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Parashat Pekudei

Dedicated in honor of our son, David upon his

engagement to Joyce Shalom

by Morris and Shaun Rahmey

Parashat Pekudei

A Redeeming End

In Parashat Pekudei, we complete the reading of the book Shemot with the completion of the Mishkan. As we learned in the beginning of the chapter, it seems unusual that the book of Shemot, a book filled with a dramatic story of exile, miracles, and deliverances, should end with an almost anticlimactic conclusion of building the Mishkan. Shouldn’t the sefer end with a bang, at Yetziat Mitzrayim where B’nei Yisrael are officially redeemed?

As we learned previously, the Ramban teaches that, “The galut is not over until they [B’nei Yisrael] return to the level of their forefathers... and even once they achieve their freedom from Egypt, they are not considered redeemed yet, for they still wander in the desert. But once they arrive at Har Sinai to receive the Torah and build the Mishkan, and G-d's Shechina dwells upon them - then they return to the level of their forefathers and are then considered totally redeemed.”

Supporters of Torah Scholars

Rabbi Mansour brings down the Gemara of Masechet Berachot (55a), which tells of the conversation Moshe had with Bezalel, the man appointed by G-d to lead the construction of the Mishkan. Moshe told him to first build the ark and the other furnishings of the Mishkan, and then construct the Mishkan in which these items would be kept. Bezalel replied by pointing out that first one builds a house, and then he brings in the furniture. If the furniture were to be purchased first, there would be nowhere to keep it while the house is being built. As such, it would make more sense to first build the Mishkan before building the kelim. Moshe agreed with Bezalel’s wisdom and switched the order.

What is the significance of this exchange? Rabbi Mansour explains, the holy furnishings, like the aron which held the tablets, represent the Torah scholars of the world. The Mishkan, which holds all the furnishings, represents those who hold, or support, those who study Torah.

Moshe mentioned the aron and other sacred articles first to indicate that the scholars of Torah are greater than those who support them. However, Bezalel expressed the other perspective, the viewpoint which sees the supporters as even greater than the scholars. They are the ‘houses,’ providing the framework that holds the ‘furniture.’ If the scholars have no source of material support, they would not be able to study. And so in this sense, the supporters are even greater, as Torah study could not take place without them.

Held Accountable

In this week’s parasha the passuk give a detailed account of every dollar Moshe used for the Mishkan. How much silver was used in the silver sockets, which wools went for which clothes of the Kohen and the curtains… In the end, Moshe discovered he did not have an account for 1,775 gold coins. He feared Bnei Yisroel would judge him and think he stole from the donations. A voice from heaven came out and declared that the 1,775 golden coins missing were used for the hooks of the curtains.

Rabbi Shapiro adds that when Moshe was building the Mishkan, Bnei Yisroel demanded a full account for every penny he used and how much of was spent on each vessel. However, when Bnei Yisroel gave an enormous amount of money and jewelry for the golden calf, they never asked how much was used. This is a lesson for life. When it comes to spiritual items, people are critical and stingy. On the other hand, when it comes to physical items, they don’t care as much. A man once came to his Rabbi and said, “I received a huge honor to raise money for my Yeshiva, but I don’t want to do it because of ayin hara.” His Rabbi laughed and said, “Now you’re worried about ayin hara?! What about when you made that fancy wedding, that fancy car you drive, and that new extension to your house you just made? How you treat your physical life, you should treat your spiritual life.

How often do we spend time shopping for the perfect outfit and comparing the differences to different meats while planning a simcha? That is why each mitzvah has so many details. Make sure you are not being a hypocrite, and you invest the time and effort you use your physical life for your spiritual life. After 120 that’s all you will have with you.

Holy for Hashem

This week’s parasha continues the discussion about the clothing of the kohanim. The Torah specifies the creation of the tzitz, a thin gold plaque on the turban of the Kohen Gadol. Hashem commands Moshe to write “Kodesh L’Hashem--Holy for Hashem” on the inside of the tzitz, so that the words are raised. The tzitz was created to remind the Kohen Gadol of his role, to represent the quintessential version of man, and to devote his life towards serving Hashem. Why did the words need to be written from underneath? Our sages tell us that to be “Kodesh L’Hashem--Holy for Hashem,” we need to work on our insides first. The Kohen Gadol was a role model for all Klal Yisroel, and in order to shine outward, he needed to have internal greatness first.

Every one of us has the power to be a vessel of Hashem’s Will. Each of us is like a Kohen Gadol to our community. It is incumbent on us to ask ourselves, “When others look at me do they see the words ‘Kodesh L’Hashem’ engraved on my forehead?” Can they recognize that my existence is to serve Hashem?

Good Intentions

The Torah says, “Now they brought the Mishkan to Moshe (39:33).” Rabbi Frand reviews an interesting Midrash from Parashat Pekudei. According to the Midrash, the boards of the Mishkan were so heavy that the people could not hold them up next to each other long enough for them to assemble the Mishkan. They kept toppling over. In frustration, the people brought all the boards and poles to Moshe, and he assembled it with miraculous strength that Hashem granted him especially for this purpose.

The passuk in the parasha, however, states that the Jewish people “brought the Mishkan to Moshe.” This would seem to imply that they brought him a completely assembled Mishkan. What does that mean?

