Pikudei, where the building of the Mishkan is completed is oftentimes read back to back with Va’yakhel. As you recall in last weeks musings, it was suggested that the Mishkan is man’s delineation of temporal, sacred/mundane space as a cap to his creation of culture, be it spiritual or mundane. I assume this to be the case because of the very unusual language in our text beginning in chapter 35 verse 30-35 where language such as “chochmat lev” and “tevunah v’daat” are used, to the beginning of verses of chapter 36 where this same type of language is applied again. It is the language of a society in formation; a society that it is at the cusp of developing its cultural norms and values.
It is no coincidence that in chapter 40 verse 33 the text reads, upon the completion of the Mishkan “vayichal Moshe et hamlacha”, “Moses completed the work”. Sound familiar? Similar language was used at the conclusion of the creation story. In Bereshit, chapter 2 verse 2, at the conclusion of creation God said: “vayichal elohim bayom hashvii melachto asher asa”, “by the seventh day God completed His work which He had done”. Whereas the Shabbat is our non-temporal sacred space, given to us by God as the cap to His creation; the Mishkan is man’s delineation of temporal, sacred/mundane space as a cap to his creation of culture, be it spiritual or mundane. With the work of completing the building of the Mishkan, Moshe has also brought to closure the exodus from Egypt.
The exodus from Egypt wasn’t only a physical deliverance, but also a spiritual and intellectual journey. Otherwise why employ the language of “chochmat lev” and “tevunah v’daat”. The construction of the Mishkan, although physical had to symbolize not only the physical freedom, but the freedom from spiritual repression.
As the Hebrews turned their back on Egypt they looked to the future. If Egypt represented a physically, intellectually and spiritually repressive society, then the new one they were building would be an open society. As the Mishkan was built by those who exhibited “chochmat lev” so too, would their culture be one of “chochma” and “tevunah”. The Mishkan wasn’t a fixed structured embedded in place, becoming cumbersome and difficult to maneuver, but was light, airy and very portable. In a sense, flexible so that it could accommodate the climate and circumstances of a nomadic existence. It carried the message of its builders, men who were infused with “chochma” to be open and accommodating, exploring new ideas and concepts adapting to a changing environment, keeping the Word relevant for all time.