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Menachem Leibtag

Mar 22, 2001, 10:38:35 PM3/22/01
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Note, the Power Point version of shiur on Parshat Vayakhel is
available at

In Memory of Rabbi Abraham Leibtag


The dramatic, triumphant conclusion of Sefer Shmot seems to
end on a 'sour note': although the SHCHINA returns, Moshe Rabeinu
CANNOT enter the Mishkan! [See 40:34-35.]
Did something go wrong? Was Moshe unworthy?
To answer this question, this week's shiur examines a textual
parallel between the conclusion of Parshat Pekudei and Parshat
Mishpatim, which will help us understand the relationship between
the books of Shmot, Vayikra, and Bamidbar.

The concluding psukim of Parshat Pekudei describe how God's
glory (and hence the SHCHINA) descends onto the Mishkan in a
manner almost identical to the Torah's description of how God's
glory had earlier descended upon Har Sinai. Surely, this
parallel lends irrefutable support to the Ramban's explanation
that the Mishkan serves as a perpetuation of Ma'amad Har Sinai
(see his commentary to 25:1), but there are few differences that
are quite noteworthy. Therefore, we begin our shiur by comparing
these two descriptions.

The final chapter of Parshat Pekudei describes how the
Mishkan is assembled for the very first time on the first day of
Nisan (in the second year /see 40:1-33). Then, upon the
completion of this assembly, the Torah tells us:
"The ANAN (cloud) covered the OHEL MOED, and KVOD HASHEM
(God's glory) filled the MISHKAN." (see 40:34)

Let's compare this pasuk with a very similar description of how
Moshe ascends to Har Sinai (at the end of Parshat Mishpatim):
"And Moshe ascended the MOUNTAIN and an ANAN covered the
MOUNTAIN, and KVOD HASHEM dwelled upon HAR SINAI..." (24:15-

Now that the Mishkan is built, its 'OHEL MOED' has replaced
'the MOUNTAIN' and, correspondingly, 'the MISHKAN' has replaced
'HAR SINAI.' The reason is simple. The essence of Har Sinai is
one and the same with that of the Mishkan: they both serve as a
medium whereby Bnei Yisrael can 'encounter' the SHCHINA.
Furthermore, as we discussed in our shiur on Parshat Tezaveh,
in both instances a 'direct' encounter, although desirable, is
impossible. Therefore, man must be shielded from God's Presence
by an ANAN.
Although this comparison appears simple and straightforward,
the next pasuk in each of these two sources seems to 'ruin' this
parallel. When the SHCHINA descends upon Har Sinai, Moshe
actually ENTERS the ANAN:
"And KVOD HASHEM dwelled on Har Sinai and the cloud covered
it for six days, and GOD CALLED TO MOSHE on the seventh
day... and Moshe came INSIDE the ANAN and ascended the
mountain." (24:16-18)

In Parshat Pekudei, by contrast:
"And Moshe was unable to enter the OHEL MOED, because the
ANAN was dwelling upon it..."(40:35)

Certainly, our parallel would have been much stronger had
Sefer Shmot similarly concluded with God 'CALLING' upon Moshe to
enter the Mishkan, just as He had 'CALLED' upon him to enter the
ANAN at Har Sinai. But for some reason, Moshe cannot enter. Has
Moshe been demoted? Or, alternatively, has the Mishkan-replica of
Har Sinai been demoted?
The answer however is quite simple. In case you haven’t
figured it out yet, to solve this problem all that we need to do
is simply 'turn the page' - and read the opening pasuk of Sefer
"And [God] CALLED OUT to Moshe, and God spoke to him from the
OHEL MOED saying..." (Vayikra 1:1)
[See commentaries of Rashbam, Ramban, & Ibn Ezra on
Shmot 40:35 and Vayikra 1:1!]

