Parshas Pekudei closes out the parshiyos of the Mishkan as well as Sefer Shemos. For the past month, we have explored different lessons found in the construction of the Mishkan, the utensils, the Kohanim’s clothing, and even in the way Hashem gave over the instructions to Moshe. As the Mishkan is finally put together, there is one more lesson for us to take out.
As the finishing touches are placed on the Mishkan, the pasuk says, “וַתֵּ֕כֶל כָּל־עֲבֹדַ֕ת מִשְׁכַּ֖ן אֹ֣הֶל מוֹעֵ֑ד וַיַּֽעֲשׂוּ֙ בְּנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל כְּ֠כֹ֠ל אֲשֶׁ֨ר צִוָּ֧ה יְהֹוָ֛ה אֶת־משֶׁ֖ה כֵּ֥ן עָשֽׂוּ” “And all the work of the Tabernacle of the Tent of Meeting was finished. And the Children of Yisrael did; like all that Hashem had commanded Moshe, so had they done” (Shemos 39:32). Why does the pasuk give credit to the whole nation for the construction of the Mishkan if only Betzalel and a select few were involved in it? The simple answer is that Betzalel represented the entire nation when he constructed the Mishkan, and when it comes to a mitzvah, a representative can include you in its undertaking, giving you credit as well. However, there is also a deeper idea we can learn from this.
Hashem commanded us in 613 mitzvos and we have an obligation to perform each one. It is a tremendous chilul Hashem if we decline or give up on performing even one of them. However, it is almost impossible to do every single mitzvah. There are mitzvos which are exclusive to the Beis Hamikdash, which we, tragically, do not have nowadays. But even in the time of the Beis Hamikdash, there are mitzvos just for Kohanim, the Kohen Gadol had his own mitzvos, Levi’im have their own mitzvos, some mitzvos are exclusive to certain professions and circumstances, women have mitzvos that they are not obligated in and some that are exclusive to them, the list goes on and on. So how does Hashem expect us to keep all 613? Furthermore, Chazal tell us the 613 mitzvos correspond to the amount of bones and nerves we have in our bodies; by not performing even just one, we lose the divine influence on that bone!
The Ohr HaChaim explains that we are not all expected to perform all 613 mitzvos, but rather, as a nation, we are supposed to perform as many as we can as a collective. We should all strive to do as many as we are capable of, we can’t allow a mitzvah to slide by us or expect someone else to pick up our slack, but there will be different opportunities for different people to perform certain mitzvos more than others. We expect the Kohen Gadol to perform his special mitzvos for all of us. The people who live in towns will take care of the mitzvah of bikur cholim for the person living in the middle of nowhere; the farmers will perform the mitzvos related to the fields while the businessmen will perform the ones relevant to money. There are many other circumstances that present themselves in the most interesting of ways. We may not all be able to perform each mitzvah, but together, with each of us doing what we can, we can keep all 613.
For the most part, however, the majority of us have the same mitzvah opportunities as everyone else. But even if there may be thousands of other people doing the same mitzvah as us, we must look at ourselves as the one responsible for it. Since I have a unique ability to perform the mitzvah, it is my responsibility to fulfill that ability by doing it myself.
The same was true by the Mishkan. There were people who donated gold and those who donated silver, there were those who built the walls and those who spun the clothing, some built the Shulchan and some built the Mizbe’ach. Betzalel was the only one who worked on the Aron. But the pasuk gives the credit to everyone for all parts of the construction. Since everyone was working together to accomplish the directive set to them by Hashem, regardless of the person’s contribution or ability to contribute, they all receive equal credit in the Torah.
As we mentioned above, a similar directive still exists nowadays. We all have a goal of working together to accomplish all 613 mitzvos. For now, we can accomplish what we can, each of us adding in our unique abilities. In the near future, we will hopefully have the Beis Hamikdash and all that comes with it, so we can accomplish all the rest of the mitzvos.
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