Numbers in [square brackets] are the mitzva-count of the Sefer HaChinuch
Kohen – First Aliya – 16 p’sukim – 25:1-16
G-d tells Moshe to tell the People to donate materials in amounts that “each person sees fit”. The donations were to be of gold, silver, copper; dyed wools (blue, purple, red), fine linen; goats-hair fabric, red-dyed sheepskin, Tachash skins; acacia wood; oil for light, spices for the anointing oil and the incense offerings; gemstones for the Eifod and the Choshen.
“And they shall make for Me a Sanctuary, and I will dwell in their midst” . This well-known pasuk constitutes the mitzva to build the Mishkan in that generation, and the Beit HaMikdash in later times. Each time the Mishkan was taken apart, transported, and reassembled, the mitzva was fulfilled. It was fulfilled by Shlomo HaMelech and his generation, and by Ezra HaSofer and his generation. It will be fulfilled IY”H when the third Beit HaMikdash will be built, IY”H in our own time.[SDT] Some commentaries interpret the word B’TOCHAM as within each person of B’nei Yisrael, not just in the midst of the People, thereby personalizing the relationship between G-d and each person.
Rambam gives 14 rules for the counting of the 613 mitzvot. Rule #12 is that it is not “appropriate” to count as separate mitzvot those commands that are part of a more all-encompassing mitzva. Therefore, Rambam does NOT count among the 613 the mitzvot to make the Aron, Menora, Shulchan, Altars, etc. since they are included in Building the Sanctuary. In other words, ALL of the details of the building of the Mikdash are included in one single Mitzvat Asei. Other mitzva-counters disagree. E.g. Ramban counts the making of the Aron as a separate mitzva (but not the other sacred vessels).
G-d will show the various forms that the work should take as models for the people to follow in M’lechet HaMishkan, the sacred task of building the Mikdash.
The first specific command is that of making the Aron (Holy Ark). It is to be made of wood, plated with gold inside and out. Four gold rings are to be fixed to its sides to receive the Carrying Poles (themselves made of gold-plated wood). The Carrying Poles, once inserted into the rings, may never be removed .
Note that although all the positive commands related to the details of each of the vessels are included within the “super-mitzva” of building the Mikdash (and everything in it), this prohibition is counted separately. In other words, the commands to make the Aron, to plate it with gold, to attach rings, to make poles, to put a decorative border around the top of the Aron, to make the lid, etc. etc. are all part of the mitzva to make the Sanctuary. The prohibition of removing the carrying poles is its own mitzva.
The “Testimony” (the LUCHOT – Tablets) shall be placed in the Aron.
Clarification: Some commentaries describe the ARON as three nested, open-top boxes – an outer box of gold, a middle box of wood, and an inner box of gold which had a rim to cover over the thickness of the wooden box, so that only gold would be visible both from the outside and inside of the ARON. There are different opinions as to how thick the gold plating was.
Levi – Second Aliya – 24 p’sukim – 25:17-40
A thick, solid gold lid (called the KAPORET) is to be made for the Aron. From the lid are to be formed two Cherubs facing each other with their wings spread out above the lid. Communication from G-d will be from “between the two K’ruvim”
Think about this… It seems a bit strange, does it not, that we would be commanded to make the K’ruvim in light of the strong prohibitions against graven images. And more so, if we note the chronology of the events in the months following the Exodus – specifically, that the command to build the Mikdash followed in the wake of the Golden Calf fiasco. The “answer” is that G-d is the Boss. He says no graven images – then we don’t. And the Golden Calf is the ultimate affront to G-d. He commands us to make the K’ruvim, then we do. There are many examples of this idea. Lighting fire is forbidden on Shabbat. In the Mikdash it is required. Piku’ach Nefesh situations require it. This is not contradictory. This is recognizing G-d’s mastery of the world and our commitment to follow His commands.
A special table of gold-plated wood shall be made; a frame and decorative border to the frame are to be made of gold. Four gold rings are to be attached to the legs of the table as receptacles for the carrying rods. Shelves and supports for the shelves complete the Shulchan.
The Lechem Panim (Showbread) are to be placed on the Shulchan at all times .
