Meditating on the Mishkan

כְּכֹל אֲשֶׁר אֲנִי מַרְאֶה אוֹתְךָ אֵת תַּבְנִית הַמִּשְׁכָּן וְאֵת תַּבְנִית כָּל כֵּלָיו וְכֵן תַּעֲשׂוּ

As He prepares to instruct the Jewish people on the details of the Mishkan, G-d issues a warning: This is to be done in accordance with all that I have shown you – regarding the form of both the mishkan and its vessels.

Given the detail of the parsha, Ktav Sofer wonders what is added by this verse. His answer: The tabernacle and its vessels were highly symbolic, and those engaged in its construction would be prone to injecting special “kavanot” and meaning in each stage of the construction, in each vessel.

However, as in the world of Korbanot, improper thoughts – however well-intentioned –  can invalidate a mitzvah. Our verse is warning us that only those meditations which G-d has specifically transmitted to Moshe must accompany the work.

This understanding must impact our approach to Torah in general: Though we are bidden to try to wrap our minds around the mitzvot, we shouldn’t let our pursuit of טעמי המצוות govern our actions. As the Beit Halevi (in his commentary on Parshat Bo) says, all mitzvot are ultimately “Chukim” – given finite man’s inability to completely grasp the Infinite.

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