'd as creation of the universe itself. Constructing the Tabernacle would also confer as much merit on the Israelites as if they had personally brought about the creation of the universe which was created by means of ten directives.

In relation to the creation of the world, Tehillim 104:2 is being connected to the construction of the Mishkan (Shemos 26:7).

However, are there other sources that explain why the construction of the Mishkan equals the creation of the world and why, as the Or HaChaim says, that the construction of the Tabernacle was as important to G-d as the creation of the world?

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  • The Mishkan is the "dira" in "Dira Betachton", which is the reason for the creation of the world, which likely explains the Or HaChaim HaKadosh.
    – Rabbi Kaii
    Apr 2 at 18:49
  • Thanks. Does this explain why the Shelah says: "Finally, in return for having constructed the Holy Ark to house the Torah, G–d promises all His goodness."? - does this means that G-d created the world so that men could toil in Torah - the Maor HaAfelah explains Adam was to cultivate the garden, e.g. Torah. Adam HaRishon sinned, so G-d wanted the Mishkan to continue the process? Is that a bold explanation?
    – Shmuel
    Apr 2 at 19:15
  • 1
    I’ve also heard that the language used when the mishkan was finished building (I think I’m Tezaveh) is very similar to the language used by Creation, and the rabbis say that creation wasn’t finished until the mishkan was built Apr 2 at 20:45
  • @CuriousYid The Shelah says: The completion of the work of creation was announced by the words: ויכלו השמים והארץ, whereas the completion of the work on the Tabernacle was described by the Torah as ותכל כל עבודת משכן (39,32). - and he quotes the Rabbeinu Bahya.
    – Shmuel
    Apr 2 at 21:05

2 Answers 2

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The Tzror HaMor, Shemos 25:23 deals with this concept at length. In short, he points to the fact that the world is made up of three parts which is echoed in the three parts of the Mishkan.

כתיב במעשה בראשית ויכולו וכתיב במשכן ותכל. להורות כי כמו שבפרשת ויכלו השמים רמוזים כל ג' עולמות. עולם המלאכים. ועולם הגלגלים. ועולם התחתונים. ולכן כתב ג' פעמים ביום השביעי כמו שכתבתי שם. כן במעשה המשכן רמוזים כל הג' עולמות. עולם העליון הוא כנגד לפני לפנים. ששם הארון והכרובים שהם פורשי כנפים למעלה. כמו שכתוב במלאכים שש כנפים לאחד. עולם האמצעי הוא עולם הגלגלים. כנגדו היה השלחן והמנורה שהם כנגד ד' המאורות שמש וירח וככבים והשמים יריקו טל ומטר. להוציא לחם ולערוך שלחן בלחם הפנים. וזהו והבדילה הפרוכת לכם בין הקדש ובין קדש הקדשים. עולם התחתונים הוא עולם ההויה וההפסד. כנגדו היה מזבח העולה ששם שוחטים ומקריבים הקרבנות. ולכן תמצא שהיה מקומו פתח אוהל מועד. דכתיב ואת מזבח העולה שם פתח המשכן אהל מועד. והכיור היה שם בין אהל מועד ובין המזבח ויתן שמה מים לרחצה. כי זה רמז לזה העולם שצריך האדם לרחוץ בו מטומאתו. לפי שהוא עולם המעשה. וכתיב רחצו הזכו והסירו רוע מעלליכם. בענין שיהיו מוכנים לבא אל עולם העליון. וז"ש שם בבואם אל אוהל מועד ובקרבתם אל המזבח ירחצו. ואם לא ירחצו בזה העולם שוב לא יאמרו מים מים משום שנאמר דובר שקרים בזה העולם שוב לא יכון לנגד עיני. כי מי שלא טרח בע"ש לא יאכל בשבת. ולכן כמו שכתוב שם ויכולו השמים והארץ וכל צבאם. שהוא רמז לכל ג' עולמות. כן אמר במשכן ותכל כל עבודת משכן אהל מועד. שזה רמז לכל הג' עולמות. ולכן אמר ה' אהבתי מעון ביתך. משום ששקול כנגד משכן כבודך. ומשכן כבודו הם כל הג' עולמות. כי פעמים נמצא בעולם העליון. ופעמים בעולם הגלגלים. ופעמים מלא כל הארץ כבודו. כמו שרמזתי בפ' בראשית על מלת בצלמו. ולכן בזאת הפ' כלולים כל אלו הדברים. ארון וכפרת וכרובים. שהם כנגד עולם העליון. ואח"כ שולחן ומנורה. כנגד עולם אמצעי. ואחר כך מזבח העולה. כנגד עולם התחתון. שהיה פתח משכן אהל מועד. ואח"כ חצר המשכן. שהוא כמו התחלה ליכנס למשכן