This is not considered just a detail of the making of the Shulchan, but as its own mitzva. The mitzva involved baking 12 special loaves (halachically, they were matza) on Friday to replace the previous week’s loaves on Shabbat. Tradition records a weekly miracle that the one-week-old Lechem HaPanim was found to be fresh by the kohanim on duty who shared in eating it. This mitzva makes the statement that we should not view food as just the physical necessity that the rest of the world sees it as, but rather we are challenged to add a spiritual dimension to even the most mundane of our human activities. The Lechem HaPanim are the model; our laws of kashrut, brachot, and more help us achieve the spiritual levels of this concept. In the Shabbat Zmira KI ESHM’RA SHABBAT, we sing that G-d gave a Torah-mitzva to the Kohanim to put the Lechem HaPanim on the Shulchan on Shabbat. Therefore, we are forbidden to fast on Shabbat (except for Yom Kippur). In other words, G-d did not include a food in the Temple service just to feed the Kohanim. G-d is showing us, so to speak, the potential spirituality of food. Take this lesson, He says, from the Mikdash into your homes. Food is not incidental to Shabbat; it is a significant part of our observance of Shabbat.
(some Chumashim put Shlishi here)
The Menora is to be made of solid gold, one continuous piece, a central branch with six side branches (3 on a side), decorative orbs, flowers, and cups adorned the ends of each branch, with additional ones on the central branch. The Menora’s utensils were also made of gold. Additionally, there was a 3-step platform that was used by the Kohen when he tended and lit the Menora.
In fact, the Kohen would be able to reach the oil lamps even without the platform, but climbing onto the platform allowed the Kohen Gadol NOT to raise his hands above the level of his forehead, because of the TZITZ which he wore. (It was considered disrespectful for the K.G. to raise his hands above the TZITZ.) The steps also made tending the Menora more comfortable.[SDT] All parts of the Menorah were integral to the whole; none was “merely” attached. Torat Moshe applies this to the People of Israel and, from a play on words, says that even Jews who have strayed from Torah and mitzvot are part of the whole.
Shlishi – Third Aliya – 14 p’sukim – 26:1-14
The MISHKAN (the term is used for the whole structure as well as the first fabric covering) was a roofless structure covered by three layers of coverings. The first was called the Mishkan and was made of 10 panels of woven fabric made from 3 different colors of dyed wool, plus white linen. Five panels were attached to form one section; similarly for the other five panels. The two sections thus formed were linked with buttons of gold through loops of blue wool, the buttons being attached to the edge of one section and the loops woven onto the edge of the other section. The weave of the Mishkan included images known as K’ruvim.[This graphic of the Mishkan (Davka) is based on the opinion that the MICHSEH was on the top of the Mishkan only and did not drape over the sides as did the Ohel (visible in the picture) and Mishkan (not seen).]
Above the Mishkan was an 11-panel covering (sections of six and five panels joined with copper buttons) made of goats’ hair. The Mishkan was decorative; this covering, known as the OHEL, was utilitarian, affording protection from the elements. The OHEL and MISHKAN covered the sides of the Mishkan as well as the top.
The topmost covering (some say it was just on the top, not the sides; others say it too draped down the walls of the Mishkan) was made of red-dyed sheepskin and the skin of the Tachash. (The identity of the Tachash is in dispute; some say that it was an animal that existed at that time only, specifically for the purpose of making the MICHSEH, the top-covering of the Mishkan.)
FOR YOUR INFORMATION… The Mishkan, as described in the Torah, functioned for the 40 years of the Wilderness (actually 39 years), and the first 14 years in Eretz Yisrael (in GILGAL), the years of conquest and settlement. After that, a stone structure – with the same dimensions – was made in SHILO to replace the gold-covered wooden wall sections. The three coverings were the same, as were the furnishings inside the Mishkan. The Mishkan stood in SHILO for 369 years. After ELI HAKOHEN died, the Mishkan was set up in NOV (13 years) and then (after Shmuel’s death) in GIV’ON (44 years). That’s a total of 480 years, from Y’TZI’AT MITZRAYIM until the first Beit HaMikdash.
R’vi’i – Fourth Aliya – 16 p’sukim – 26:15-30
The walls of the Mishkan were gold-plated wooden boards. Each board had two pegs to be inserted into silver foundation sockets. Boards were joined by square gold rings through slits at the top of the boards; connecting rods through rings mounted on the sides, above and below their mid-lines; and a central bolt through the center of the boards, internally. There were to be 20 boards each for the north and south walls, eight on the west. The east was open, covered by a special curtain.[SDT] Rashi brings a Midrash that Yaakov Avinu foresaw with Divine Vision that wood would be needed by his descendants upon their departure from Egypt. He brought saplings with him to Egypt which he planted and ordered his children to take the wood with them when they left Egypt.
