How do you go about building a Mishkan? Besides the materials, apparently one needs a healthy dose of “from every man whose heart motivates him” (Shemos 25:2); “everyone whose heart motivates him” (ibid 35:5); “every man whose heart inspired him” (ibid 35:21); “and everyone whose spirit motivated him” (ibid); “everyone whose heart motivated him”(ibid 35:22); “all the women whose hearts inspired them”(ibid 35:26); “every man and woman whose heart motivated them to bring”(ibid 35:29).
You sort of get the feeling that the building of the Mishkan required absolute free will in its make-up. Why?
Shem Mishmuel explains that attempting to make a place which would call the Shechinah down into “the midst of Klal Yisroel” (Shemos 25:8) requires the highest level of free will: pure nedavah, a complete heartfelt contribution with 100% volition on the part of the giver. Let us attempt to understand this.
Because Haman would be giving Achashveirosh shekalim for the destruction of Bnei Yisroel (Gemara Megilah 13b; see Megilas Esther 3:9), Hashem made sure that Klal Yisroel’s shekalim preceded Haman’s. Thus on the first of Adar we proclaim that everyone bring their machatzis hashekel (for the korbanos of the tzibbur and for other tzibbur needs in the Beis Hamikdas) to the collectors.
The questions are endless. Who cares about Haman’s shekalim? Why is that a reason to worry? How does Bnei Yisroel’s contribution of shekalim save them from Haman’s decree? Who cares that it “came first”? What do their shekalim have to do with Haman’s? And this is so obviously such a major factor that when Mordechai tells Esther about the gezeirah, he specifically mentions the shekalim of Haman! (Esther 4:7). And above all… wait a second! Haman never even gave those shekalim! Achashveirosh told him to keep them! (Esther 3:11).
Chovos Halevavos explains (Sha’ar Habitachon, perek 4) that bitachon extends to every event, every occurrence, every thing — because Hashem indeed controls all and is the cause of all, sans one area: anything having to do with free will and choice. No bitachon there, says the Chovos Halevavos — it is foolish to say, “I will rely on Hashem to send my way the things I am supposed to do (in ruchniyus).” On the contrary, this is the nub of free will, the area that Hashem left for man to be in control of. We are not talking about the choice between chocolate and vanilla ice cream; we are talking about free-will choices of good and evil. Those choices are in the hands of people, for that is the area which determines a person’s spiritual station in life. And those areas were given to people to control and determine. Everything else is completely controlled by Hashem.
This is the deeper meaning of “tzelem Elokim,” that man was created “in the image of G-d.” Just as Hashem’s will is inseparable from Him, and is the force that empowers the universe, the entire briah, so, too, man’s will in the area given over to man’s purview (good/evil) is inseparable from who he is (in fact, determines who he is), and has, by necessity, the ability to actually accomplish what he sets out to do. This is inherent in the world; this is the ultimate manifestation of bechirah. Of course, nothing will actually happen unless it is Hashem’s will; nevertheless, the person’s choice, the person’s will, has a power to potentially be a factor, perhaps the factor in the world — e. g, if someone chooses evil, it creates a reality of its own on earth and in Heaven, and can easily become chas v’shalom the instrument of kitrug (accusatory claims) against the Jewish people, and even create in Shamayim a demand for din, or punishment.
At Matan Torah, the Jews accepted the Torah with a ringing declaration of na’aseh vnishma. Yet Chazal teach us that the will of Bnei Yisroel to submit to this was actually flawed. We are told (Shabbos 88a) that Hashem held the mountain above Bnei Yisroel and said, “If you accept the Torah, fine and good. But if not, you will be buried there…” Rav Acha Ben Yaakov states that this gives a legal loophole for Bnei Yisroel to “claim” that their accepting of the Torah was essentially invalid (and they should therefore not be punished for violating it). Rava adds that it would not be until much later in history, until the miracle of Purim, when, through their great love for Hakadosh Baruch Hu in rescuing them from the hands of Haman, they finally accepted the Torah and agreed to be servants of Hashem unstintingly, completely, and wholeheartedly.
What does this mean? It means that there was not complete and absolute free will at Matan Torah.
This is what allowed for the sin of the Golden Calf. Had the will of Bnei Yisroel been unimpaired, there would have been no possibility of sin. It was that chink in their armor which allowed for the sin — and at the same time could theoretically lead to a claim that their very acceptance was imperfect and thus inoperative, as per Rav Acha bar Yaakov.
At that point, with that flaw, the possibility existed that enemies of the Jews could overcome them and do away with them (if a concurrent decree in Shamayim would come about). The eternal, unbreakable bond with Hashem did not exist yet, as their acceptance of that bond was inadequate for a complete, eternal relationship.
And Haman came and exhibited a tremendous will for evil. He was ready to pay an enormous sum of money for that “privilege.” And that had inherent potential power, for Hashem had put such power into the hands of mankind! What would save Bnei Yisroel from Haman’s powerful will (and the decree in Shamayim, due to aveiros), when their will to be the nation of G-d was incomplete?
Hashem, so to speak, foresaw this turn of events. Therefore, says Reish Lakish, Hashem told Bnei Yisroel to lay the groundwork for their ultimate full consent (which would take place after their salvation from Haman when they saw how Hashem maneuvered their salvation), i.e., give your shekalim first, show your unmitigated will, show that you have the potential to fix that flaw. That will bring about your salvation! Having that potential in place before Haman’s!
And that is why there are so many different references to nidvas halev and nesi’us lev regarding the Mishkan, for Bnei Yisroel had to show that they already had the potential for an unflawed, complete kabbalas haTorah.
This cemented their bond with Hashem, rendering them already indestructible, ripe for the salvation from the evil Haman.