The last Torah portion of the Book of Shemos, Pekuday, continues to describe the construction of the Mishkan [Tabernacle], and begins to record the materials used in the building process (Shemos [Exodus] 38:24-31):
“All the gold that was used for the work, for all the holy work, the offered up gold was 29 talents and 730 shekels, in the sacred shekel. The silver of the census of the community was 100 talents, 1,775 shekels in the sacred shekel. A beka for every head, a half shekel in the sacred shekel for everyone who passed through the census takers, from 20 years of age and up, for 603,550. The 100 talents of silver were to cast the sockets of the Sanctuary and the sockets of the Partition; a 100 sockets for a hundred talents a talent per socket. And from the 1,775 he made hooks for the pillars, covered their tops and banded them. The offered up copper was 70 talents and 2,400 shekel. With it he made the sockets of the entrance to the Tent of Meeting, the Copper Alter, the copper meshwork that was on it, and all the vessels of the Alter; the sockets of the courtyard all around, the sockets of the gate of the Courtyard, all the pegs of the Tabernacle, and all the pegs of the Courtyard, all around.”
The Daas Zekeinim MiBaalay Tosfos
observes that the Torah explicitly wrote what the silver and copper were used for; this is because most
of the vessels were made out of them. However, when it came to the allocation of the gold, the Torah does not
give a detailed list of what the gold was used for (although we do see a mention of gold being used throughout, such as in constructing various vessels and priestly garments). Yet we know that the menorah and the Cover were made completely out of gold, and that gold was also used for plating the planks, the staves, the Golden Alter, and the Table. (Click here
for Hebrew text.)
Why wasn’t there an explicit list made of what the gold was used for? Why would the Torah, which is the ultimate truth, the pinnacle of honesty not be as transparent and clear as possible with all their records in order to allay any suspicions?
We learn from here an astonishing lesson in accounting. True honesty only requires that what is used for most of the job be explicitly spelled out. Anything else does not have to be specifically listed, as long as it can be accounted for. On the flip side, the expectation is that the majority of material will be clearly listed; just going through the records would not be a high enough degree of accountability.
G-d, who created and defines honesty and is the epitome of truth, understands there has to be a balance to accountability, a norm. Clearly listing the uses of the materials which are used most often is the norm, and, for everything else which is not used to the same degree, just looking through the records is a sufficient degree of accountability.