In our quest to develop a close and strong connection to Hashem, we find that our efforts fall into the categories of עבודה and תפילה. While תפילה may basically be limited to the arena of a בית כנסת, עבודה finds itself taking on many shapes and forms.
The Chatam Sofer on our Parsha )כה:ב( asks the famous question on the use of the word ויקחו as opposed to ויתנו. The materials should be given by כלל ישראל, not taken from them! He answers this by referring to the גמרא in ברכות לה. which says that before a ברכה the object is owned by Hashem, לה' הארץ ומלואה. After the ברכה the object falls under our רשות, והארץ נתן לבני אדם. The materials contributed to the משכן are undoubtedly the property of Hashem as is the whole universe. However, when we take those items and use them for some type of עבודה, we can then call those objects our possessions. This explains the use of the term ויקחו, as they do not "own" the items being taken from them until they are used for the משכן.
Indeed, we find that action or מלאכה of some sort produces a certain quality of feeling and understanding. This idea is echoed by the Torah in פרשת משפטים )כד:ז( when בני ישראל state the famous phrase נעשה ונשמע, we will do and we will listen. Rabbi Orenstein in his ספר ישועות יעקב quotes the אר"י ז"ל on that פסוק as saying that certain aspects of מצוות cannot be appreciated by logic alone. He says that the performance of a מצוה, in and of itself, sheds a light of understanding on our eyes. In other words, there is nothing like the קיום המצוה! In this way נעשה contributes to a subsequent ונשמע.
We can see this idea in the order of the words in פרק כה:ח. The Torah states ושכנתי only after ועשו לי; the doing must come first. In אבות דרבי נתן, רבי טרפון states in פרק יא -How great is מלאכה that even Hashem will not let the שכינה rest amongst כלל ישראל until they do מלאכה. This tells us that through our מלאכה we merit that Hashem will dwell amongst us, בתוכם, as opposed to dwelling in the building, בתוכו.
Hashem does not want to dwell in a building devoid of life and soul. The place to reside is within the body of כלל ישראל. Our involvement with Hashem is to be on a one to one basis. S'forno comments (פרק כה:ט) that the Torah in פרק כ:כא speaks of the ideal environment as בכל המקום אשר אזכיר את שמי אבוא אליך וברכתיך, that wherever we will mention Hashem, He will bless us, with no need for a special building with special services as in the case of a מקדש. We, however, strayed from the ideal by performing the חטא העגל and consequently we need to focus our attention to a specific place called the מקדש. In any event, the goal is to strike a personal relationship with Hashem. To do this, we need to add תלמוד תורה. The Ramban (פרק כה:י) mentions that the Torah says ועשו ארון in the plural to indicate that all of us must be involved in that which the ארון houses, namely, the Torah.
Additionally, S'forno )פרק כה:כ( refers to the גמרא יומא דף נד. which says that the כרובים were male and female. This seems to indicate that the word of Hashem emerges out of a concept of partnership, as in the paradigm of husband and wife. He also points out that the Torah says that both כרובים face each other and together face the ark cover. This partnership involves give and take, both directed towards Torah.
The ongoing development of כלל ישראל can only be achieved by both of the above elements, תלמוד תורה and עשיית המצוות. This process of מסורה is rekindled and glorified every time parents review פרשה with their children, teachers learn with students, and couples build a בית נאמן בישראל.
May we use Moshe's parting words of חזק ואמץ as a source of inspiration to participate together in the great עבודה of תורה ומצוות.