In Parshat Trumah, we read about how B’nai Yisrael gave generously of their own volition for the building of the Mishkan (Tabernacle) as it says in Shmot 25:2, “Have them take for Me a Trumah offering. From every man whose heart impels him to generosity shall you take my Terumah offering.” It was the generosity of B’nai Yisrael which brought the nation to bring the materials needed for the building of the Mishkan. In Shmot 36:5-7 we see that B’nai Yisrael were so enthusiastic and brought so much that there was enough and they were told not to bring anything else.
In Shmot 38:8 we see that the women donated the copper for the basin by giving away their personal mirrors and in Shmot 35:25-26 we read “And every wise hearted women spun with her hands; and they brought the spun yarn of greenish-blue wool, crimson wool and fine linen. And all of the women whose hearts inspired them with wisdom, spun the goat’s hair.
It is clear from here that the entire nation was excited about the construction of the Mishkan and happy to volunteer their skills and possessions.
In contrast, Rabbi Yisaschar Yaakovson points out that when we read the Haftara from Melachim (Kings I 5:26-6:14) we find in sentences 27-28 that “King Solomon imposed a levy from all Israel; the levy consisted of thirty thousand men. He sent them to Lebanon in shifts of ten thousand each month; for one month they would be in Lebanon and for two months each would be at home. Adoniram was in charge of the levy.”
This levy conjures up images of the levy that was placed on B’nai Yisrael by Pharaoh in Egypt. The difference is that this time the levy was placed by the King of Israel.
Another contrast is that the Mishkan was built in the desert solely by members of B’nai Yisrael who volunteered and in Shlomo’s time the Beit HaMikdash was built together with Hiram as they were at peace with Tyre.
We can see a big difference between the grassroots building of the Mishkan out of love, sincerity and spirituality and the building of a fancy Temple along with a foreign ruler where forced labor was imposed upon the nation.
The model of the building of the Mishkan seems like a better model for us to follow today. It is better for the community to get excited about a cause and take part in creating it together as opposed to being forced into building a fancy and expensive building.
It is interesting to note that in Parshat Trumah it says (Shmot 25:8) “They shall make a sanctuary for Me and I will dwell in their midst” while at the end of the Haftarah (Melacim I 6:13) it says: “I shall dwell among B’nai Yisrael, and I shall not forsake My people Israel.”
In the end, even without the beautiful building, if we are worthy God will dwell among the nation of Israel.