When the parts of the Mishkan were completed, the Mishkan was then dedicated in the Shmonas Yimei Hamilu'im, 8 days in which it was assembled and taken down. For the first seven days, it was assembled by Aharon and his sons, the kohanim. On the eight day, Moshe assembled the Mishkan.
What was the purpose of this? If the building of the Mishkan was just practice, to learn how to do it in the future, Moshe would have demonstrated to the kohanim how to assemble the Mishkan on the first day, not the last, after they've done it seven times already.
Rav Samson Rephael Hirsch sees in these 8 days a symbol for the subsequent history of all of the sanctuaries. The Mishkan was assembled in five places: Sinai, Gilgal, Shilo, Nov, and Gideon. After the Mishkan, we have had two Batei Mikdash so far, and await the building of the third. In all, sanctuaries are built eight times in Jewish history.
There is a famous Aggadita that explains why Moshe Rabbeinu could not be the one to take us into Eretz Yisrael. Anything Moshe did is permanent. This is important, because if it were possible to abrogate one thing that he did, it brings into question the permanence of the Torah. However, Hashem knew that the time would come when the Jews would deserve punishment. By having Joshua bring us into Israel, it made the choice of exile a possible punishment.
This makes Rabbiner Hirsch's comment even more interesting. On the eighth day the assembly was done by Moshe. The eighth day also parallels the Third Beis Hamikdosh, which will never be destroyed. Moshe was not merely participating in the consecration of the Mishkan, but also was demonstrating the permanence of the Messianic age. The Temple will not fall again, there will be no more exiles.
But what gave Moshe Rabbeinu's actions the power of permanence?
We find that Hashem uses two adjectives to describe Moshe. The first is anav, modest. "And the man Moshe was very modest." (Bamidbar 12:3) Modesty is a necessary precondition for prophecy. If one is too full of himself, there is no room for G-d. If everything you perceive is colored by what you want to hear, then you can't hear Hashem.
The second, is that Hashem calls him "Moses My servant", Moshe Avdi. "Moshe avdi is not like that" (ibid 7). Hirsch finds a similarity between eved, with an ayin, and avad, with an aleph. Avad means lost. Eved, with the voiced ayin instead of the silent aleph, means one whose will, desires, and self-identity are occluded by another's. Moshe Avdi, therefor, means, Moshe, who made his desires secondary to Mine.
Both adjectives, anav and eved, describe Moshe Rabbeinu as one who placed his own desires second. Everything Moshe did was lisheim Shamayim (for the sake of heaven). His actions were an expression of Hashem's will.
R. Yochanan Hasandler (Avos 4:14) describes what gives permanence to a congregation. "Any congregation which is lisheim Shamayim will end up existing, and congregation which is not lisheim Shamayim will not end up existing."
Perhaps this too is the source of the permanence of Moshe Rabbeinu's actions. Just as a congregation that is lisheim Shamayim endures, so too other activities.
Chazal comment on the phrase "Mishkan Ha'eidus" (the Mishkan, dwelling place, of testimony), "Sheyitmashkein ba'avonos Yisrael", it will be made temporary through the sins of Israel. Divrei Shaul writes that this is because it was built by Betzalel, a human being. However, the third Beis Hamikdosh, "tivneh chomos Yerushalayim -- You will build the walls of Jerusalem" (Tehillim 51:20). Hashem will build it, and so it will be permanent.
It is not clear how literally to take the idea that Hashem will build it. In Hilchos Melachim, the Rambam clearly describes the building as part of the role of the Melech Hamoshiach. How then would the Rambam understand "tivneh chomos Yerushalayim"?
We said that the building of the third Beis Hamikdosh was foreshadowed by Moshe assembling the Mishkan on the eighth day. Perhaps this is to indicate that the third Beis Hamikdosh will be built by people, who like Moshe, are acting entirely lisheim Shamayim, with no element of personal motivation. Since "a person's messenger is like himself", it could be said poetically that Hashem was doing the building, even though the king will be leading it. Since it is being done lisheim Shamayim, it would still have the permanence described in the Divrei Shaul.
We hold that in general "mitzvos einum tzrichos kavanah -- mitzvos do not require intent". (Exceptions are those mitzvos, like tephillah, where intent is the who substance of the mitzvah.) But look how much is lost when we do this minimal requirement! The mitzvah is robbed of its ability to have lasting impact!
To truly get value out of the mitzvos, we have to explore our motivations. I am doing this because that is how I was raised? Or because it will impress my neighbors with my "frumkeit"? Hashem tells me to do this, but why? What can I learn and take with me from the deed I am about to do?
Perhaps by focusing on doing things lisheim Shamayim, we can merit to be the generation that builds the third Beis Hamikdosh (which will be done lisheim Shamayim), speedily, in our days, Amein.© 1995 The AishDas Society