Rabbi Moshe Pinchuk
Former Rosh Kollel (Melbourne, 1998-2001)
Currently Head of the Beit Midrash in Netanya College
Many varied materials were needed for the construction of the Mishkan. Amongst them were Gold and Tachash skins. Concerning Gold the Medrash says:
“א” ר שמעון בן לקיש לא היה העולם ראוי להשתמש בזהב ולמה נברא בשביל המשכן ובשביל בית המקדש) .”לה שמות רבה /א(.
“Reish Lakish says: The world was not worthy of using gold. Why then was it created? For the purpose of the Mishkan and Beit Hamikdash.”
The world enjoys Gold as a spin-off benefit of the construction of the Mishkan!
On the other hand, concerning the Tachash skins, the same Reish Lakish is quoted in the Talmud (Shabbat 28b) as saying:
“ אמר רבי אלעא אמר רבי שמעון בן לקיש אומר היה רבי מאיר תחש שהיה בימי משה בריה בפני עצמה היה… ולפי שעה נזדמן לו למשה ועשה ממנו משכן ונגנז.”
In distinction to Gold, Tachash was a temporary creation it was created for the sole use of the Mishkan and subsequently became extinct.
How are we to understand and explain the different fates of Gold and Tachash? I believe the key lies in the different usage they had in Mishkan: The Gold was used mainly for the most basic and important features of the Mishkan: Aron Hakodesh, Shulchan, Menorah and Mizbeach Hazahav.
The Tachash skins were used exclusively as the outermost and topmost covering over the roof of the Mishkan – indeed in The Beit Mikdash it was not even needed.
Moving from the model to the full scale original, I suggest that such a concept of gold and Tachash exists in Halacha:
Gold represents the eternal ideas, values and goals of Judaism; Tachash skins represent their specific implementation in any given generation. The Tachash is to be viewed as the interface between eternal values and a particular reality. Thus Gold is forever and Tachash of the days of Moses is obsolete and useless in any other generation.