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Parshat Vayakhel - The Mishkan Can Wait

By: Talia Schnipper

This week's parsha, Parshat Vayakhel, discusses the actual construction of the Mishkan and its vessels. The Pesikta Rabati (Piska 6) quotes Rav Chanina saying that the physical preparations for the Mishkan were completed on the 25th of Kislev, but the opening ceremony was delayed until the 1st of Nissan. Why, after all the effort put in to completing the construction so early, did Moshe push off the inauguration? Imagine the frustration of all those who put in such long hours and hard work so that the Mishkan should start to function on the earliest possible date. What reason could Moshe have had to postpone offering all the korbanot - if the Mishkan was ready in Kislev?

Rav Chanina answers that Moshe wanted to merge the simcha of the inauguration of the Mishkan with the month in which Yitzchak was born - which was Nissan. This answers forces us to ask: what is the connection? Was this symbolic connection important enough to delay the opening of the Mishkan?

There is a message to be learned from akeidat Yitzchak and Moshe wanted Bnei Yisrael to apply that message to the Mishkan. Yitzchak was put onto the altar at the akeida with the intent to be sacrificed, but in the end he was not. Avraham had set a goal—to sacrifice his son—to fulfill the will of G-d. Avraham did all the preparations for the sacrifice, but was stopped short of its fulfillment. Yitzchak came to symbolize the "sacrifice" that never fulfilled its mission.

Through the story of akeidat Yitzchak, Moshe wanted to relay the message to Bnei Yisrael: when it comes to fulfilling our spiritual goal, what matters is the effort, not only the end result.

Moshe delayed the opening of the Mishkan by three months because he wanted Bnei Yisrael to realize the efforts they made in preparing the Mishkan was a value unto itself. And even, chas v'shalom, the Mishkan would never have started to function, their efforts would not have been in vain. There is value in working towards a goal - even if the goal is never achieved, similar to the reward Avraham received for preparing Yitzchak for the akeida, even though Yitzchak was never sacrificed.

This is as important lesson during the time of the construction of the Mishkan as it is today. We should always have the mindset of achieving the goal, and should do so wholeheartedly, with compassion and alacrity. However, regardless if the goal is achieved, the important part is the hard work and effort put in to get there.Shabbat Shalom!