Make a Fixed Time for Study

עשה תורתך קבע – אמור מעט ועשה הרבה

Posts Tagged ‘mishkan’

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

Advertisements

Posted in Torah Commentary | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Parshat Vayakhel

Posted by rabbiart on April 21, 2008

Torah Reading: Shemot 35:1 to 38:20 Haftorah Reading: 1 Kings 7:40 to 7:50.

Shabbat Shalom

As the parshah opens Moshe has gathered together all of the Israelites. He gives them additional instructions about building the portable tabernacle. These instructions are immediately proceeded by yet another command to observe Shabbat. Because of this juxtaposition, rabbinic Judaism derives the definition of “activities forbidden on Shabbat” from the actions required to complete the mishkan.

Our parshah is often read in combination with Pekudei. Pekudei is immediately following and concludes Sefer Shemot (The Book of Names, aka Exodus). 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.”

The alert reader will immediately recall the creation story, where HaShem reviews HaShem’s work each day and declares that it is good. Moshe’s review of the work relates directly to the creation story, and is a key to understanding the story of eating the fruit of the tree (you know which tree I mean.) More on this in next week’s issue.

Posted in Torah Commentary | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Parshat Kitisa

Posted by rabbiart on April 21, 2008

Torah Reading: Shemot 30:11 to 34:35. Haftorah Reading: 1 Kings 18:1-39

This second to last parshah in Sefer Shmot begins with a shekel collection, describes some recipes, puts Bezalel and Oholiab in charge of making the Ohel Mo’ed, and repeats the charge for observing Shabbat. It climaxes with Hashem giving Moshe the shnei luchot edut (two tables of testimony). No sooner does this happen then the people, gathered at the foot of the mountain, make and worship the egel hazahav (the golden calf). HaShem is ready to destroy the people, but Moshe persuades him to reconsider. Moshe descends, grinds the calf to powder, throws the powder in water, and makes the Israelites drink. Strangely, Moshe then sends the Levites running with swords through the camp killing brother, companion and neighbor.

Moshe enters the Ohel Mo’ed (Tent of Meeting), the cloud descends, and Moshe has an intimate conversation with HaShem. Moshe begs for and is granted the right to see HaShem, although only from the back. He goes back up the mountain and receives a replacement set of tablets. He is transformed by the experience, his faith forever radiating so that he wears a veil when among the Israelites and not proclaiming commandments.

There is so much to consider in this parshah. The Golden Calf is a fascinating and compelling story. How could a people who witnessed the deliverance from Egypt and the revelation at Sinai backslide so soon and so easily? Perhaps, because unlike Moshe, they had no transformative experience with HaShem. In our parshah Moshe asks for what we all seek at some point in our life; a sense of the presence of HaShem. We can’t have the experience that was granted Moshe; to journey up the mountain not once but twice and be in a conversation with the divine. One interpretation of Moshe in the cleft of the rock is that he sees only the aftermath of HaShem moving in the world. After his experience, the Israelites can see in his face that he has been transformed. Perhaps the way we experience HaShem in our lives is by looking carefully and deeply into the faces of our friends and our teachers. By sensing the presence of HaShem in their lives, we can invite HaShem into our own.

Posted in Torah Commentary | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »