ויקם את החצר סביב למשכן ולמזבח ויתן את מסך שער החצר ויכל משה את המלאכה.
"And the courtyard was erected around the Mishkan and the altar, and the tapestry was placed at the opening of the courtyard; and Moshe completed all of the work.” (Shemos 40:33)
Several verses before (ibid. 39:32), the Torah tells us that “The entire work of the Mishkan was completed, and the Jewish people did everything according to what Hashem commanded Moshe, thus they did.”
We know that each word in the Torah is important and precious. When the Torah tells us that Moshe fulfilled Hashem’s command to completion, the verse uses direct and straightforward language: Moshe completed all of the work. Why then does the Torah deem it important, when speaking about the Jewish people, to emphasize again that they adhered to Hashem’s command? If the work was completed, as we are told about Moshe, why is it necessary to say that they did everything according to what Hashem commanded, and then adding that “thus they did?”
The Gemara tells us (Shabbos 10b) that Hashem said to Moshe: “There is a prized gift in My treasure house and its name is Shabbos, and I desire to give it to the Jewish people. Go and inform them about it.” Why did Hashem tell Moshe to inform the Jewish people about this precious gift, instead of giving it to them without advance notice?
There was a very important reason for this. We are privileged to have 613 mitzvos, including 248 positive commandments and 365 prohibitions. There are two ways that one can fulfill Hashem’s commands. One way is by doing everything simply and mechanically, without inner attachment. A person may be keeping Shabbos by avoiding transgressions, eating the Shabbos meals and even learning a bit in the afternoon, but he does all of this by rote, as if set on automatic.
There is another way of serving Hashem, a far more lofty way, by connecting deeply to Hashem through the mitzvos. A person who strives for this type of avodas Hashem prepares himself before doing a mitzvah by filling his heart with joy and awe. Such a person doesn’t arrive to Shabbos like a stranger, but he comes prepared, his heart aflame with passion and his soul full of thirst and longing for Hashem. He then merits feeling the true taste of Shabbos! There is no comparison between these two types of avodas Hashem – between serving Hashem by rote or serving Him with fervor and enthusiasm.
We can explain this concept with a parable: A father wanted to delight his beloved son with a special treat. He acquired a very rare and delicious fruit, but if the father wouldn’t tell his son how rare and delicate the fruit is, the son would cut it up and eat it in a few minutes, without even appreciating the beautiful gift he received. He will miss out on the pleasure and joy of knowing the value of this precious fruit. In order for the fruit to be properly enjoyed, the father must inform the son about the significance of this special treat so that the son should be prepared for it and relish its flavor.
The same is true about the holy Shabbos day. Hashem wanted to give us a very special gift, but He first wanted to inform us about the greatness and specialty of this day so that we should know how to accept it. He wanted us to prepare ourselves properly to receive this unique gift. Hashem told Moshe: “I desire to give it to them.” Please tell the Jewish people how deeply I desire to bestow this gift upon them. “Go and inform them,” so they should be aware of its significance and they should prepare themselves properly to receive this heavenly gift. If they will do so, they will merit feeling the true taste of Shabbos, which is a spiritual joy unlike any other type of joy or pleasure they had ever experienced.
Great tzaddikim are able to truly appreciate the gift of Shabbos, and many of them wait all week for this holy day. They prepare themselves fully to receive the holiness and spiritual light of Shabbos. However, there are people who do not have the ability to prepare themselves in such a manner, yet when they see others who do manage to reach this lofty level of preparation, they aspire to imitate them. At the very least, they desire to reach a higher spiritual level! This desire, this deep longing, is in itself a step in the right direction towards attaining more connection and closeness to Hashem through the mitzvos. This is hinted at in the verses mentioned above. The word “vayichal” – completed, also refers to a deep inner longing of the soul.
When Moshe heard the command to build a Sanctuary for Hashem, he responded the way he responded to all of Hashem’s commands. He developed a profound longing to connect with his Creator through the mitzvos, and he felt a very deep yearning to fulfill this command properly. Therefore, the verse says simply that Moshe completed the work. He needed no further preparation.
On the other hand, the rest of the Jewish people were not on Moshe’s level of avodas Hashem. They still needed to prepare themselves properly before performing these mitzvos. They had to develop a longing for Hashem’s closeness and grow in their enthusiasm and fervor towards these commandments. Therefore, the Torah tells us that the Jewish people completed the work, but they first tried to prepare themselves as best as they could. They yearned to do these mitzvos in the manner that Moshe himself performed them, hence the special mention that they did everything “according to what Hashem commanded Moshe.” The Torah emphasizes again that “thus they did” – after preparing themselves, they performed the mitzvos with proper joy and enthusiasm.
When Hashem commanded the Jewish people to bring donations of gold, silver and other valuable items for the Sanctuary, the Torah stresses that it was not enough to offer the items, but it had to be “donated with the heart.” It had to be donated with enthusiasm, with love. When building the Mishkan, the Jewish people yearned to connect with Hashem by fulfilling all of His commandments with love.
May Hashem enable us to at least have a desire to yearn for His closeness and for the true taste of Shabbos, and to develop an attachment to all precious mitzvos of the Torah.