The dramatic, triumphant conclusion of Sefer Shmot seems to end on a 'sour note': although the Sh'china returns, Moshe Rabbeinu cannot enter the Mishkan! [See 40:34-35.]
Did something go wrong? Was Moshe unworthy?
To answer this question, this week's shiur examines a textual parallel between the conclusion of Parshat Pekudei and Parshat Mishpatim, which will help us understand the relationship between the books of Shmot, Vayikra and Bamidbar.
The concluding psukim of Parshat Pekudei lend irrefutable support to the Ramban's explanation of the Mishkan as a perpetuation of Ma'amad Har Sinai (see Ramban on 25:1). To explain how, we begin this week's shiur by comparing the Torah's description of the Sh'china's descent onto the Mishkan to its almost identical description of the Sh'china's descent upon Har Sinai (in Parshat Mishpatim).
The final chapter of Parshat Pekudei tells of Moshe Rabbeinu assembling the Mishkan on the first day of Nisan (in the second year - see 40:1-33). Once all the pieces are together, Sefer Shmot concludes its description of these events as follows:
"The anan (cloud) covered the Ohel Mo'ed, and Kvod Hashem (God's glory) filled the Mishkan." (see 40:34)In Parshat Mishpatim, a similar description appears in the context of Moshe's ascent to Har Sinai:
"And Moshe ascended the mountain and an anan covered the mountain, and Kvod Hashem dwelled upon Har Sinai..." (24:15-16)Thus, the Ohel Mo'ed replaces the mountain and, correspondingly, the Mishkan replaces Har Sinai. The reason is simple. The essence of Har Sinai is one and the same with that of the Mishkan: they both serve as a medium whereby Bnei Yisrael can 'encounter' the Sh'china.
Furthermore, as we discussed in our shiur on Parshat Tezaveh, in both instances a direct encounter is impossible. Instead, man must be shielded from God's Presence by an anan. (See Board #1.)
Although this comparison appears simple and straightforward, the next pasuk in each of these two sources seems to 'ruin' this parallel. When the Sh'china descends upon Har Sinai, Moshe actually enters the anan:
"And Kvod Hashem dwelled on Har Sinai and the cloud covered it for six days, and God called to Moshe on the seventh day... and Moshe came inside the anan and ascended the mountain." (24:16-18)In Parshat Pekudei, by contrast:
"And Moshe was unable to enter the Ohel Mo'ed, because the anan was dwelling upon it..." (40:35)Certainly, our parallel would have been much stronger had Sefer Shmot similarly concluded with God 'calling' upon Moshe to enter the Mishkan, just as He had 'called' upon him to enter the anan at Har Sinai. But for some reason, Moshe cannot enter. Has Moshe been demoted? Or, alternatively, has the Mishkan-replica of Har Sinai been demoted?
In case you haven't figured it out yet, to solve this problem we simply need to 'turn the page' and read the opening pasuk of Sefer Vayikra:
"And [God] called out to Moshe, and God spoke to him from the Ohel Mo'ed saying..." (Vayikra 1:1)[See commentaries of Rashbam and Ibn Ezra on Shmot 40:35, and Rashbam and Ramban on Vayikra 1:1!]
Thus, in order to complete the parallel between the Mishkan and Har Sinai, we must take the first pasuk of Sefer Vayikra and append it, if you will, to the end of Sefer Shmot. As Board #2 illustrates, our parallel now becomes complete.
But if this parallel is indeed correct, then the first pasuk of Vayikra actually belongs at the end of Sefer Shmot! Why does the Torah begin a new "sefer" in the middle of a story?
To answer this question, we must carefully study the closing psukim of Sefer Shmot.
A Double Finale
Our understanding of Vayikra 1:1 as the logical continuation of Shmot 40:34-35 (see Board #3) works only if these are indeed the final psukim of Sefer Shmot. However, Shmot 40:35 is not the end of Sefer Shmot! Rather, three more psukim (i.e. 40:36-38), which appear to interrupt this logical progression, follow:
"And when the anan lifted from the Mishkan, Bnei Yisrael would travel. If it would not lift, they would not travel... For the anan was upon the Mishkan during the day and fire would appear in it by night, before the eyes of Bnei Yisrael throughout all their travels." (40:36-38)(See Board #4.) Despite their obvious connection to the first two psukim (40:34-35) as they relate to the concept of the anan, these psukim address an entirely different issue - the effect of this anan on Bnei Yisrael's journey through the desert.