It writes by the creation of the world, "and they were finished" and it writes by the Mishkan, "and it was completed", to teach that just as with the parsha of the completion of the heavens (in Bereishis) hints to three worlds - namely, the world of angels, the world of reincarnations and the lower-based world, therefore, it writes three times "on the seventh day" like I wrote there. So too, with the creation of the Mishkan it hints to all of the three worlds. The upper world corresponds to the innermost part of the sanctuary - this was where the Ark and the Keruvim who spread their wings upwards, like it writes "each one with six wings". The middle world is the world of gilgulim (reincarnation). This corresponds to the shulchan and the menorah which corresponds to the four luminaries; the sun, moon, stars and the sky that brings forth dew and rain. To take out bread and to arrange the table with the showbread. This is the separation of the peroches - the curtain which separated the Sanctuary and the Holy of Holies. The lower world is the world of the present and that of loss. This corresponds to the altar of the burnt offerings where they slaughtered and offered sacrifices. Therefore, you find that this was where the entrance of the Tent of Meeting was. Since it writes "and the altar of the burnt offering was where the entrance of the Tent of Meeting was". The Kiyor (the basin) was there between the Tent of Meeting and between the altar and water to wash was placed there because this hints to this world where a person needs to wash from his state of impurity. Accordingly, this is the world of action. And it writes "wash them and remove evil from your deeds". With regards to them ascending to the upper world - this is what said there when they would come to the Tent of Meeting and when they approach the altar they will wash, and if they do not bathe in this, the world will never again say "water, water" because it is said, "He who speaks falsehood shall not be established before My eyes” (cf Chagigah 14b). Because he who did not bother themselves on Erev Shabbos will not eat on Shabbos. And therefore, as it is written there, the heavens and the earth and all their hosts were completed. And therefore, "Hashem - I love Your temple abode". Because the Mishkan of Your Honour is equal (to it). And the resting place of His glory are all three worlds. Because there are times where He is found in the upper world. And times in the world of reincarnation. And sometimes He fills the whole world with His glory. Like I hinted to in Parshas Bereshis with the word "in His image". Therefore, the parsha includes all there things: The Aron, Kapores and Keruvim - these correspond to the upper world. And after this (you have) the Shulchan and Menorah - corresponding to the middle world. And after this (you have) the altar of the burnt offering corresponding to the lower world which is the entrance of the Mishkan - the Tent of Meeting. And after this you have the courtyard of the Mishkan which marks the beginning point to enter into the Mishkan.

Note also the Shelah HaKadosh who also sees the Mishkan as being representative of the different segments that make up the world.

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  • I can't say I fully understand it, but also take a look at Rabbeinu Bachya, Shemos 38:21 - sefaria.org/…
    – Dov
    Apr 2 at 20:17
  • Interesting approach. Thanks. However, I have trouble understanding the somewhat kabbalistic (?) explanation of the Tzror HaMor. Could you maybe elaborate on the concepts discussed? "The upper world corresponds to the innermost part of the sanctuary" - this I understand. It is the most holiest of places, so it refers to the Heavens. But the rest I don't get.
    – Shmuel
    Apr 2 at 20:22
  • I am no expert in Kabbalah, the middle world corresponding to the world of gilgulim and its relation to the menorah and shulchan I am still mulling over, but I believe he is saying (my own additional interpretation) the lower world i.e. this planet and us humans living on it, is full of imperfections and impurities and as Jews we are brought into this world to be a kli for a neshomo. We have to try and right our wrongs, make ourselves pure when we stumble etc. and this corresponds to entrance of the Mishkan, the initial aspirational step that was taken to bring korbanos to correct their sins.
    – Dov
    Apr 2 at 20:35
  • 1
    Correct - you offer korbanos to correct the sins so likewise in this lower world we need to fix our wrongs etc
    – Dov
    Apr 2 at 21:21
  • 1
    Read here for a similar approach - chabad.org/parshah/article_cdo/aid/1314/jewish/…
    – Dov
    Apr 7 at 20:06
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From the Zohar - the image of the Mishkan was the same of that of the upper worlds.

[Meta: we should prefer primary sources over secondary]

וְכֻלְּהוּ תְּלָתָא רְמִיזִין בִּקְרָא דָּא, בְּרֵאשִׁית, הַיְינוּ דִּכְתִּיב בְּחָכְמָה. בָּרָא אֱלֹהִים, הַיְינוּ דִּכְתִּיב בִּתְבוּנָה. אֵת הַשָּׁמַיִם, הַיְינוּ דִּכְתִּיב בְּדַעַת. וְכֻלְּהוּ כְּתִיבֵי בַּעֲבִידַת מַשְׁכְּנָא. וּבְרָזָא דָּא כְּתִיב, אֵלֶּה פְקוּדֵי הַמִּשְׁכָּן, דָּא רָזָא דְּחָכְמָה. מִשְׁכַּן הָעֵדוּת, דָּא רָזָא דִּתְבוּנָה, אֲשֶׁר פֻּקַּד עַל פִּי מֹשֶׁה, דָּא רָזָא דְּדַעַת. וְכֹלָּא דָּא לָקֳבֵל דָּא, בְּגִין דְּכָל מַה דְּבָרָא קוּדְשָׁא בְּרִיךְ הוּא בְּעָלְמָא דֵּין, בָּרָא לֵיהּ כְּגַוְונָא דִּלְעֵילָּא. וְכֹלָּא אִתְרְשִׁים בַּעֲבִידַת מַשְׁכְּנָא.

https://www.sefaria.org/Zohar,_Pekudei_4.14

The reason for this is because of the principle: סוף מעשה במחשבה תחילה

Generally the organization of the upper worlds which are called מחשבה creates the lower worlds which are called מעשה. So just like the שכינה rests in the upper worlds (מלכות דאצילות) so too the שכינה of the lower worlds must rest the same way (עולם העשיה).

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  • Thanks but why? Care to provide an English translation too?
    – Shmuel
    Apr 3 at 7:12
  • My aramaic isnt good enough to translate the whole thing but towards the end it says that everything in this world was the same as the upper world. I will add a bit about why
    – zunior
    Apr 3 at 13:10

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