Tetzaveh – the inspired work of the people

When Moshe was commanded to build the Sanctuary (Mishkan), the emphasis was placed on the role of the people. G-d said on numerous occasions, “and they shall make”, and  “they will make”.  They will make the sanctuary, they will make the curtains, they will make the copper altar, and they will make the gold altar.


Yeshayahu Leibowitz wrote that there was no Divine intervention in the construction of the Mishkan.  Everything was man-made, and the craftsmen in charge were Bezalel ben Uri and Oholiav ben Ahisamakh. He wrote that the Shechina dwelling in Israel came about as a result of the work of men. Inspiration did not come from the outside: it came about as a result of what man did to receive it. Without man’s actions, it is possible that there will not be any inspiration.


G-d said to Moshe that when the Mishkan was finished, “I will meet you there and commune with you from above the cover”. This meant that G-d’s presence would be in that small space.

Yeshayahu Leibowitz wrote that this contrasted with King Shlomo’s words when he built the Temple “the heaven and heaven of heavens cannot contain you; how much less this house I’ve built?” He answered that the closeness between G-d and man is conditional on the degree of love that man has for     G-d. He quoted the verse of the Shema, the key verse of faith, “and you shall love the Lord your G-d with all your heart, and with all your soul and with all your might”. Leibowitz concluded that if you could do that, the Shechina can reduce Itself to the area of human existence, but if not, the world and all in it are not large enough for the Shechina. 

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