Regarding this same verse, the Midrash tells a story concerning Rabbi Abahu's departure from this world. On the threshold of Olam Habah, he was shown all the reward that awaited him, and he remarked with astonishment, “All of this is for Abahu? I thought I had been toiling in vain, and now I see I have a great portion in the World to Come!”

What point is the Midrash making by bringing this story in connection to the erection of the Mishkan? And how do we understand Rabbi Abahu's surprise? Did he really expect that having spent his life learning Torah and doing mitzvot he would not be rewarded in Olam Habah?

Rav Shlomo Breuer explains that Judaism is a deed-oriented religion. It is not enough to say, “I am a Jew at heart.” Deeds count: learning Torah, performing mitzvot, doing chessed. Being a Jew is about doing, from the moment we rise in the morning until the moment we go to bed. At the same time, however, intent also plays a great role in Judaism. If someone is prevented by circumstances beyond his control from doing a mitzvah, the Torah considers it as if he had done it. Judaism demands deeds, but not necessarily results. If a Jew puts in the honest and sincere effort, he is rewarded even if he is not successful. Hashem, in His infinite kindness, considers good intentions as deeds.

Rabbi Abahu was saying, “There were so many times in my life when I made the effort, but I was not successful. I had assumed that on these occasions my efforts had been futile. Now I see that I have been rewarded even for my intentions even when they were unsuccessful.”

When the time came to assemble the Mishkan, the Jewish people made every effort to do it by themselves. Sweat poured from their brows; veins bulged on their foreheads; they strained, and they pushed those heavy boards with all their might, but they could not erect the Mishkan. It was simply beyond them, and they had no choice but to turn to Moshe for help.

Nonetheless, the Torah reports that they “brought the Mishkan to Moshe,” because that is what they intended to do and what they tried to do with all their hearts. Hashem considered it as if they had erected the Mishkan themselves, and He rewarded them!

An Effort to Succeed

Rabbi Joey Haber told a story about a man whose effort proved to be invaluable. The man was asked to fly a Sefer Torah from one country to another. He got to the security line and was immediately confronted. “Sir, what is this?” the TSA agent asked. “It’s a very holy religious object.” The agent said, “Well it’s going to have to go underneath the plane with the luggage. You can’t carry that with you.” The man replied, “Absolutely not, please just let me through. This needs to stay with me at all times.” She saw it was important to him and answered, “Okay. You can try to go to the gate with it, but there’s no way they’ll let it on the plane.” And she cleared him through security.

When he approached the gate, the man at the gate stopped him. “Sir, what is that?” “This is my Torah,” he answered. The man at the gate shook his head. “I was cleared through security, and it has to fly with me. I can’t separate from it; it’s really important.” The man at the gate called his supervisor and after some deliberating, he said to passenger, “If you want you can try to get on the plane but they’re going to stop you at the door again. I’m telling you there is no way they’re going to let you on that plane with that.” The man happily went through and waited for his next hurdle.

As he stepped on the plane with the Sefer Torah, the head flight attendant said, “Uh sir, no you can’t bring that on this plane. You have to gate-check that, otherwise we won’t be able to take off.” The man stressed how important this holy article was and begged them to let him keep it with him for the flight. The flight attendant went to get the pilot to ask special permission, and the man braced himself waiting for the final answer.

The pilot came out and said, “What’s going on here?” The man started rambling, “This is my Torah and it’s extremely important, and I need it to fly with me so I could make sure nothing happens to it.” The pilot said, “Well you can’t keep it here, but no problem, you can keep it up in the cockpit with me, because that’s where I keep my tefillin.”

When we want to achieve something, we can’t just sit back. We have to do everything in our power to succeed, just as B’nei Yisrael put their blood, sweat, and tears into trying to build the Mishkan. May we see many berachot and successes from our efforts, and may we always be the backbone of Torah, whether we are the learners or supporters of those who study. Amen!

Shabbat Shalom!

Rabbi Amram Sananes, written by Jack Rahmey

Discussion Point:

When we’ve put in effort to succeed in the past, did we benefit from trying hard, whether or not we saw results?

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Le’ilui Nishmat…

Eliyahu Ben Rachel

Rabbi Shimon Chay Ben Yaasher

Avraham Ben Garaz

Sarah Bat Chanah

Esther Bat Sarah

Avraham Ben Mazal

Shulamit Bat Helaina

Rabbi Meyer Ben Chana

Rahamim Ben Mazal

Batsheva Bat Sarah Esther

Rafael Ben Miriam

Ovadia Ben Esther

Rav Haim Ben Rivka

Moshe Ben Mazal

Moshe Ben Yael

Yitzchak Ben Adele

Avraham Ben Mazal

Meir Ben Latifa

Chanah Bat Esther

Yaakov Ben Rachel

Malka Bat Garaz

Moshe Ben Garaz

Avraham Ben Kami

Yaakov Ben Leah

Mordechai Ben Rachel

Chacham Shaul Rachamim Ben Mazal

Natan Ben Rachel

Saadia Ben Miriam

Eliyah Ben Latifa Simhon

Margalit Bat Mazal

Ovadia Haim Ben Malaky

Rabbi Aharon Chaim Ben Ruchama

Luratte Bat Masouda

Esther Bat Menucha

Uri Ben Rahel

Rivka Bat Dona

Shalom Ben Zahra

Rachel Bat Sarah

Refuah Shelemah…

Rachel Bat Devorah

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