Chamishi – Fifth Aliya – 7 p’sukim – 26:31-37
A woven curtain (like the first covering of the Mishkan) was to be hung from four gold-plated wooden pillars to separate between the Holy of Holies and the main hall of the Sanctuary. This curtain is called the PAROCHET, and gives its name to the curtain which we place on the Aron Kodesh in shul. Their functions are not the same; names are.[SDT] MA’ASEI CHOSHEIV, explains Rashi, is highly skilled weaving (could it be embroidery of a sort?) which results in different designs on each of the two sides of the fabric.
The Aron is to be put into the Holy of Holies. The Shulchan on the north wall opposite the Menora on the south wall are placed outside the Parochet in the main section of the Mishkan. (The custom is to place the Chanukiya on the south wall of the shul, to remind us of the Menora of the Mikdash.)
A curtain similar to the Parochet was to be hung across the entrance of the Mishkan. This MASACH is to be hung on five wooden pillars plated with gold, fitted with golden hooks, and inserted into gold foundation sockets.
Some commentaries say that each curtain hung from hooks on the supporting pillars. Others say that a rod was inserted at the top of each curtain and the rod was suspended from the hooks on the pillars. This would allow the Parochet and Masach to hang evenly without sagging.
Shishi – Sixth Aliya – 8 p’sukim – 27:1-8
The Mizbei’ach (Altar) is to be made of wood, plated with copper. It is a square with raised corners. All vessels and utensils for this Altar were to be made of copper, as are the rings for the carrying rods. This Altar was outside the Mishkan, in the courtyard of the Mikdash and was used for most of the sacrifices. (Unlike the internal, golden, incense Altar – not even mentioned in this sedra).
The Torah says that this Altar was 3 amot tall. R. Yehuda says: understand it as it is written. R. Yosi says just as the internal Altar is twice as tall as it is wide and long, so too is this one. It measures 5 amot on each side of the square, therefore, it is 10 amot tall. But the Torah says three? That is from its SOVEV.
The Aron, Shulchan, Menora are 1,2,3 in Parshat T’ruma. Then the structure of the Mishkan, then the External Altar. Internal Altar doesn’t come until T’tzaveh – after the garments of the Kohanim. The Washing Basin and its Stand don’t show up until the beginning of Ki Tisa. When the actual construction is described in Vayak-hel and P’kudei, the order is different.
Sh’vi’i – Seventh Aliya – 11 p’sukim – 27:9-19
Linen curtains were to be made, as were wooden columns, decorated (not completely covered) with silver. The courtyard curtains were to be hung from silver hooks on these columns. Each column was supported by a copper foundation socket. An entrance curtain was to be woven in the style of the Mishkan, the Parochet, and the Masach, to be hung across the eastern side of the courtyard. Copper spikes helped anchor the curtains that surrounded the Mishkan.
We have been without a Beit HaMikdash for so long that many of us have developed a “who needs it?” kind of attitude about a physical Mikdash. Without analyzing the following analogy too much, here’s a thought. Even if one has been davening by heart for a long time, and knows the prayers well, there is still many benefits to his getting a beautiful Siddur to use. It gives him a focus, enhances his service of G-d, is physically attractive and spiritually inspiring.
Haftara – 20 p’sukim -Melachim Alef 5:26-6:13
In one type of year, the rarest, that occurs 3.3% of the time, T’RUMAH is SH’KALIM. In another rare type of year (4.3%) of the time, T’RUMAH is ZACHOR. 55.5% of the time, T’RUMAH is a HAFSAKA, a break-Shabbat in the midst of the Four Parshiyot. 36.9% of the time (in all 13-month years), T’RUMAH falls out before the 4 Parshiyot begin. This means that in 92.4% of all years (including this year, 5762), we read the regular Haftara of T’RUMAH.
The Haftara describes the preparation for the building of the first Beit HaMikdash, much like the Torah presents the preparation for the building of the Mishkan. One can notice differences between the building of the Mishkan and the building of the Beit HaMikdash, especially on the point of participation of the people.
The concluding pasuk of the Haftara goes so beautifully with one of the open p’sukim of the sedra. And I will dwell (says G-d) in the midst of Bnei Yisrael and I will not abandonmy people Israel.
May we see the fulfillment of the mitzvot of the sedra and Haftara, speedily in our time.