Abarbanel on the Parsha

For the week ending 1 March 2014 / 29 Adar I 5774

Parshat Pekudei

by Rabbi Pinchas Kasnett
The Color of HeavenArtscroll

In this Parsha the Torah repeats the narrative of the design, construction and setting-up of the Tabernacle. Abarbanel questions the necessity of repeating these details. The Torah relates that “Moshe saw the entire work and behold, they had done as G-d had commanded… And Moshe blessed them.” Rather than ending here, the narrative goes on to describe everything once again in detail. Abarbanel answers that the artisans who did the work did not show the completed components to Moshe as each was completed. Moshe, in turn, did not go out to continually inspect what they had produced, but rather viewed their work only after it was totally finished. The Torah therefore describes their work in detail to demonstrate that they did exactly as commanded, even though it would have been expected for them to forget a few details or deviate slightly. Abarbanel states that this is testimony to both their wisdom and zeal to serve G-d to the best of their abilities. It is for this reason that Moshe blesses them for their accomplishment.

Secondly, Abarbanel questions the discrepancy between the order of the initial commands and the order in which the various components were finally put into place. In both cases Moshe did exactly as he was commanded. This is why each time a component is put into place the verse ends with the words, “…as G-d commanded Moshe”, a phrase which could have been inserted once at the end of the narrative. This is a clear indication that these actions, even though they did not follow the order in which they were first presented, were carried out by Moshe in the exact order that G-d intended. By changing the order, G-d is communicating that for each of the components of the Tabernacle there are different degrees of importance based on different levels of symbolic meaning.

Since this Parsha concludes the Torah’s detailed description of the Tabernacle, it is worth briefly noting Abarbanel’s summary of the importance of studying the Tabernacle in detail, even though it is no longer in existence. This type of study gives provides insight into the Divine wisdom which enhances our spiritual growth and understanding. This concept is communicated in Moshe’s final charge to the nation, “You shall observe the works of this covenant so that you will succeed in all that you do.” Abarbanel explains that ‘observe’ refers to study while ‘success’ actually refers to the acquisition of sharpened understanding. In essence, even though action is the ultimate goal, the sharpened understanding and spiritual growth that results from intensive study remains in place even if the action is not relevant at the present time. Additionally, on a deeper level, Abarbanel points out that the construction and components of the Tabernacle correspond to the various steps in the creation of the universe itself and to its ongoing nature after G-d stopped the creative process with the creation of the Shabbat.

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