One of the most important Jewish contributions to our understanding of leadership is its early insistence of “the separation of powers”. Neither authority nor power was to be located in a single individual or office. Instead, leadership was divided between different kinds of roles.
There seems to be great similarities between this Torah reading and the reading of the book of Esther on Purim. Throughout the entire Torah, we find that the name of our great teacher Moshe (after his birth) is found in each weekly portion, with one lone exception. In Tetzaveh Moshe’s name never appears, even though we are aware that Moshe is the one who wrote this portion of the Torah and taught it to the Jewish people for all eternity. We are aware that Moshe is the hidden author, the director of events behind the scenes.
I this week's Parasha we learn that the laws of the Mishkan are precise. On the other hand, in the process of the construction of the temple, the builders are allowed to derive any benefit they want from the temple.
In describing the dwelling of the Shechina (Divine Presence) in the Mishkan, our parasha says: “I shall dwell in the midst of Bnei Yisrael … I took you out of the Land of Egypt to have My Presence dwell in your midst” (Shemot 29:45-6). Rashi says that Hashem took Bnei Yisrael out on condition that He would have His Shechina among them, and the Ramban adds that this dwelling of the Shechina is for Hashem’s benefit.
According to the Ramban, the commandment to build the Mishkan came right after the giving of the Torah and before the sin of the Golden Calf. The point of its being built was to have the Divine Presence dwell among the nation. This turned the one-time event of the revelation of the Divine Presence at Har Sinai into a permanent one that took place in the Mishkan and the Beit Hamikdash. The aron was the part of the Mishkan/Mikdash that was the setting for the revelation, as the mountain had been previously.
Several years ago on this parasha, we wrote about Shlomo Hamelech’s building of his palace close to the Beit Hamikdash. We explained that this represented his thesis that one should view the holy and the mundane and the Torah and the kingdom as inseparable. When the kings of the Kingdom of Yehuda sinned, the proximity to the Beit Hamikdash became a sore point, as Yechezkel highlighted (see Yechezkel 43:8). Was the approach of Shlomo’s father, David, the same as his son’s? The navi Shmuel (II,5) describes the conquer of Yevus and its transition into the eternal Israelite capital of Yerushalayim. We are told that David turned a fortress known as Metzudat David into his home and built around it, extending the city and building a wall around it (ibid. 7-10). The wall encompassed both the City of David and the Temple Mount, upon which the Beit Hamikdash would be built, and, in between, he left an area called the Milo for sleeping quarters for pilgrims to the Beit Hamikdash. David’s palace was built in the City of David, and, apparently, parts of it have been uncovered in excavations at that site.
Our parasha includes many p’sukim (46 to be exact) about the inauguration of the Mishkan, which started with the Seven Days of Miluim. This topic is continued in Sefer Vayikra, in Parashat Shemini, after the laws of korbanot are discussed, as well as in Parashat B’ha’alotcha.