In other words, the parallel between the Mishkan and Har
Sinai is complete, once we must take the FIRST PASUK of Sefer
Vayikra and append it, if you will, to the end of Sefer Shmot.
The following illustrates the completed parallel:

HAR SINAI (24:15-18) MISHKAN (Shmot & Vayikra)
---------- ---------
the ANAN covers the HAR the ANAN covers the Mishkan
KVOD HASHEM dwells upon it KVOD HASHEM fills the Mishkan
Moshe must wait until called Moshe cannot enter (Shmot 40:35)
God calls Moshe ("vayikra el...") God calls Moshe (Vayikra 1:1)
Moshe enters the ANAN Moshe enters the Mishkan
God speaks to Moshe God speaks to Moshe

But if this parallel is indeed correct, then the first pasuk
of Vayikra actually belongs at the end of Sefer Shmot! Why does
the Torah begin a new "sefer" in the middle of a story?
To answer this question, we must carefully study the closing
psukim of Sefer Shmot.

Our understanding of Vayikra 1:1 as the logical continuation
of Shmot 40:34-35 works only if these are indeed the final psukim
of Sefer Shmot. However, Shmot 40:35 is not the end of Sefer
Shmot! Rather, three more psukim (i.e. 40:36-38), which appear to
'interrupt' this logical progression, follow:
"And when the ANAN lifted from the Mishkan, Bnei Yisrael
would travel. If it would not lift, they would not travel...
For the ANAN was upon the Mishkan during the day and fire
would appear in it by night, before the eyes of Bnei Yisrael
throughout all their travels." (40:36-38)

Despite their obvious connection to the first two psukim
(40:34-35) as they relate to the concept of the ANAN, these
psukim address an entirely DIFFERENT issue - the effect of this
ANAN on Bnei Yisrael's journey through the desert.
In fact, these three psukim seem not only 'in the way,' but
also OUT OF PLACE - they simply don't belong here. As those of
you proficient in Parshat Bha'alotcha must have noticed, these
psukim are repeated almost verbatim in Sefer BAMIDBAR, when the
Torah describes Bnei Yisrael's traveling protocol in the desert:
"On the day that the Mishkan was set up, the ANAN covered the
MISHKAN... and in the evening it appeared as fire... And when
the ANAN lifted from the OHEL [MOED], then Bnei Yisrael would
travel, and at the place where the ANAN rested Bnei Yisrael
would set up their camp... " (see Bamidbar 9:15-23)
[Note how the opening pasuk points us directly to
Shmot chapter 40 - the day of "hakamat ha'Mishkan."]

Thus, the three final psukim of Sefer Shmot clearly belong in
Sefer Bamidbar, as they involve Bnei Yisrael's mode of journey
through the desert. [Note how the next chapter in Sefer Bamidbar
(10:1-36) narrates Bnei Yisrael's actual departure from Har
Apparently, Sefer Shmot concludes with these three psukim
since these special 'travel regulations' result directly from the
dwelling of the ANAN upon the Mishkan.

Our analysis thus far has shown that the final five psukim of
Sefer Shmot divide into two distinct topics, each of which points
us to a different Sefer:
(A) 40:34-35 describes the ANAN dwelling upon the Mishkan, and
continues directly into SEFER VAYIKRA;
(B) 40:36-38 describes how Bnei Yisrael journey through the
desert in accordance with this ANAN, and continues
directly into SEFER BAMIDBAR.

A very interesting structure emerges from this analysis.
Sefer Shmot concludes with two 'pointers': one to Sefer Vayikra
(A) and one to Sefer Bamidbar (B)!

The significance of this "double-pointer" relates to God's
original plan after the Exodus, that Bnei Yisrael:
(A) - receive the TORAH at Har Sinai and
(B) - travel to (and conquer) the Land of Israel.

The events of "chet ha'egel" signified Bnei Yisrael's
breaking of the BRIT [covenant] of Har Sinai. Consequently, God
threatened to break His end of the deal, too, and take His
SHCHINA away from the people. Had it not been for Moshe Rabeinu's
intervention, Bnei Yisrael would not have received the remaining
mitzvot [A], nor would they have been worthy of God's direct
assistance in conquering the Land [B] (see 33:1-7 and our shiur
on Parshat Ki-Tisa).
Now that Bnei Yisrael have built the Mishkan and God's
SHCHINA has returned, God once again commits Himself, as it were,
to both elements of His original plan:
(A) In Sefer Vayikra, Bnei Yisrael receive the MITZVOT;
(B) In Sefer Bamdibar, Bnei Yisrael begin their travel
towards the Promised Land accompanied by the SHCHINA.

