One of the most important aspects learned from the building of the Mishkan was the idea concerning which actions were considered prohibited constructive acts on Shabbos. In our parsha the verse states (Shemos 35:3), “You should not kindle a fire in any of your dwellings on Shabbos”. Rabbeinu Bechaya asks why this is the specific example giving for prohibited acts on Shabbos? He explains that most jobs involve fire in some way whether for baking, building or creating. Thus, the Torah used this as the most relevant example. How are Shabbos, fire and Mishkan related?
Rabbeinu Bechaya points out that there are many verses and parshiyos that discuss the materials and construction of the Mishkan. Why is this important to us? What lessons are we to learn from these long parshiyos? He explains that the Mishkan’s lessons are timeless and teach us how to live life and how to develop a relationship with Hashem. What are these lessons that the Tabernacle holds?
Rabbeinu Bechaya quotes from Chazal that the Mishkan parallels the creation of the world. Parshas Pekudei opens with a repeat of the word “Mishkan” twice. This hints to the Mishkan on earth and the Mishkan in Heaven, the spiritual sanctuary that exists and can never be destroyed. Just as the earth was created with Hashem with the sky above, so too, the Mishkan had a covering. Just as God separated the waters on the 2nd day of creation, so too there was a kiyor, lever, in the Mishkan which separated the water. “Let there be light” hints to the Menorah. God created birds and these are represented by the Keruvim in the Mishkan. God rested on the 7th day and so too the building of the Mishkan stopped on Shabbos.
This all is stated explicitly by Chazal. Rabbeinu Bechaya takes the parable further. Just as God created the world with loving kindness, so too, the Mishkan was built with the giving spirit of those who made contributions. The world was created with the traits of kindness and judgment, chessed and din. So too, the Mishkan was constructed via Betzalel from Yehuda and Ahaliav from Dan, representing kindness and din (as explained in Parshas Ki Sisa).
It is for this reason that Rabbeinu Bechaya notes that the word, “asah, he made” appears 248 times in connection with the construction of the Tabernacle. Just as man has 248 limbs, so too, the Mishkan was a spiritual model of how to build man and how to connect with God. This is the connection between Mishkan, Shabbos and fire. The Mishkan is a place which represents the creation of the world. We can learn lessons about life and the way to serve Hashem by contemplating its structure. When we delve into the lessons and goals of the Mishkan we will find deeply inspiring and relevant messages that apply to us in the here and now, thousands of years after the Mishkan and Mikdash are no longer with us. Learning these parshiyos will help us merit to rebuild the Mikdash speedily in our days.