Parashat Shemini begins with Moshe’s instructions concerning the final day of the Mishkan’s inauguration, when Aharon and his sons began serving as kohanim for the first time. Moshe commanded Aharon to bring certain animals as his sacrifice, and then to have Benei Yisrael to bring him other animals which he would offer on their behalf. After the animals were prepared, Benei Yisrael assembled by the entrance of the Mishkan, at which point Moshe said to them, “This is the thing which the Lord has commanded to do so that the glory of the Lord shall be revealed to you” (9:6). As many commentators noted, this announcement is not followed by any instructions to the people. What, then, was Moshe telling the people to do in order to behold the revelation of God’s glory?
Keli Yakar suggests that Moshe was referring to the spirit of unity that prevailed at that moment. The previous verse tells that after the animals were provided for the sacrifices, “the entire congregation approached and stood before the Lord” (9:5). Keli Yakar detects within this description a subtle reference to the peaceful joining of hearts that occurred at this time. Benei Yisrael “approached” (“va-yikrevu”) not merely the entrance of the Mishkan, but also one another, eliminating any lingering feelings of envy and ill-will that may have previously been present in their hearts. As we saw yesterday, Keli Yakar understood the special sacrifices offered on this day as intended to atone for the people’s jealousy and strife, which has the potential to lead people to irrational conduct and to grave sins, and which, according to Keli Yakar, precipitated the sin of the golden calf. Keli Yakar thus explains that the people now assembled together in peace and harmony in order to correct the ill of harmful jealousy, and committed to work to eliminate envy and resentment and to join in the unified service of the Almighty. Upon seeing the sight of Benei Yisrael assembled together in peace and unity, Moshe instructed the people, “This is the thing which the Lord has commanded to do so that the glory of the Lord shall be revealed to you.” He wanted to impress upon Benei Yisrael that their most basic and crucial obligation was to continue assembling together, to maintain peaceful relations among one another. Bringing the divine presence in our midst depends upon, mainly, our ability to achieve “va-yikrevu kol ha-eida,” to draw close to one another in unity and friendship, and avoid envy and strife that threaten to undermine the aura of peace and camaraderie that ought to be felt throughout our nation.