In fact, these three psukim seem not only 'in the way,' but also out of place - they simply don't belong here. As those of you proficient in Parshat Bha'alotcha must have noticed, these psukim are repeated almost verbatim in Sefer Bamidbar, when the Torah describes Bnei Yisrael's traveling protocol in the desert:
"On the day that the Mishkan was set up, the anan covered the Mishkan... and in the evening it appeared as fire... And when the anan lifted from the Ohel [Mo'ed], then Bnei Yisrael would travel, and at the place where the anan rested Bnei Yisrael would set up their camp... " (see Bamidbar 9:15-23)[Note how the opening pasuk points us directly to Shmot chapter 40 - the day of "hakamat HaMishkan." We'll get back to that later.]
Thus, the three final psukim of Sefer Shmot clearly belong in Sefer Bamidbar, as they involve Bnei Yisrael's mode of journey through the desert. [Note how the next chapter in Sefer Bamidbar (10:1-36) narrates Bnei Yisrael's actual departure from Har Sinai.]
Apparently, Sefer Shmot concludes with these three psukim since these special 'travel regulations' result directly from the dwelling of the anan upon the Mishkan.
Our analysis thus far has shown that the final five psukim of Sefer Shmot divide into two distinct topics, each of which points us to a different Sefer:
B) 40:36-38 describes how Bnei Yisrael journey through the desert in accordance with this anan, and continues directly into Sefer Bamidbar.
The significance of this "double-pointer" relates to God's original plan after the Exodus, that Bnei Yisrael:
B) Travel to (and conquer) the Land of Israel.
Now that Bnei Yisrael have built the Mishkan and God's Sh'china has returned, God once again commits Himself, as it were, to both elements of His original plan:
B) In Sefer Bamdibar, Bnei Yisrael travel towards the Promised Land accompanied by the Sh'china.
B) Secondly, it affects the "machaneh" - the camp of Israel, as reflected in Sefer Bamidbar. The presence of the Sh'china raises the entire camp of Israel to a higher level, as God travels, as it were, with them. The camp is arranged in such a formation that it surrounds the Mishkan (Bamidbar, Naso), and Bnei Yisrael travel through the desert following the anan over the Mishkan (Bha'alotcha). Had Bnei Yisrael not sinned, Sefer Bamidbar would have concluded with the story of their conquest of the Land (Matot, Masei). Instead, it explains why that generation didn't enter the land (Shlach, Korach), as well as the events of the fortieth year (Balak, Pinchas).
2) In Sefer Vayikra (9:1-10:7), we find the details of the special korbanot offered on Yom HaShmini. [According to most commentators, this day coincides with the first of Nisan. See, for example, Rashi.] Those special korbanot and the other tragic events that occurred that day (the death of Nadav and Avihu) relate to many mitzvot found in Sefer Vayikra. Therefore, that narrative is recorded in Sefer Vayikra, as well.
3) In Sefer Bamidbar (7:1-89), we find the story of the special gift brought by the N'si'im to the Mishkan on the day of its dedication - six wagons and twelve oxen (see 7:1-4 with Rashi). These wagons were used by the Leviim to transport the Mishkan during travel. Therefore, this account appears in Sefer Bamidbar (as are the psukim cited earlier describing the anan - 9:15-23).
We will return to this theme in our study of both Sefer Vayikra and Sefer Bamidbar. Till then,
For Further Iyun
A. Note the importance of the date of the first of Nisan in Shmot chapter 40. Relate God's selection and designation of this date to Parshat HaChodesh (Shmot 12:1-20 with Rashi).
Relate this as well to the importance of this date in Divrei HaYamim II 29:1-17.
Relate the main points of the above shiur to Shmot 29:45-46, specifically the purpose of Yetziat Mitzraim (to worship God in the desert or to inherit the Promised Land - see also Shmot 3:6-12).
[Relate your answer as well to the main point of our shiur on Parshat Tezaveh.]