In Parshat Pekudei, Shmot 39:32 we read: “Thus was completed the work of the Mishkan (Tabernacle) of Ohel Moed (the Tent of Meeting). B’nei Yisrael did everything just as God commanded Moshe, so they did.”
Did B’nai Yisrael as a whole do everything that God commanded Moshe? Did the whole nation of Israel make the Mishkan?
Abravanel explains that the fact that B’nai Yisrael brought the materials also counts as making the Mishkan even if not everyone actually crafted it.
Ohr HaChayim does not count bringing the materials as actually making the Mishkan. He explains that the Torah can be observed collectively, by the people as a whole, each individual deriving benefit from the observance of his neighbor and each individual’s performance complimenting that of the other.
We learn this from the concept of “And you shall love your neighbor as yourself”-your neighbor’s welfare will contribute to yours and through him you compliment your own perfection.
Even if Betzalel and the other wise hearted craftsmen and craftswomen were the ones who physically made the Mishkan, the whole nation is included as one.
The same is true for the Jewish community. Ohr HaChayim points out that it is impossible for one person to observe all 613 mitzvot. Some are for Kohanim, some are for Leviim, some are for men, some are for women. When each person fulfills the mitzvoth that they are personally obligated in then the entire Torah is observed.
Nehama Leibowitz explains: “Our Torah is a social code designed for observance in the communal context and not for a solitary Robinson Crusoe on his desert island… The Torah can only be realized in practice by the nation as a whole and the Mishkan was constructed by the nation as a whole.
We now understand why Hillel taught in Pirkei Avot 2:5: “Don’t separate yourself from the community.”
When the community is together, different members make up for the shortfalls of others. If a member of the congregation looses concentration while praying with a minyan, they are still considered part of the public prayer service. One who prays alone does not have that luxury.
Israeli society is made up of a lot of different types of people from different backgrounds with diverse talents yet each and every person has something to contribute which is what makes the State of Israel so special.