G-d is in the detail
Parshat Vayakhel is a detailed account of the construction of the vessels for the Mishkan and the building of the Mishkan itself.
The Torah often withholds pertinent information from us in order that we glean the details of the law from the oral Torah. However, there are times when the Torah is supposedly verbose about “irrelevant” details. For example, it details the descendants of Esav or the repetition of Pharaoh’s dream. Similarly the slave, Eliezer’s, recounting of events when he searched for a wife for his master, Yitzchak. Why the Torah does this is often a mystery.
This week’s parsha is another example of the Torah going into great detail about a topic that seemingly has no relevance to our lives. The Torah describes the construction and creation of the Mishkan in the minutest of detail.
The Kli Yakar with his great brilliance and insight has some explanations about why the Torah goes into the excruciating details of every measurement of the Mishkan’s construction.
The Kli Yakar looks at the three vessels that had crowns – the ark, the table, and the small golden altar. He explains that these crowns represent none other than the three crowns enumerated by Pirkei Avot. The ark which housed the Torah and the tablets represents the Crown of Torah. The table represents the Crown of Kingship, and the altar, the Crown of Priesthood.
But his genius comes to the fore when he analyses the measurements delineated by the Torah. He points out how the ark’s measurements are all in fractions, the altar’s is whole numbers, and the table has a mixture of fractions and whole numbers.
He explains that when it comes to Torah (represented by the ark) one can never attain completion in one’s understanding or mastery of Torah. This is why the measurements are all in fractions.
When it comes to the table, one should, on the one hand, view one’s wealth as complete and be totally satisfied with one’s portion. However, on the other hand, one should never strive to fill oneself up, but rather be lacking in some respects.
Finally, the altar, which represents service of Hashem, cannot be fractured at all. One’s devotion and commitment has to be total and unwavering and therefore, the measurements are all whole numbers.
This should open our eyes to the fact that the Torah in its infallibility has many secrets and mysteries for us to discover that are indeed very relevant to our daily lives.