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ALL ABOARD

by Rabbi Yaakov Bogart    
Torah from Dixie Staff Writer    

"All of the work of the Tabernacle, the Tent of Meeting, was completed, and the Children of Israel did everything Hashem commanded Moses, so did they do" (Exodus 39:32).

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"All of the work of the Tabernacle, the Tent of Meeting, was completed, and the Children of Israel did everything Hashem commanded Moses, so did they do" (Exodus 39:32).

We know that only Betzalel, the master architect, and other expert craftsmen took part in the actual construction of the Mishkan (Tabernacle). Yet, the Torah describes that "the Children of Israel" - the entire Jewish nation - completed the Mishkan. How is it that, in Hashem's view of reality, each and every Jew built the Tabernacle?

The Sforno, a classic 16th century Italian commentator, writes that although only part of the Jewish nation actually participated in the construction, the rest of the Jewish people lovingly and wholeheartedly donated the materials necessary to build the Mishkan. Hashem considered this as if every Jew had a share in the actual construction. The Torah is, therefore, sending us a clear message: Although one may be physically unable to take part in a mitzvah, nonetheless by supporting it he is considered to be actually involved in its fulfillment.

Fortunately, we live in a time when there are literally thousands of worthy and authentic Torah institutions and organizations involved in all kinds of Torah study and acts of loving kindness. Although we may only be able to participate in a select few, we can still afford ourselves the opportunity to be involved with so much Torah and mitzvot by financially supporting the other many worthy causes.

The Or HaChaim, an 18th century classic commentator and Kabbalist, takes another approach. As we will see, he suggests that this verse serves as a basis for one of the most fundamental beliefs of Judaism. We are aware of the great levels of unity achieved by the Jewish people at various times in our history. This unity is something more than a national camaraderie. On the deepest level, it is a manifestation of the oneness of our Jewish souls. Every Jew is connected and bound together with his fellow Jew. With this in mind, the commandment to "love your neighbor as yourself" takes on a deeper meaning, for we are all one.

There is an interesting question that often arises when we consider the importance of fulfilling all 613 mitzvot in the Torah: Isn't it odd that there has never been a Jew capable of keeping all 613? There are mitzvot that apply only to a Jewish king, a High Priest, an ordinary priest, a Levite, a Jewish judge, one who resides in the land of Israel, a homeowner, a man, a woman, and the list goes on. Who is capable of performing all 613?

Some suggest that by studying about those mitzvot that are not applicable to ourselves, we are considered to be actually involved in them. The Or HaChaim, however, offers a different solution. He explains that, in truth, each and every Jew does fulfill all the mitzvot in the Torah, for he or she is connected and one with all of the Jewish people.

The Or HaChaim concludes that it is for this reason that the Torah considers that all of the Jewish people were involved in the construction of the Mishkan. Only some merited the actual physical involvement, yet everyone was a part of the whole unit called the Jewish people. Indeed, "the Children of Israel did everything Hashem commanded Moses."

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Rabbi Yaakov Bogart, a native Atlantan, is studying in the Beth Medrash Gavohah Kollel of Lakewood, New Jersey.

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