The SHCHINA'S 'dwelling' upon the Mishkan thus yields a dual
(A) First and foremost, it affects the Mishkan itself, as
explained and elaborated upon at length in Sefer Vayikra. The
SHCHINA's dwelling upon the Mishkan allows man to approach
God and offer korbanot (Vayikra/Tzav); forbids one's entry
into the Mishkan when one is "tamey" (Shmini, Tazria,
Metzora); demands a special KAPARA (atonement) ritual every
Yom Kippur and forbids the offering of korbanot outside the
Mishkan (Acharei-Mot). Finally, this "kedusha" emanates into
all three realms of existence: "kedushat ADAM" (Kedoshim),
"kedushat ZMAN" (Emor) and "kedushat MAKOM" (Behar).
[Iy"h, we'll discuss all this in our shiurim on

(B) Secondly, it affects the "machaneh" - the camp of Israel, as
reflected in Sefer Bamidbar. The presence of the SHCHINA
raises the entire camp of Israel to a higher level, as God
travels, as it were, with them. The CAMP is arranged in such
a formation that it surrounds the Mishkan (as described in
Parshiot Bamidbar and Naso), and Bnei Yisrael travel through
the desert following the ANAN over the Mishkan (Bha'alotcha).
Had Bnei Yisrael not sinned, Sefer Bamidbar would have
concluded with the story of their conquest of the Land
(Matot, Masei). Instead, it explains WHY that generation
didn't enter the land (Shlach, Korach), as well as the events
of the fortieth year (Balak, Pinchas).

This structure also explains why the events of the first of
Nisan, the day when the Mishkan is first erected, are detailed in
THREE different books instead of just one.

(1) In Sefer Shmot (40:1-35), we find the commandment to assemble
the Mishkan on the first of Nisan. This concludes the
commandment to build the Mishkan as explained in Terumah,
Tezaveh & Vayakhel. Likewise, Shmot concludes with the
dwelling of the SHCHINA upon the MISHKAN, signaling the
SHCHINA's RETURN after the events of Chet ha'Egel, as
explained in Ki-Tisa.

(2) In Sefer Vayikra (9:1-10:7), we find the details of the
special korbanot offered on YOM HA'SHMINI. [According to most
commentators, this day coincides with the first of Nisan.]
Those special KORBANOT and the other tragic events which
occurred that day (the death of Nadav and Avihu) relate to
many mitzvot found in Sefer Vayikra. Therefore, that
narrative is recorded in Sefer Vayikra, as well.

(3) In Sefer Bamidbar (7:1-89), we find the story of the special
gift brought by the NSI'IM to the Mishkan on the day of its
dedication - six wagons and twelve oxen (see 7:1-4). These
wagons were used by the Leviim to transport the Mishkan
during travel. Therefore, this account appears in Sefer
Bamidbar (as are the psukim cited earlier describing the ANAN

Hence, although these events all took place on the same day -
the first of Nisan, the Torah prefers to record them in three
different books, corresponding to the theme of each Sefer.

We will iy"h return to this theme in our study of both Sefer
Vayikra and Sefer Bamidbar. Till then,

shabbat shalom
A. Note the importance of the date of the first of Nisan in Shmot
chapter 40. Relate God's selection and designation of this date
to Parshat ha'Chodesh / Shmot 12:1-20.
Relate this as well to the importance of this date in Divrei
Ha'yamim II 29:1-17.

B. Relate the main points of the above shiur to Shmot 29:45-46,
specifically the purpose of Yetziat Mitzraim (to worship God in
the desert or to inherit the Promised Land / see also Shmot 3:6-
[Relate your answer as well to the main point of our shiur on
Parshat Tezaveh.]

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Copyright (c) 2000/5760 Menachem Leibtag.
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