Parashat Pekudei // “The Records”

- מ צ ר -

Where does the human meet the divine?

Sublime values embodied in the construction of the Tabernacle

“This is the sum of the tabernacle, even of the tabernacle of testimony, as it was counted, according to the commandment of Moses, forthe service of the Levites, by the hand of Ithamar, son to Aaron the priest. And Bezaleel the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, made all that the LORD commanded Moses. And with him was Aholiab, son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan, an engraver, and a cunning workman” Exodus 38:21 – 23

  • After the items and money for the Tabernacle are collected, the inventory is counted. The verb employed to describe this activity is not lispor (לספור, “to count”) but lifkod (לפקוד, “to carry out a census”) – because it is a national duty. By acknowledging the efforts of every person, Moses creates a sense of community. The census is a spiritual event that further solidifies the Israelites’ ties to each other and vis – à – vis God.
  • Altruism and charity are the central values underpinning the construction of the Tabernacle. Both traits are absolutely fundamental to this enterprise because without them, God’s sanctity and light could not manifest. The Tabernacle is a creation of man, not God.  

A cloud covers the Tabernacle during the Israelites’ wandering in the desert

“So Moses finished the work. Then a cloud covered the tent of the congregation, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. And Moses was not able to enter into the tent of the congregation, because the cloud abode thereon, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. And when the cloud was taken up from over the tabernacle, the children of Israel went onward in all their journeys: But if the cloud were not taken up, then they journeyed not till the day that it was taken up.” Exodus 40:33 – 38

  • Nahmanides describes the end of Tabernacle’s construction as the end of Israel’s ties to Egypt and the commencement of their redemption: “When they came to Mount Sinai and made the Tabernacle, and the Holy One, blessed be He, caused His Divine Presence to dwell again amongst them… It was for this reason that this second book of the Torah is concluded with the consummation of the building of the Tabernacle, and the glory of the Eternal filling it always” (Ramban/Nahmanides on Exodus, Introduction).

Pearls of Divine Wisdom: “The Records”

  • The inauguration of the Tabernacle is the first step to universal salvation. We must always move forward, even in the face of tragedy. We should never suspend our life’s journey.
  • The construction and service of the Tabernacle are the fruits of human consent. We too are free to choose every day what our spiritual journey will be and where we are going to invest our efforts and focus. All humans are free by nature.
  • There is a clear link between the beginning of the universe and the inauguration of God’s dwelling place on earth. The Tabernacle is the continuation of God’s creation. 
  • After decadence comes rectification. Correction is always within reach. Moses knows how to extract the Israelites’ positive traits. His congratulatory remarks are evidence of his great personality and ability to mobilize his followers. Praise and recognition can bring out the best in people.
  • Generosity and charity are the main values at the heart of the Tabernacle’s inauguration. Without them, we cannot experience holiness or spiritual enlightenment.

Enthusiasm is excitement over the prospect of fulfillment through spiritual work and sharing.