There are two main Missvot in this week’s Perashot, namely the building of the Mishkan and Shabbat. These two Missvot seem to be either contradictory or complimentary. Contradictory, because we learn all the prohibited works, the 39 Melakhot one is not allowed to perform on Shabbat, from the construction of the Mishkan. In addition, our Sages teach us that the juxtaposition of building of the Mishkan and Shabbat is to instruct us that even in the construction of the Mishkan one may not violate Shabbat. They are complimentary, because they represent both aspects of Judaism.
The Mishkan represented the service to G-d and His worship. There are many details associated with the construction of the Mishkan; the materials, artisans, dimensions and end products. There is the training of the Kohanim to perform the rituals and sacrifices, as well as the specific duties of the Kohen Gadol to name a few. The Torah dedicates many pages to define these laws and obligations. Yet, on the other hand Hashem clearly had said that He prefers listening to Him than performing sacrifices because those are for man’s sake not G-d’s sake, therefore the Mishkan becomes an instrument for mankind’s benefit. Shabbat represents G-d’s creation of the world in six days and the seventh day allocated for rest, again reminding us of our obligation toward G-d. Then again, we are taught that Shabbat reminds us of Egypt, as Moshe selected the Sabbath for the Jewish slaves to rest and, later on, as free people to give our servants and workers the Sabbath as a day of rest, thereof, Shabbat becomes also an instrument for mankind’s benefit.
Mishkan and Shabbat are both complimentary and contradictory; they both represent our relationship with G-d on one hand, and on the other hand our relationship with our fellow Jew. Today, we don’t have a Mishkan and there are no form of sacrifice, however we have the Synagogue instead and we have Shabbat. The laws of Shabbat and the observance of Shabbat are stressed throughout the Torah, and are included in the Ten Commandments. While we observe Shabbat we are being asked to emulate G-D. Shabbat has become a time to reflect, introspect, and spend family time. We take a break from our busy and chaotic lives and simultaneously service Hashem and attend to the people around us.
Rabbi Elie Abadie, M.D.