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Parshat Tetzaveh - The Connection Between Shabbat and the Mishkan

By: Rav Yechezkel Yakovson

(summarized and translated by Alexis Levy)


The Mishkan and Shabbat are linked to each other. In Parshat Vayakhel in Perek 35 we read:

1) And Moshe assembled all the congregation of the Bnei Yisrael, and said to them: “These are the words which Hashem has commanded, that you should do them.

2) Six days work shall be done, but on the seventh day there shall be to you a holy day, a Shabbat of solemn rest to Hashem; who does any work then shall be put to death.


Rashi says that Hashem told Moshe to command us to build the Mishkan but not on Shabbat. Chazal learn from this that on Shabbat we don’t do the 39 Melachot that were done in order to build the Mishkan. We also learn something else: the Torah forbids Melechet Machshevet. Melachot that are important or need intelligence are forbidden on Shabbat. How did Chazal learn that Melechet Machshevet is also forbidden? We learn this from the Mishkan because they did Melechet Machshevet in the building of the Mishkan, which we see in connection to Betzalel.


Why is there a special connection between Shabbat and the Mishkan? Why is there a mitzva of Shmirat Shabbat?


Some people are under the impression that Hashem gave us Shabbat as a “day of rest” after working so hard for 6 days of the week. This is included but is certainly not the main point of Shabbat.


Someone who transgresses the Shabbat is liable to be put to death and is thought of as if he served Avodah Zara. Someone who is Someone who transgresses the Shabbat and touches wine, the wine becomes yayin nesech.


If the punishment for transgressing the Shabbat is so harsh, how can it be that Shabbat is merely a “day of rest”?


The primary point of Shabbat is that it is a “Yom Emunah” a “Day of faith”). Someone who transgresses the Shabbat rejects Hashem. Hashem wants us to remember and say, as we do in Kiddush, that Hashem created the world in six days and rested on the seventh. This is important to declare, to refute the gentiles, that there is a Creator in the world. By keeping Shabbat, it is a sign of emunah and by transgressing the Shabbat it is a sign of heresy. Someone who keeps the mitzvot of Shabbat, is proclaiming that they believe that Hashem created the world and rested on Shabat.


“Make for me a sanctuary and I will dwell in them”– this is the Mishkan.Hashem wants us to build him a “home”. He is saying: “Children of Israel. I built a world for you in six days and I rested on Shabbat, I want you to build for Me a “home”, to build it for 6 days and to rest on the seventh.”



There are many examples of similarities between the creation of the world and Beit Hamikdash: Such as:

1. “And the creation of the heavens and the earth was completed (bereishit 2:1) is similar to “Thus was finished all of the work of the Mishkan” (Shmot 39:32).

2. There is a bracha regarding the creation of the world and the Mishkan.

3. The word “Vaya’as” appears many times in both accounts.


Hashem says that He built a house for us and now we are to build a house for Him. Therefore, the foundation for forbidden melacha on Shabbat is from the building of the mishkan. The place where it is so important to remember Shabbat is at the time we are building the “home of Hashem”.



There is another connection between Shabbat and the Mishkan. The Ramban says, at the beginning of Parshat Terumah, that the mishkan is a continuation of the experience at Har Sinai, but in miniature. Whatever happened at har Sinai on a large scale, was replicated in the mishkan on a smaller scale. There is a repetition of “the Glory of Hashem” in both places; Hashem spoke to Moshe from the cloud on top of Har Sinai, and in the Mishkan, Hashem spoke to him from a cloud between the Chruvim.


However, there is one difference between our experience at Har Sinai and the Mishkan. At Har Sinai, the people were passive, they didn’t do anything. The Mishkan is different, Bnei Yisrael built a “home for Hashem”, they are active from the beginning to the end; they did everything.


In reality, this is the job of a person in this world. Hashem doesn’t want us to be angels, He has those already, He wants us to be holy people (“anshei kodesh”).


We are meant to be involved in the physical world. And more than that: we are to make the Shechina permeate the physical world. This is the idea of the Mishkan: to “bring Hashem down” to this world. However, we cannot be in this world all the time. We also need one day a week that is completely kadosh: Shabbat. Shabbat is a time for us to analyze our connection to Hashem so that we do not forget our goal of having Hashem dwell amongst us as anshei Kodesh.







Categorized under: 1: Parshat Shavua > Tetzaveh