“These are the accounts of the Tabernacle, the Tabernacle of Testimony which was calculated by Moshe through the service of the Levites,under Ithamar the son of Aaron the priest. Betzalel son of Uri son of Chur, of the tribe of Judah,used thses materials to make all that Hashem had commanded Moses.” (Parshat Pekudei; ch’38; pesukim 21,22).
The Seforno comments on the above verses, that the Torah is enumerating the spiritual attributes of the Mishkan –
1) It was a Mishkan which housed the Two Tablets of Testimony.
2) It was a Mishkan constructed under the guidance of Moshe.
3)It was a Mishkan in which the Levites served.
4) It was a Mishkan whose construction was overseen by Betzalel who delegated righteous and special artisans to build it.
It was those attributes which should ensure that the Mishkan exist for eternity and that it not fall into the hands of the enemy. In Massechet Sotah 9a, the gemara explains that once the 1st Temple was built, the materials of the mishkan were “nignaz“- concealed. [In contrast, the 1st Temple which was constructed by foreign artisans from Tzur, was destined to be destroyed by the Bablonian enemy.]
What emerges from the Seforno is that the eternity of the Beit Hamikdash is dependent on the pure intentions of those who build it and not on the quality of the building material.
It is appropriate to quote a story from Massechet Baba Metzia 85b which underscores the theme of the Seforno. The gemara records what Rabi Chiyah did to guarantee that Torah would not be forgotten from the Jewish people. He said that “I would sow flax and from them I would create nets. With the nets I captured deers. The deer’s flesh I gave to the orphans and from the hides I prepared scrolls on which I wrote the Five books of Moses. I went to towns where there was no teacher and taught five children, each one a book of the Five books, as well as teaching them the six orders of the mishnah… ”
The Vilna Gaon comments that no doubt it was easier and certainly less time consuming for Rabi Chiyah to have purchased a net from a shop, or even to have bought ready made scrolls. Rabi Chiyah though was not satisfied with the children learning Torah; he wanted a type of Torah that would not be forgotten from ‘Am Yisrael’ – and for that type of Torah, all the preparatory stages of pure intentions are a prerequisite.
In our age of taking short cuts to gain some time, the Seforno’s message of dedicating more time in order to invest our actions with more holiness is all the more apt – especially as it affords us a taste of Eternity.