The Kuzari asks what the difference between the Mishkan and the egel haza’hav is; both were (golden) structures which were intended to have the effect of bringing HaShem’s Presence within the people -

yet one was the structure which housed HaShem’s Presence and the other was the greatest sin in history. Where does the difference between the two lie? The Kuzari answers that the only difference is that HaShem commanded us to make the Mishkan, but not the egel.

The depth of this answer is via something the Beis HaLevi points out in Ki Sissa. He says that the Mishkan was deserved of HaShem’s Shechinah because HaShem’s commands were followed in its construction. Whilst since HaShem did not command the egel, there are no positive spiritual effects that result from its

construction, and the result is that the egel becomes like an idol instead of a vehicle for HaShem’s Presence to ‘descend.’

In other words, no Shechinah comes down if you are not following a command of HaShem; one cann only affect the higher worlds if one is acting out HaShem's command. The Beis HaLevi then goes back to answer a central question to the psukim of Vayakhel; why is the phrase ‘just as HaShem commanded Moshe’ repeated so many times in parshas Pekudei?

The answer is because the core of the sin of chet ha’egel was that they did that which HaShem did not command, and the Mishkan was to atone for chet ha’egel, then the Torah is stressing and re-stressing that when it came to the Mishkan, each and every detail was done exactly as Hashem had commanded. Indeed, even if one disagrees with Rashi on the Mishkan being to atone for chet ha’egel (as the Ramban does disagree), one can still borrow this idea of the Beis HaLevi - the repetition of the words ‘as HaShem had commanded’ is to stress the distinction between the Mishkan and the egel.

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