Parshas Pekudei continues where Parshas Vayakhel left off in describing the construction and assembling of the Mishkan. As we mentioned last week, these two parshiyos are almost exact copies of Parshiyos Terumah and Tetzaveh with Pekudei being similar to Tetzaveh which deals with the Kohanim’s clothing. With this week’s parshah, we complete the story of the Mishkan and the Book of Shemos.
“אֵלֶּה פְקוּדֵי הַמִּשְׁכָּן מִשְׁכַּן הָעֵדֻת אֲשֶׁר פֻּקַּד עַל פִּי מֹשֶׁה” “These are the accountings of the Mishkan, which were counted at the word of Moses…” (38:21). The parshah starts off with a tally of all the materials used in the building of the Mishkan. This seems to be a very strange place to bring this information as the Mishkan is not finished yet; we still need to make the Kohanim’s clothing! Why does the Torah interrupt our story now to tell us this as opposed to when everything is finished?
In order to answer this question, the Kli Yakar brings two midrashim. The first midrash states that the place of Beis Hamikdash (or the Mishkan) down here in this world, is lined up directly with the Beis Hamikdash in heaven. This cannot mean that they were physically lined up because the Mishkan moved with the Bnei Yisrael in the desert, never staying in the same place permanently. Rather, there was also a Mishkan (and a Beis Hamikdash) in heaven built exactly like the one down here was supposed to be built. When Moshe went up to Har Sinai, Hashem showed him based on the Mishkan up there how the Mishkan down here was supposed to look. However, there are no Kohanim serving in the Mishkan in heaven and therefore no need for the Kohanim’s clothing. So Hashem could not show Moshe exactly how the Kohanim’s clothing were supposed to look, Moshe had to figure it out himself based on Hashem’s description.
He brings a proof to this from the fact that it says several times in Parshas Terumah, which deals exclusively with the Mishkan building, “כְּכֹל אֲשֶׁר אֲנִי מַרְאֶה אוֹתְךָ” “According to all that I show you…” (25:9), or some variation of that sentence. Additionally, in Parshas Vayakhel, it mentions how Moshe built the Mishkan exactly how Hashem showed him on the mountain. In Parshiyos Tetzaveh and Pekudei, however, this idea is not mentioned at all, to show you that Hashem did not show Moshe any form of the Kohanim’s clothing when he was on Har Sinai. This is why there is a break between the structure of the Mishkan and the Kohanim’s clothing, they are not considered part of the actual Mishkan (even though they are integral to the Mishkan’s purpose), only what was shown to Moshe in heaven is considered part of the actual Mishkan.
Another way of answering using this idea is that since Moshe did not know exactly what the Bigdei Kehunah (Kohanim’s clothing) were supposed to look like, he had to be extra careful with making them. The Torah testifies that he did make them exactly how they were supposed to since it says several times in this week’s parshah that they were made “כַּאֲשֶׁר צִוָּה יְ־הֹוָ־ה אֶת מֹשֶׁה” “as Hashem commanded Moshe.” (See 39:5 for example.) The reason the counting of materials is placed right before the making of the Bigdei Kehunah is to show that just like Moshe was exact in the building of the Mishkan, which he knew exactly how it was supposed to look and therefore knew how much material had to be used, he was also exact in the making of the Bigdei Kehunah.
The second midrash is based on the pasuk “אֵלֶּה פְקוּדֵי הַמִּשְׁכָּן מִשְׁכַּן הָעֵדֻת” “These are the accountings of the Mishkan, the Mishkan of the Testimony” (38:21). How come it has to say the word “מִשְׁכַּן” twice? The midrash explains that this word is the same as “משכון”, collateral. The two Batei Mikdash (Holy Temples) were collateral for the Bnei Yisrael. If the nation would sin, the buildings would be destroyed instead of the people. This applied to the Mishkan as well specifically for the sin of the Golden Calf. Since Hashem forgave the Jewish people for the Golden Calf, they merited to have to Mishkan built. But this concept did not apply to the Kohanim’s clothing, the punishment would be taken out on the stones and wood of the Mishkan (and the Beis Hamikdash), but the cloth and gold of the Bigdei Kehunah would be spared. Therefore, the reason the tally of Mishkan materials was placed in between is because different conditions applied to the Mishkan as a building and the Kohanim’s clothing.
We should all strive to be as careful in our Avodas Hashem as Moshe was in the making of the Kohanim’s clothing. Just like he was exact in following Hashem’s word, so should we be in our own avodah. With that zchus (merit) we should all see the Beis Hamikdash rebuilt speedily in our times.