Creation of the World and the Building of the Miskan (Tabernacle)
This week´s parashah begins with God´s order to collect donations in order to build the Mishkan and then we have all the instructions Moses received on how to build it. Some sages found that there are many similarities, common action verbs and expressions between the description of the building of the Mishkan and the story of the creation of the world. There are so many similarities that many sages believe it couldn’t be a coincidence.
I would like to share with you those similarities through the following table and then, highlight the underlying message this comparison will reveal.
|Creation of the World -Book of Bereshit||Building of the Mishkan (Tabernacle) – Book of Sh’mot|
|“God made the expanse…” (1:7)||“And let them make Me a sanctuary that I may dwell among them” (25:9)|
|“God made the two great lights…” (1:16)||“They shall make an ark of acacia wood” (25: 10)|
|“God made wild beasts… “(1:25)||“You shall make a lampstand of pure gold” (25:31)|
|“And God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness…” (1:26)||Then all the skilled among those engaged in the work made the Tabernacle (36:8)|
|“And God saw all that He had made, and found it very good…” (1:31)||And Moses saw that they had performed all the tasks—as the LORD had commanded, so they had done (39:43)|
|“On the seventh day God finished the work that He had been doing, and He ceased on the seventh day from all the work that He had done” (2:2)||Moses had finished the work (40:33)|
|“And God blessed the seventh day…||Moses blessed them (39:43)|
|and declared it holy, because on it God ceased from all the work of creation that He had done” (2: 3)||You shall take the anointing oil and anoint the Tabernacle and all that is in it to consecrate it and all its furnishings, so that it shall be holy. (40:9)|
Some reflections about this comparison:
- God’s Creation of the World as a Model for new Creations
God’s Creation of the world is a model for any new creation. God tries to teach us how to create something. We should follow His model. There are many texts that explain how God does something, so we should do the same too. For example: “…Just as the Holy One, Blessed be He, visits the sick, as it is written with regard to God’s appearing to Abraham following his circumcision: “And the Lord appeared unto him by the terebinths of Mamre” (Genesis 18:1), so too, should you visit the sick… (Talmud Bavli Masechet Sotah 14a)
Another example: it is written that on the seventh day, after the creation of the world, God rested. Does God need to rest? Sages answer: no, but God did so to teach us that we should rest on Shabbat.
By doing certain things God shows us how to behave. The creation of the world and the building of the Mishkan are similar. God is showing us how to create something, and the building of the Mishkan is our first opportunity to practice of His lesson.
- Human Beings are God’s Partners in the Creation of the World
God wants to show us that we have the potential to create and build many things like God does. We are like God in this way because we have this skill and potential. God created the world, now it is our mission to create new things and complete the creation our Sovereign started. We are partners in the creation of the world. God started the process, and we continue with our creations.
- God Created our Home, we Build a “Home” for God
This comparison tries to highlight God’s connection to the people of Israel and His love. God created the world, our home, and now the people of Israel are building God’s home, a place where both parties may connect and create a deep relationship.
Building the Mishkan was a way for the people of Israel to show the Creator of the world their willingness to have God very close to them and a way to thank and praise the divine. In every generation, we should build a Mishkan, an open door, to connect ourselves to God.
- We should Renew our Creations
It is written in the Siddur, in the first Blessing before Sh’ma Israel during Shabbat: “God, in His Goodness, renews Creation day after day”. The same way God renews the creation of the world, we should renew our creations and ourselves.
- Appreciating the Creations
After God created the world, he examined it, appreciated it, blessed it and sanctified it. Moses went through the same steps. It teaches us that we should take a time to observe, contemplate, and appreciate our creations. Then, we need to take a time to bless and give thanks for all of our achievements. In addition, we should sanctify our works, to take care of them and make them special for us.
Let’s be inspired by the comparison between the creation of the world and the building of the Mishkan.