The word HaMishkan, which refers to the Tabernacle, is mentioned in the opening verse of this week’s portion. It is immediately followed again by the word Mishkan. Since every letter of the Torah is sacred why is this word repeated?
The great commentator, Rashi, explains that the Mishkan, the Tabernacle, built by the Jews in the desert, was used only during the 39 years of their travels in the desert. It was never lost or destroyed, and after the Jews were heralded into the Land of Israel by their leader Yehoshua, the Tabernacle’s beams, sockets and coverings were safely and securely hidden.
The word Mishkan – Temple is spelled with the same letters as the word Mashkan – collateral – but with different vowels.
The repetition of the word Mishkan, alludes to the two Temples that would be built in Jerusalem and would eventually be destroyed. The first Temple was destroyed by the Babylonians and the second by the Romans. G-d says, “After the Temples are destroyed due to the sins of the Jewish people, I will hold them as a Mashkon – collateral – that I will hold Myself responsible to provide the Jews with an everlasting third Temple when they become worthy of it.
Rabbi Moshe Sofer o.b.m., famously known as the Chasam Sofer, tells us that there is a hint in the repeated words Hamishkan, Mishkan to the years that the Holy Temples in Jerusalem stood. The Gematria – numerical value of the Hebrew word Mishkan is 410, which is the amount of years the first Temple stood.
The Gematria – numerical value of the word HaMishkan is 415, and if you add the five letters of the word itself, you come up with the number 420, the exact number of years that the second Temple stood!
What is the significance of adding the five letters of the word to complete the 420?
The Talmud relates that the second Temple was not on the same level of spirituality as the first Temple. There were five significant things that were missing: The Holy Ark of Testimony that contained the Ten Commandments, along with the Cherubs and golden lid had been hidden in the recesses of the Temple by King Yoshiyahu at the end of the first Temple. It was missing in the second Temple. Prophecy, and Ruach Hakodesh – the holy spirit that rests on great people came to an end at the beginning of the construction of the second Temple. The miraculous fire, in the shape of a crouching lion, on top of the Altar in the Temple which was never extinguished by the rain or winds did not exist in the second Temple. The script that contained the the secret 72 letter name of G-d, which was placed in the flap of the breastplate of the High Priest, was also missing in the second Temple.
Thus, says the Chasam Sofer, counting the five letters of the word Hamishkan to complete the number 420, the amount of years the second Temple existed – makes sense, for they represent the five items that were missing in the second Temple.
Interestingly, the next word the Torah states after Hamishkan, Mishkan is Ha’adus. The Gematria – numerical value of Ha’aidus is 479.
Commentators explain that the number 479 alludes to a time period as well.
There were five temporary Temples that the Jews had before the first Temple was built. The first was the Tabernacle in the desert which functioned for 39 years. Once the Jews entered into Israel they set up a Temple in Gilgal which ran for 14 years. Then a Temple was built in Shilo and it operated for 369 years. After the Philistines stole the Holy Ark from the Shilo Temple, it was disbanded and a temporary Temple without the Ark was set up in a place called Nov where it remained for 13 years. Then the Temple was moved to Givon where it remained for 44 years.
When you tally the years from when the first Tabernacle was built until the first Holy Temple was completed, it comes to 479 years the Gematria of the word Ha’aidus! – You can’t make this up!