Parshat Pekudey – 2011
“Thus all the work of the tabernacle of the tent of the meeting finished and the Children of Israel did according to all that the Lord commanded Moshe, so they did.”
Parshat Pekudey closes the book of Shemot, the book of our exodus from Egypt. We know the torah doesn’t stop there but continues on into other books relating the events that led up to the eventual conquering of the Land of Israel and establishing a permanent home in the land of their fathers who had lived a life committed to the everlasting covenant with Hashem generations earlier. This parsha is about the rectification of the breach in this covenant that was made at the sin of the golden calf. As a result of their misbehaving through the vehicle of idolatry Hashem cut off His end of the deal. The difference in avodat Hashem (serving G-d) and avodat elilim (serving idols) is that instead of doing for the sake of Heaven (Leshaym shamayim) one is serving one’s ego in the desire to have it his way (like- if it feels good do it), actually making an offering to ones own will which is the antithesis of acquiescing to Hashems will.
Moshe’s job was to reunite the spirits involved here and bring them back to the harmony that was destroyed at the sin of the golden calf. The symbol of it all coming together as Am Yisrael healed itself in self reflection to avodah leshaym shamayim, was taking all the parts of the completed mission of building the Mishkan and having Moshe make them into one unit in its final completion. It wasn’t every man for himself and his beliefs but one man with one heart like at matan torah. It was an introspection that from this moment on whatever was done was leshaym shamayim. Now they could finally return to Hashem. Now the Shechinah was ready to rest in the house.
All of this is being read in the backdrop of the month of Adar when the entire episode of Purim comes as a wake up call to the Jews of Achashveroshe’s kingdom who ate and drank from the vessels of the Temple in desecration. A breach in the covenant was sorely felt by those who cared to return to Zion. It was a time that a call rang out to stop assimilating, to stop the apathy and having it their way- to stop the breach in the covenant. The call came to rebuild the Mikdash at that time and return to Israel and Hashem. Am Yisrael emerged victorious because of their teshuva and because they reassessed their approach to their identities and their connection to Hashem in a time that there was no house for Him.
Now we come closer to building Hashem’s house as we collect our people home to the place lived in generations earlier by our ancestors. The bodies are returning like the dry bones and now comes the time for fixing the breach and making harmony in Israel, in all she does leshaym shamayim.(for the sake of heaven)
“And they will make for me a Mikdash and I will dwell among them”
Just for the record- it says in the parsha, “Aaron and his sons… Itamar”…- the torah is referring to Itamar and Elazar the High Priests of Israel who were laid to rest in the portion of the Priests not a mile from the present day Itamar. So if you happen to be reading cnn, bbc, and the New York times about a make believe land called the West bank please refer them to the texts of the parsha. We welcome you to come and read the parsha where the nail is hit directly on the head of history.
Shabbat Shalom Leah Goldsmith