Tabernacle’s Inauguration

Moshe Ben-Chaim

A close friend inquired about the Tabernacle’s donations made by Israel’s princes (Numbers, 7:19). Vessels of precise numeric weights, and numbers of sacrificial animals are mentioned as part of the Tabernacle’s donations. Rashi offers interesting correlations between the numeric weights of vessels and the numbers of animals, and between numeric values noted in the Torah. Below I have listed he numbers that Rashi correlated. The “value” column represents either the weight of a donated vessel, or the number of a species sacrificed:

 Value Correlative 930 Adam’s years 130 Adam’s years when his first son was born 620 Noah’s years when his first son was born 70 The nations of the world which emanated from Noah 1 One Torah 10 Ten Commandments 613 Total mitzvos 1 Abraham 1 Isaac 1 Jacob 1 The ram to atone for the sale of Joseph 2 Moses and Aaron 3 3 sets of Jews: Israelites, Levites, Kohanim, also the 3 festivals 3 x 5 2 sets of 5 commands per each tablet, 1 set of the Five Books of Moses

The question of course is, what the significance is of these correlatives? Additionally, what do these correlatives have to do with the inauguration of the tabernacle? Take a moment before reading on. Try to categorize the correlatives.

It is interesting that the correlatives fall into three categories:

 Populating Earth Torah Transmitters Torah

 Value Correlative 930 Adam’s years 130 Adam’s years when his first son was born 620 Noah’s years when his first son was born + 20 years prior to the Flood’s decree 70 The nations of the world which emanated from Noah 1 One Torah 10 Ten Commandments 613 Total mitzvos 1 Abraham 1 Isaac 1 Jacob 1 The ram to atone for the sale of Joseph (?) 2 Moses and Aaron 3 3 sets of Jews: Israelites, Levites, Kohanim, the 3 sections; Torah, Prophets, Writings 3 x 5 2 sets of 5 commands per each tablet, 1 set of the Five Books of Moses

It appears that God’s will here, is that man’s attention be drawn to three concepts upon the erection of the Temple - the completion of the system of the Torah. All else was complete except for the building of the Tabernacle. Upon its completion, God willed that these three categories of importance be recognized as the primary goals of human life:

1) Man must Populate the world; 2) Man must follow/recognize competent Transmitters of the law; and 3) Man must recognize Divine law.

1) The essentiality of man populating the world is self-evident. God created the world for the sake of man to appreciate his Maker. Therefore, all members of mankind must admit to the good which they enjoy as created beings, and bestow that very good on another human, by procreating. The act of procreation is a father’s recognition of his ultimate benefit: God formed him as created, thinking being. Procreation is a father’s endorsement of life - intended by God, for others too. The father follows his Creator’s command to procreate.

The reason why only Adam’s and Noah’s ages at their first child’s’ births are mentioned, although countless others contributed by fathering children, is due to the exclusive role both these men played. They were the only two people who can be considered “population’s forerunners”. Adam was the cause of all mankind, and Noah began the world again in the post-Flood era. No man other than these two can claim such a significant role of populating Earth, without whom, the world would be barren.

2) Why are transmitters of the law essential? We can also ask why God gave the Torah to Moses in the manner He did, i.e., to pass it down, man to man. Why did God not give the Torah to each man individually? Perhaps this would convey a false notion that man is inherently entitled to the Torah. This is not so. Man must toil in Torah to uncover the truths. The more he toils, the deeper the wisdom he penetrates, “If you dig for it like silver, and search it out like a buried treasure, then you will understand the fear of G-d, and the knowledge of G-d will you find” (Proverbs, 2:4-5).

Perhaps, then, the very act of orchestrating a system of ‘transmission’ of the Torah, is to teach the very idea of how profound and deep the Torah is. But why is this idea so essential? Why must man know that Torah is so deep? It is because it reflects on its Creator, and teaches that God has infinite wisdom. Perhaps man’s search for wisdom needs to be fueled by the idea that the Source of all Torah is infinitely wise. Only with this realization will man thrust himself into his learning, guaranteed by this concept that his mining for wisdom will always yield precious gems.

The relevance of the 930 years lived by Adam rides on the coattails of this concept: Adam’s length of days teaches us that the wealth of knowledge in existence far exceeds man’s lifetime. Were man to live a thousand years, he would still just scratch the surface of knowledge. By correlating Adam’s years to the Tabernacle, we realize the amount of learning available far surpasses a man’s lifespan - even one of Adam’s age. It adds to our appreciation of God’s infinite wisdom.

3) The Torah itself required highlighting. Just as in the Tabernacle, the focus was the Ark, which contained the broken tablets, and the Torah, so also the inaugural gifts must embody this concept. In all major areas of Torah, we will find that the Torah and wisdom in general take the spotlight. (See the article: The Ark’s Poles)

According to Rashi these essential and primary concepts must inhere in the inauguration. The inauguration - the final commencement of the Torah system - required a focus on these primary goals of creation. The structure of the Tabernacle was not an end, but a means for achieving these goals. The one method for focusing on the goals was permeating the inaugural services with these concepts.

One point remains unanswered as indicated by the “?: What is the role of the atonement for the sale of Joseph?