In this week’s Parashah, Hashem tells Bnei Yisrael to build Him the Mishkan. The Torah continues to specify in great detail how the Mishkan was to be made; however, during these instructions an apparent question arises. Initially, Hashem tells Bnei Yisrael to create a Mishkan of gold, with gold plating, gold rings, and golden crowning. However, towards the end of the specifications, there is seemingly a shift in Hashem’s taste, as He orders copper vessels, copper plating, and copper pillars be constructed.
To explain this change, Chazal provide us an unusual and insightful answer, while providing a vital lesson. Two Mishkans are actually constructed, one of gold and one of copper. The gold Mishkan is contained in the innermost part of the Mishkan’s campground. This golden Mishkan, sitting deep within the camp, is never seen by Bnei Yisrael. On the other hand, the copper Mishkan is in the outer part of the holy Mishkan site, and as such, Bnei Yisrael have access to it. Here Bnei Yisrael bring their animal sacrifices, while the expensive golden Mishkan offers only incense. This golden Mishkan is representative of the spiritually intangible, which is hidden away, offering only incense but never food. Contrarily, the copper Mishkan represents the physicality inherent in life. We see from the material choice that gold is chosen to represent spirituality, representing the greater importance spirituality should have in our lives than physicality.
These two Mishkans serve as a small hint from Hashem as to our need to prioritize. Despite the business of everyday life, we must never forget the importance of spirituality in our lives. Hopefully, we may all internalize this message and utilize it for greater spiritual growth.