[Avodah] Mishkan vis a vis Ohel Moed

Akiva Miller akivagmiller at gmail.com
Tue Mar 12 14:43:34 PDT 2019

In Maftir of Pekudei, we read:

40:34) The cloud covered the Ohel Moed, and Kavod Hashem filled the Mishkan.
40:35) Moshe was not able to enter the Ohel Moed, because the cloud rested
on it, and Kavod Hashem filled the Mishkan.

>From this repetitious wording, it seems clear me that "Ohel Moed" and
"Mishkan" are two different things. My starting point is that there are two
distinct structures that might have these names. One is the central
building that was 30 amos long and 10 amos wide and was covered with
various skins and fabrics. The other is the outer enclosure that was 100
amos by 50 amos and was basically a long curtain. My question is which name
refers to which structure.

(The Chatzer HaMishkan refers to the area between the two, but that could
be its name regardless of whether the Mishkan is the central structure or
the outer enclosure.)

On Shabbos, I asked several learned people which is which, and I was
surprised by the wide variety of answers.

1) Some confirmed my understanding, which is that the Ohel Moed is the
central structure, while Mishkan refers to the outer enclosure. But if so,
then I was confused. The pasuk says that Moshe could not enter the inner
Ohel Moed, which implies that he *was* able to enter the Chatzer. How could
he have entered the Chatzer if the Kavod Hashem was filling it?

2) Some said I had it reversed: The Mishkan is in the center, and the Ohel
Moed is the entire enclosed area. That would make sense, because the cloud
fills the whole area, and it is the cloud which creates the issur to enter,
even though the Kavod Hashem is only in the central building. But frankly,
I always presumed that the OHEL Moed would have a roof. Is it possible that
the entire corral is called an "ohel" on account of the main pavilion?

3) Some said both terms refer to the same central structure.
4) Some said both terms are used inconsistently, and one must always check
the context.

In any case, the structure of these two pesukim begs to be explained. The
Kavod Hashem seems to be an effect caused by the cloud, and Moshe's
inability to enter is also an effect caused by the cloud. A simple reading
of the pesukim would NOT support the idea that the Kavod Hashem was a
direct cause of Moshe's inability to enter.

ANYWAY, I guess my first question has to be which is which. And THEN I will
see what the psukim mean.

Thanks in advance!
Akiva Miller
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