Parshas Pikudei - Saving the beis ha'mikdash from ayin hara


The passuk says in this week’s sedrah (38:21)

אֵלֶּה פְקוּדֵי הַמִּשְׁכָּן מִשְׁכַּן הָעֵדֻת אֲשֶׁר פֻּקַּד עַל פִּי מֹשֶׁה עֲבֹדַת הַלְוִיִּם בְּיַד אִיתָמָר בֶּן אַהֲרֹן הַכֹּהֵן

These are the records of the mishkan, the mishkan of the testimony, which were listed according to Moshe’s instructions — the work of the Leviim was under the direction of Itamar the son of Aharon the cohen.

Rashi explains

המשכן משכן - שני פעמים רמז למקדש שנתמשכן בשני חורבנין על עונותיהן של ישראל

The passuk repeats the word משכן to hint to the beis ha’mikdash which was taken as a mashkon  (a pledged asset for a loan) when it was destroyed twice because of the aveiros of the benei yisrael.
  • Why does the passuk allude to the beis ha’mikdash being taken as a pledge specifically in the sedrah of Pekudei and not in any of the previous sedros that discuss the building of the mishkan?

The Gur Aryeh explains as follows:

ואם תאמר, ומאי ענינו לכאן לכתוב זה כאן, ולמה לא כתב זה בכל הפרשה שקדמה, אמנם דבר זה הוא מופלא בחכמה, וזה ידוע ממה שנשתברו הלוחות מפני שניתנו בפומבי ושלט בהם עין הרע, ומפני שכאן כתיב "אלה פקודי המשכן" שנמנו כל המשכן, ומפני כך שלט בהם עין הרע, שכל דבר שבמנין עין הרע שולט בו, ומפני שהיה מנין לכל דבר שבמשכן, שלט עין הרע בזה. וכן בית המקדש, כל דבר שהיה במקדש היה בו מנין כאשר נכתב בפירוש, וכל מקום שיש מנין עין הרע שולט בו.

The first luchos were broken because they were given publicly, so there was an עין הרע on them. Similarly here, because all the parts of the mishkan were counted, there was an עין הרע on the mishkan. The items in the beis ha’mikdash were also counted (for the first beis ha’mikdash, see מלאכים א', פרק ו' – ז', for the second beis ha’mikdash see עזרא פרק ח'), and therefore there was an עין הרע on the beis ha’mikdash also, which led to its destruction.
  • If counting leads to an עין הרע, why were the items in the beis ha’mikdash counted (i.e. just as the second luchos were given in a quiet manner, in order to avoid the עין הרע that caused the destruction of the first luchos, so too the items in the beis ha’mikdash should not have been counted, in order to avoid the עין הרע that befell the mishkan)?

The Michtav Me’eliyahu answers as follows:

The passuk says in Yechezkel (46:9)

וּבְבוֹא עַם הָאָרֶץ לִפְנֵי ה' בַּמּוֹעֲדִים הַבָּא דֶּרֶךְ שַׁעַר צָפוֹן לְהִשְׁתַּחֲו‍ֹת יֵצֵא דֶּרֶךְ שַׁעַר נֶגֶב וְהַבָּא דֶּרֶךְ שַׁעַר נֶגֶב יֵצֵא דֶּרֶךְ שַׁעַר צָפוֹנָה לֹא יָשׁוּב דֶּרֶךְ הַשַּׁעַר אֲשֶׁר בָּא בוֹ כִּי נִכְחוֹ יֵצֵא

And when the people come before Hashem on Yom Tov, someone who comes in through the northern gate to bow, should exit through the southern gate, and someone who comes through the southern gate should exit through the northern gate. He should not exit through the gate whereby he entered, rather he should take the opposite exit.

Reb Yaakov Emden explains (פרקי אבות, פרק א', משנה ד')

כי הקפיד השי"ת שלא יראה השער ב' פעמים, פן ישוה בעיניו לשער ביתו וקירות הבית לקירותיו וכו', וזה היה עון העגל שהיה האהל בתוכם עד שמאסו בו ואמרו עשה לנו אלהים, ומשה רבינו ע"ה הרגיש בזה ונטה את האהל מחוץ למחנה הרחק מן המחנה.


Hashem was particular that he should not see the same gate twice, lest the person draw a similarity between the gates in the beis ha’mikdash and the gates in his house, and between the beams in the beis ha’mikdash and the beams in his house. And this caused the chet of the egel ha’zahav, because the ohel mo’ed became overly familiar to them until they were sick of it, and so they said, “Make us a god.” For this reason, Moshe moved his tent to outside of the camp.

Similarly, The Michtav Me’Eliyahu explains that the reason that the items in the mishkan and in the beis ha’mikdash were enumerated, was in order to impress on the benei yisrael that the impressive entirety of the mishkan and of the beis ha’mikdash was different and greater than the ordinary circumstances within which they lived. This was necessary in order to preclude the benei yisrael forming the familiarity with the mishkan and with the beis ha’mikdash that had led to the chet ha’egel.

However, as the Zera Kodesh (Parshas Va’yetze) explains, it is exactly this astonishment that can lead to an עין הרע.

כי עין הרע בא מזה כאשר אדם רואה איזו דבר נאה או איזה גדולה בממון או בבנים או בגבורה או בכל מעלה והוא מתמיה מאוד על מעלתו של זה, אע"פ שמתמיה באהבה זה לזה אעפ״כ גורם רעה בזה שמתמיה, שהוא מפריד הדבר משורשו, כי אלו היה הרואה חכם ודבוק בהש״י לא היה מתמיה כלל, כי מה שייך לתמוה על מדת תפארתו של הקב״ה כביכול, כי זה שהוא רואה הוא לתפארת ה׳

An עין הרע comes when a person sees something beautiful or greatness in money or in children or in strength or in any virtue and he is very astonished at this virtue. Even if his astonishment is well meant nevertheless he causes evil with his astonishment, because he separates the thing from its source. Because if the person who saw the great virtue was a chacham and close to Hashem he would never be astonished, because how is it possible to be astonished on the glory of Hashem because this which he sees is a reflection of the glory of Hashem.

Preventing the chet ha’egel from occurring again required that the benei yisrael should be impressed through the enumeration of the items in the mishkan, but it was exactly the creation of this great impression that led to the עין הרע that destroyed the mishkan and the beis ha’mikdash.

Not until klal yisrael achieve a complete kapparah for the chet ha’egel will it be possible for the third beis ha’mikdash, which will not attract an עין הרע despite its impressive stature, to be built and to last forever.

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