“And they shall fashion an Ark of cedar wood, two and a half cubits its length, one and a half cubits it width and one and a half cubits its height.” 25:10
- The construction of the Ark preceded that of all the other utensils of the Tabernacle because the Torah is preeminent among all the services a Jew must perform for G-d. This is similar to the creation of light prior to all other creations during the Six Days of Creation, as the Torah is compared to light. - Medrash Rabbah 34:2
- Regarding all of the utensils of the Tabenacle it is written, “V’assisah” [and you shall fashion in the singular form] and regarding the Ark it is written, “V’assu” [and you shall fashion in the plural] This teaches us that G-d intended that every single individual partake in the construction of the Ark so that they may all have a share of the Torah that it represents. Medrash Rabbah 34:2 This could be accomplished through a small donation toward its construction, thus assisting Betzalel… – Ramban
The ancient Tabernacle was the forerunner to the modern day synagogue. Numerous sacrificial services were performed there daily, in addition to the lighting of the Menorah and assorted other rituals. Yet, from its inception, it was never intended to replace the primacy of Torah study, and that point was made repeatedly throughout its construction. Prayer, the modern day replacement for sacrificial offerings,and synagogue attendance, the modern-day equivalent of visiting the tabernacle, are eminently worthy services of G-d, but fall short as a replacement for the study of Torah by every individual.