Our parasha, Vayakhel, begins with the explicit linkage of Shabbat and the mishkan. The Rav notes that there are three other passages in the Torah where we find a direct connection between Shabbat and the mishkan (Ki Tisa 31: 1-17, Kedoshim 19:30 and Behar 26:2). This leads him to ask, “What is the nature of these intertwined concepts?”
He begins by suggesting that both Shabbat and the tabernacle constitute sanctuaries — one is a sanctuary in time while the other is a sanctuary in space.
G-d wants Jews to establish a residence for Him both in space and in time.
The Jew who has prepared properly for the Sabbath and is about to light his candles finds himself in the same position as the Jew of 2,000 years ago preparing to enter the Sanctuary.
The holiness of the mishkan is supernatural and can never disappear, the Rav explains, “for although the physical Temple was destroyed, the Shechinah is always there. … The Shechinah was both a physical light and a spiritual experience. It was outside of nature and defied the laws of causality, for the mishkan was nothing less than an ongoing miracle that transcended the natural order.”
In contrast, kedushat Shabbat operates within the natural world, demonstrating “G-d’s presence on a natural level. … G-d reveals Himself in the order of nature. One can experience G-d through the blue sky and the flowering bush. All this is enhanced by the awareness of Shabbat, which epitomizes the natural order at rest.
“G-d has no desire to interfere with the natural order. Each individual must pause … to take G-d’s presence within the natural order into account.”
Given this distinction, we may wonder if the supernatural nature (l’ma’alah min hateva) of the mishkan/Beit HaMikdash has primacy over Shabbat. The Rav addresses this issue in an unequivocable manner: “We have survived 2,000 years without the Beit ha-Mikdash, but we could never have survived without Shabbat. … Jewish survival is not bound up with the mishkan. While the mishkan is a lofty and important place, we must remember … Shabbat, which is essential to Jewish survival, is stronger.”
May the time come soon, and in our days, when we will experience kedushat Shabbat as we bear witness to the transcendent holiness of the newly rebuilt Beit HaMikdash. V’chane yihi ratzon.