Parshas Vayakhel; Shabbes & Mishkan/Beis HaMikdash : Our sedra opens with the relating of the commandment of Shabbes, quickly followed by the topic of the Mishkan - the forerunner of the Beis HaMiksash. In fact, this is not the first time these two topics appear together. In Ki Sisa, Shabbes comes immediately after HaShem’s announcing the identity of the builders of the mishkan (31), and the Torah juxtaposes them in one pasuk - ‘keep my Shabbes, and fear my Mikdash, I am HaShem’ (Vayikra 19;30). Why does the Torah couple Shabbes and the Mishkan/Beis Hamikdash? Let’s delve into this subject via another question. [The following comes mostly from R’ Pinkus, originally from R’ Avigdor Miller.] The halacha is that if Tisha B’Av falls on Shabbes, one can eat, drink, and be merry, and we push Tisha B’Av to Sunday (10th Av). What is the reason for this; Tisha B’Av is the one day a year that we wake up to the reality that life without a Beis Hamikdash is akin to spiritual death (Gra), and the five major national tragedies [eg destruction of the Temples] were on the 9th, not 10th?

The question is a bit deeper; we know that times of the year in the Jewish calendar bring about certain qualities. For example, Adar is synonymous with simcha, Nissan with freedom due to Pesach, Elul/Tishrei with Teshuva, and mid-Tamuz to mid-Av with mourning/ sadness because of all the tragedies that occurred on those days. The idea that the quality of the date did not occur because of the event, but that the date itself carried with it that quality well before the event took place. For example, we said that the month of Nissan is synonymous with freedom, for Pesach occurs therein. But it is not because Pesach occurred in Nissan that creates Nissan’s quality of freedom, but rather that the month of Nissan itself is integrally linked with the concept of freedom even before the Exodus from Egypt. This is best demonstrated by the fact that Lot (nephew of Avraham Avinu) ate matzos at Pesach (Rashi Bereishis 19;3), even though it was centuries before the Exodus, because the matzos themselves were part of the concept of Nissan - freedom - which is imbued integrally within that month even before our Exodus took place. And so the ‘redemption’ of Sarah being told that she would give birth took place on Pesach, and Yitzchak Avinu was indeed born on Pesach (Rashi Bereishis 18;10). Taking this concept on board, Tisha B’av itself is linked with mourning, so why, if it falls on Shabbes, do we push it off to the 10th Av, which is less integrally linked with mourning than the 9th?

The answer is that the closeness between us and HaShem via the Beis Hamikdash in the dimension of space is mirrored by the closeness of Shabbes in the dimension of time. In short Shabbes is the Beis Hamikdash. This is why we cannot mourn for the loss of closeness caused by the destruction of the Beis Hamikdash on Shabbes; for we have that same closeness/Beis HaMikdash called Shabbes. And this is also why Shabbes is often mentioned in tandem with the Mishkan Let’s give several examples of their symmetries…

Firstly, before doing service in the Beis Hamikdash, the Kohannim were obligated to wash their hands and feet, but the custom was that they washed their entire bodies. So too, on Friday in our Shabbes preparations we are obligated to wash our feet and hands (and perhaps faces), but we have all taken on the custom to have a full shower - to wash our entire bodies. Furthermore, the lighting of the menorah in the Mikdash comprised of two mitzvos. The first is hatavas haneiros and comprised of cleaning out the candle-holders and making sure the candles were put into place well. The second is hadlakas haneiros, and involved the physical lighting of those candles. So too in our lighting candles for Shabbes there are two parts; the preparing of the wicks/putting the candles in place - which is normally done by the husband (and apparently it is a big kabbalistic merit for the husband to do this), and the wife lights the candles. In addition, both Shabbes and the Bies Hamikdash share the aspect of shirah (‘song’) - the leviim sung their daily songs in the Beis Hamikdash, and on Shabbes we have the ‘mizmor shir leyom hashabbes,’ as well as the Shabbes zemiros.

But perhaps more striking is the parallel of the easiness/severity of desecrating Shabbes and the Beis Hamikdash. In the Beis Hamikdash, one could receive punishment of death for the smallest act. For example, if a Kohen had a stain on his special clothes in which he used to do the service, he would receive the death penalty if he then did service with those clothes on. And the same would go for a Kohen whose ‘service-clothes’ were not of a perfect fit - if they were too big or too tight. So too on Shabbes can one obtain the death penalty for the smallest of acts; flicking a switch, pulling out some hair, etc. The reason for this ‘severity’ is that just like in a heart operation, the smallest mistake can have terrible consequences c’v’s [for the heart is a central organ to life] so too in that which is the heart of spiritual life, the smallest acts of transgression can have severe consequences. And Jerusalem/Mikdash is the heart of the world, for (apart from its geographical centrality), Rashi (Kohelles) notes that Shlomo HaMelech managed to plant every species of fruit in Jerusalem. How, if some fruits need to grow in certain climates and nutrition which are not found in Jerusalem? For, as Rashi points out, other countries receive their life from Jerusalem (the heart), and Shlomo Hamelech with his wisdom was able to ascertain exactly which part of Jerusalem contained the roots for which part of the world - and was thus able to plant each fruit in its fitting place. Whilst, Shabbes, too, is a heart of the spiritual world - it is our paying witness to HaShem’s Creation of the world, and ‘the honour bestowed to HaShem when one keeps Shabbes is greater than all other mitzvos’ (Tosfos Yevamos 5b ‘kulcheim’)

A further parallel between Shabbes and the Beis Hamikdash concerns the ownership of the utensils used to serve HaShem in both places. If one were to take a bit of the olah sacrifice and use it to marry a girl, this would not be valid, for HaShem owns that bit of korban meat - it is not your property. A similar idea exists on Shabbes - regarding the money spent for adorning the Shabbes, HaShem tells us ‘borrow from my account and I’ll pay’ (gemarra Beitzah 15b/16a). As the gemarra also puts it, that any money one spends for Shabbes will be repaid to them (as long as its reasonable in the circumstances; sha’ar hatzion 242;12). In other words, HaShem pays for our Shabbes expenditure, and thus to a certain extent the Shabbes food - just like the sacrifice meat - belongs to HaShem, not us, for He pays for it. Similar to this is the opinion of the Ramchal that one does not make a bracha over his tallis on Yom Kippur, because the tallis on that day belongs to HaShem, not you, and one does not make a bracha over a borrowed tallis. And Yom Kippur is referred to in the Torah as ‘the Shabbes of Shabbeses;’ Vayikra 23;32. Lastly, this allows a new explanation to an old question regarding something we say each Friday night. During the ‘shalom aleichem’ to the angels of Shabbes, we tell the angels to leave in peace. Why do we tell them to go so soon after welcoming them in? The Chofetz Chaim would answer that we are telling the angels of the week to leave. But based on the above, Rav Pinkus offered an alternative answer. The Torah says regarding the atoning service on Yom Kippur in the Mishkan that ‘no person is to be in the Ohel Moed’ during this service (Vaykira 16;17). And since Shabbes parallels the Mishkan/Mikdash, just like in the mishkan HaShem wants everyone out, so too on Shabbes does HaShem want every angel out of our houses so He can have a direct connection/relationship with us on that day, Have a great Shabbes,

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