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file Musings on Parshat Pekudei

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1 year 2 months ago #395 by Heshy Berenholz
Heshy Berenholz created the topic: Musings on Parshat Pekudei
Overview

 The accounting
 Audit of the materials collected
 Making the Ayphod (breastplate)
 Setting the two sardonyx stones with the names of the tribes engraved on them on the shoulders of the Ayphod
 Making the Choshen with four rows of precious stones (three on each row) with the name of one of the Tribes of Israel engraved on each stone
 Making the Robe
 Making the other vestments
 Making the gold head-plate with the words Kodesh Lashem (Holy to God) engraved on it
 The Tabernacle is completed (on the twenty fifth day of the month of Kislev, which later in history would be the first day of Chanukah) and brought to Moshe. “The Israelites did so; exactly as God had commanded Moshe, so they did.”
 Moshe approves and blesses all the workers after he saw that “all the work had been done exactly as God had ordered”.
 God instructs Moshe to erect the completed Tabernacle on the first day of the first month (first of Nissan) of the second year
 Moshe…
o Erects (or supervises the erection of) the walls of the Tabernacle and places the roof over it
o Places the Tablets in the Ark
o Inserts the carrying poles in the four rings
o Puts the kapores(cover) with its keruvim on top of the Ark
o Places the vessels in their prescribed location: table; menorah; incense altar; drape over the entrance; sacrificial altar in the courtyard; washstand (in the courtyard between the Tabernacle and the sacrificial altar); and sets up the enclosure surrounding the courtyard
 A cloud covers the Tabernacle, evidencing God’s presence

“Ayle P’kuday Mishkan Ha’aydus Asher Pukad…”


This opening verse of this Parsha that describes the concluding stages of the building of the Mishkan has varying translations:

• These are the accounts of the tabernacle…which were counted at Moshe’s command
• These are the accounts of the tabernacle…which were calculated by Moshe’s order
• These are the records of the tabernacle…which were drawn up at Moshe’s bidding
• These are the accountings of the Dwelling…that were accounted by Moshe

The root of the Hebrew words pukad and p’kuday also means to…
 Visit (be intimate with)
 Remember (so as to be helpful)
 Deposit
 Entrust
 Command or order

The use of this word with its multiplicity of meanings points to the unique, intense, and very close relationship that had been re-established between God (who “resides” among His people) and the nation of Israel.


Keyor and Kano (Washbasin and its Stand)


According to the Midrash this vessel, used by the priests to wash their hands and feet before entering the Tabernacle, was unique in that it was made out of mirrors. Women had assembled at the Tabernacle entryway to give their mirrors as a freewill (unsolicited) donation. Nechama Leibowitz cites a number of reasons these mirrors were chosen:

 Rav S. R. Hirsch reasons that the vessel required “for consecration of hands and feet” was designed to elevate and refine the priests as they enter the Tabernacle. Mirrors draw attention to human sensual desire. Water, the purifying agent that came from a vessel that reflected the secular and the worldly, reminded the priests of their need for self-purification as they begin the service of God.

 Ibn Ezra’s thinks that the willingness of women to surrender their mirrors showed their rejection of vanity. Overcoming worldly temptations by not needing to beautify themselves made their gift an especially appropriate one for the priests to utilize as they move from the secular to the sacred.

 Midrash Tanchuma views the mirrors as representative of the women’s unselfishness and spiritual dedication. During the Egyptian persecution, when having children seemed pointless, it was the women who, after feeding their husbands who were working out in the fields, took out their mirrors and “flirted” with their spouses and aroused them. The result was that “the children of Israel were fruitful and swarmed and multiplied and became exceedingly mighty.”


“The Israelites Did So; Exactly as God Had Commanded Moshe, so They Did.”

They did not deviate from their instructions. The Netziv (cited by Nechama Leibowitz) disapproved of uncontrolled, ecstatic undisciplined worship. He viewed the combination of sincerity and individual expression adhering to the norms of Judaism as the highest form of religious behavior. In their excited religious state the Israelites might have gone above and beyond what was required of them. Therefore, the Torah repeats many times that they did not. They did exactly as God had commanded Moshe—nothing more and nothing less.

But a careful study of the instructions for building the Tabernacle with the actual execution of these instructions yields a number of discrepancies, which seems to contradict the statement that the Israelites did exactly as they were told! Rabbi Benno Jacob resolves this dilemma by noting that the phrase “as…so…” means rough correspondence, not exact or identical. The craftsmen used their discretion and intelligence to assure that the final result would conform to the Divine plan, even if some details needed to be changed during the plan’s execution. For example, Moshe instructed Betzalel to first build a Holy Ark, then furniture and then a Tabernacle. But Betzalel reasoned that since furnishings are made and installed only after a structure has been built to house them, the Divine intent must have been to make the Tabernacle structure first and only then make the Holy Ark and other furniture.


The Tabernacle and Creation

The key, and often-repeated, words in both are work, completed and blessed. Rabbi Jonathan Sacks points to the parallels between God’s creation of the universe and Israel’s creation of the Tabernacle and concludes that the Tabernacle was…

 A kind of universe in miniature
 A place of order within the formlessness of the desert
 Built with precision and wisdom (like the universe itself)
 A visible reminder of God’s presence within the camp and within the universe
 Proof that the Israelites are redeemable even after the sin of the Golden Calf

The experience of building the Tabernacle demonstrated the Israelites’ ability to be productive and innovative and to be “God’s partners in the work of creation.” Moshe’s blessing them and celebrating their achievement served as a timeless lesson that we all have dormant skills and capabilities that become activated when someone awakens them. Concludes Rabbi Sacks, “We can achieve heights of which we never thought ourselves capable. All it takes is for us to meet someone who believes in us, challenges us, and then, when we have responded to the challenge, blesses and celebrates our achievements.”

Each of us can be that “someone”.



Rabbi H. L. Berenholz
Moderators: Heshy Berenholz
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