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Parshat Pekudei

Posted by rabbiart on April 21, 2008

Hazak Hazak v’nitHazek

Torah Reading: Shemot 38:21 to 40:38 Haftorah Reading: 2 Kings 12:1-17

This Shabbat we close the books, as it were, on Sefer Shemot (Book of Names, aka “Exodus”). The Israelites (aka us) have escaped from Mitzrayim (the narrow place, aka “Egypt”), crossed the Sea of Reeds (most likely a low-lying marshy area that you could walk through but not drive your chariot on without sinking), received the Torah at Mt. Sinai, and built a portable tabernacle for HaShem, so that HaShem might dwell among them (which is to say… us).

As I wrote last week, near the end of Pekudei, after all the work has been completed, we find this fascinating passage:

“According to all that the Lord commanded Moshe, so the Israelites did all the work. Moshe saw all the work, and behold, they had done it as the Lord had commanded, even so had they done it. And Moshe blessed them.” (Shemot 39:42-43).

This passage was preceded in the same chapter by verse 32, which reads: “Thus was finished all the work of the tabernacle of the tent of meeting; and the children of Israel did according to all that the LORD commanded Moses, so did they.”

As the commentary Kli Yakar (Valuable Vessel) notes, and as several of our members mentioned this past Shabbat, these verses remind us of the creation story wherein HaShem reviews the work of the day, and pronounces it “good”. Clearly we are meant to see that Moshe, and the Israelites, are able to do something which previously is only an ability of the divine; to make a plan, to carry out the plan, and to determine if the plan was carried out correctly. (Professional Project Managers please stop laughing now!)

That humankind now has the capabilities required to build the Mishkan (and by implication organize and build a just society) comes about as a the result of an act of direct disobedience of HaShem’s first command. (How Jewish is that!?!) In the second chapter of the Torah the first human is told that he may eat of anything in the Garden, save for the tree of the knowledge of tov and ra. (Customarily translated as “good” and “evil”). In other words, the fruit of this tree is the ability to be a purposeful creature, to do things, and then to make a judgment about what we have done. The designers can design, the craftsmen can build, and Moshe can see that it was done properly, because the first humans ate of the tree of knowledge. Hmmm… was this the first test put before humankind? Did we pass? or fail? You decide.

Shabbat Shalom

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