Divrei Torah on the weekly portions
Pointing in the right direction
"And all the work of the Mishkan Ohel Mo'ed (Tabernacle) was finished; and the Israelites did according to all that God commanded Moshe, so they did" (Shemot 39:32).
This verse seems to be the wrong way round though! Shouldn't it first say that the Israelites did according to all that God commanded Moshe (regarding the Tabernacle), and then say they finished making the items required for the Tabernacle?
The Oznayim LaTorah explains that the latter part of the verse actually refers to all the other Mitzvot of the Torah which God commanded Moshe; it does not refer to the building of the Tabernacle. Therefore, the Torah is teaching that the Israelites completed the Tabernacle and subsequently observed the other Mitzvot.
However, if this is so, why would the Torah mention this Mitzvah observance specifically upon completion of the Tabernacle?
The Oznayim LaTorah answers by quoting the Mishnah: "One Mitzvah leads to another Mitzvah and one sin leads to another sin" (Pirkei Avot 4:2) . God created a person with a balanced equilibrium in that he is inclined to do good as well as evil. When a person performs a Mitzvah he inclines his nature to the good. This now makes it easier for him to do more good deeds because he has tilted the balance in that direction. Similarly, if a person sins, he has imbued in himself a disposition to sin because that is the way he has influenced himself. It will now be easier for him to sin.
At Mount Sinai after receiving the Torah, the Israelites' disposition was strongly in favour of Mitzvah performance to the degree where they approached the lofty level of angels, and actually found it difficult to sin.
However, this changed with the golden calf. The sin of idolatry is so severe and damaging to the soul, that it not only negated the impact of the revelation at Sinai but tilted the balance the other way making it easier for them to sin!
The Mitzvah to build the Tabernacle was to atone for the sin of making the golden calf. After they completed building the Tabernacle, they erased the effects of that sin and once more became inclined to perform Mitzvot. Hence, after they finished manufacturing all the items required for the Tabernacle and were ready to erect it, the Torah could state once again that "the Israelites did according to all that God commanded Moshe".