In Perek 35, Pasuk 10 it says, “Vechal Chacham Lev Bachem Yavou Viyaasu Ayt Kol Asher Tziva Hashem,” “And every wise hearted person among you shall come and make everything that Hashem has commanded.” This order seems secondary because the command to Betzalel later on actually sets the work on the Mishkan in motion. Why did this command precede the command of Betzalel, which was the primary command?
Rav Moshe Feinstein suggested that the order of the commands is intended to teach us a lesson. Even though Betzalel was the foremost artisan on the project, and all the others were subordinate to him, all the other people would have to take over. They couldn’t give the excuse that since Betzalel was in charge they were free of responsibility. The Torah therefore lists the commandment to everyone first, to show that they had an obligation in any case, even though Betzalel was involved. These lessons not only apply to the Mishkan, but to contemporary situations as well. The Halacha says that a student can’t issue Halachic rulings when his teacher is present, nor can he establish a Yeshiva or pass on his knowledge to others if the teacher is doing so. If, however, the teacher fails to do this, the student is required to establish a Yeshiva, even if it is of lesser quality than the teacher.
Everyone is required to spread Torah to the best of their ability. When great scholars do this, we are required to respect their leadership. When the eminent sages do not do this, we are required to do so ourselves. Just as the lesser artisans would have to build the Mishkan if Betzalel failed.
From this we can understand why the punishment for not reprimanding sinners is so severe. Each person is required to do whatever Mitzvot he can, and someone who doesn’t use his abilities to his fullest, will be held accountable for failing his mission.
With that we can understand the structure of the first two Pesukim in Parshat Pekudei. The reason that the first two Pesukim are next to each other teaches that not only did he use the donated materials, but he also spent much time on the project, and used the talent and energy with which he had been endowed. Similarly, all of us someday will be called to account on how we used our talents, whether it was to serve Hashem or if it was for our own personal use.