Two houses for G-d: Temple and Tabernacle (Mishkan). This week’s parasha describes the completion of the Mishkan. This week’s haftarah describes the completion of King Solomon’s Temple, 480 years later.

The Mishkan was essentially a simple structure. The Temple was much more lavish and ornate.

Which one, would you think, was superior?

You might expect that the, magnificent Temple in Jerusalem should top the bill. Yet, if we look more closely, we see this is not necessarily the case.

When donations were needed to build the Mishkan, the gifts came in readily. In fact, so much was provided in such a short time that the people had to be told to stop! By contrast, when King Solomon came to build his Temple, he had to raise a tax on the people in order to provide the resources that were necessary.

The Temple was built by hired workmen. We read in the book of Kings that Solomon conscripted tens of thousands of labourers from across Israel to take part (I Kings 5: 27-30).

And the Mishkan? That was built by volunteers. Men and women contributed their talents in spinning, weaving, metalworking etc. in assisting the construction. All of this took place under the direction of Betzalel, the principal architect, who was blessed with the Divine spirit.

In the Temple, King Solomon had to bring in foreign construction workers from Tyre. In addition, as the 16th century commentator Ovadia Sforno points out, the building was in need of regular, almost annual repairs.

Although the Shechina, (G-d’s presence) came to rest on both the Mishkan and the Temple, it was lost from the Temple, when it was destroyed.

The Mishkan never fell into enemy hands. It is significant, says Sforno, that when the Temple was destroyed by Nebuchadnezer and the spoils of war were carried away, no Mishkan vessel is listed as part of that haul.

The Mishkan, built with the love and generosity of newly-liberated slaves, acquired a spiritual and physical permanence that could not be matched by the Temple however splendid a building it became to be.

As we witness the humbling bravery, patriotism and self-sacrifice of the Ukrainian people in defending their country, perhaps we can understand the commitment of the Israelites to the Mishkan. Recently freed from the crushing slavery of Egypt they demonstrated their enthusiasm to participate in a project of their choice. We hope and pray that the blessing and peace the Mishkan brought to the Israelites will extend to the Ukrainians too.