Betzalel, Ohaliav and their team of wise-hearted workers complete one of the greatest building projects of all time – The Mishkan, it’s sacred contents and the priestly garments. This fact, that they were appointed and carried out the work, is reiterated over and over again.
So why then, at the end of the parasha, are told that the work was done by all the Jewish people? To say everyone donated, I could understand, but to say everyone actually worked on it is just not true according to what we’ve read repeatedly up until now.
The Ohr HaChaim answers with a fascinating and fundamental idea. He reminds us that we have 365 transgressions to avoid and 248 positive commands to fulfill, and each is connected to a specific part of the body, and that performance of each Mitzva positively impacts that part of the body. He asks how is it possible for one Jew to have that positive impact on his whole body – some Mitzvos are only for women, some only for a Kohen, some only for a king etc. – no one can do all of them!? He answers that when one Jew is connected to another Jew, both have a share in each other’s Mitzvas. So when a Yisrael has a Kohen friend, the Yisrael has a share in his Mitzvas and gets some credit for them.
When, and only when, there’s love and unity in the nation, we all are in a better place as individuals too, we all get credit for each other’s deeds – even deeds we could never actually do ourselves. This is how the building of the Mishkan was attributed to all the Jewish people.
May we merit to see unity and love in our nation very soon, and all be in a better place. Together.