In this week’s parshah when commanding Moshe regarding the construction of the Mishkan- the Tabernacle- the command is in the singular saying, “you shall cover it in gold”, “you shall cast for it” and “you shall make staves. Other times, we find the Torah using the plural when speaking to all of Am Yisrael, saying “they shall make a sanctuary for me so that I may dwell among them” and, “they shall make me an Ark” (Shemot 24:8-13)
Regarding the Mishkan, the use of the plural form is understandable because the contributions that were made towards the construction of the Mishkan came from Am Yisrael. Yet with regards to the Ark, the use of the plural form is unclear. Midrash Rabbah clarifies this when it teaches:
“Why is that regarding all the vessels of the Mishkan the Torah says “You shall make” and when speaking of the Ark it says “They shall make”? Rabbi Yehuda, son of Rabbi Shalom said: Hashem said that all of Am Yisrael should be involved in the construction of the Ark, so that they will merit the Torah.”
Ramban quotes this Midrash and explains that each member of Am Yisrael either donated gold for the construction (in addition to their contribution for the Mishkan) or helped Betzalel in its construction or at least had intent to take part in its construction.
We learn from the Ramban that there are three levels of “They shall make”:
1. Financial contribution to the construction of the Ark.
2. Taking part physically in the construction of the Ark.
3. Directing one’s heart and thoughts to the construction of the Ark.
This idea is relevant when we ponder the idea of the Mikdash. Yearning for the Mikdash is considered as contributing to its construction even when building it is impossible. Throughout the long years of exile we have been unable to involve ourselves in the actual construction of the Mikdash. The most we could do is look towards Har HaBayit with sorrow and longing.
Now that we have returned to Eretz Yisrael, we have the sense that it is time to move beyond longing. While there are certainly many practical and Halachic issues to be settled before building the Beit HaMikdash, the Six Day War and the capture of Har HaBayit have set the stage for Israeli sovereignty over Har HaBayit. There is great interest concerning the Mikdash as evidenced by the many Yeshivot and Institutes dedicated to learning all the relevant Halachot. Yet there has been no action taken to establish Israeli sovereignty.
The solution is to strengthen the longing of the Jewish People for Har HaBayit and the Mikdash. The more we understand the value of the Mikdash and its significance for the life of the Jewish Nation, the greater our desire to see Israeli sovereignty and the building of the Beit HaMikdash. As we learn from Rabbi Yehuda HaLevy in the Kuzari, “Jerusalem will indeed be rebuilt when the People of Israel long for it with such desire that it’s stones and dirt will reunite.”