Torah Weekly

For the week ending 8 March 2008 / 1 Adar II 5768

Parshat Pekudei

by Rabbi Yaakov Asher Sinclair -
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The Book of Shemot concludes with this Parsha. After finishing all the different parts, vessels and garments used in the Mishkan, Moshe gives a complete accounting and enumeration of all the contributions and of the various clothing and vessels which had been fashioned. Bnei Yisrael bring everything to Moshe. He inspects the handiwork and notes that everything was made according to G-ds specifications. Moshe blesses the people. Hashem speaks to Moshe and tells him that the Mishkan should be set up on the first day of the first month, i.e., Nissan. He also tells Moshe the order of assembly for the Mishkan and its vessels. Moshe does everything in the prescribed manner. When the Mishkan is finally complete with every vessel in its place, a cloud descends upon it, indicating that G-d's glory was resting there. Whenever the cloud moved away from the Mishkan, Bnei Yisrael would follow it. At night the cloud was replaced by a pillar of fire.


The Guru from Ramat Gan

“…and the glory of G-d filled the Tabernacle.” (40:34)

In the daily life of a Jew there is a moment of total abnegation of self, a moment of sublime connection to the Almighty in which our very existence fades into Him.

This moment is the recital of the Shema.

In this spiritual highlight of the day, the Halacha requires an elevated degree of concentration during its recital. At certain points while saying the Shema one may not even pause to greet a king who has the power of life and death, so total is our engrossment with the King of life and death.

Nevertheless, when Rabbi Yisrael Salanter, zatzal, in the midst of his morning recital of the Shema, heard an argument between two people about which of them was responsible to bury a cadaver, he stopped immediately, removed his tefillin and ran to perform the burial.

If you ever manage to travel the Inca Trail to Macchu Picchu in Peru, chances are that you’ll hear something like “Shloime, efoh atah?” wafting up from the other side of the mountain; or sitting on the roof of the world in Katmandu, don’t be surprised if the backpacker sharing the view beside you comes from Ramat Gan. The obligatory "pilgrimage to the East” features high on the to-do list of Israeli youth.

The nature of a Jew is to search for spirituality, so why do comparatively few Israelis make their way up the Jerusalem Hills to the Holy City, whereas two years ago the world’s largest Passover Seder, with some 1,500 Israelis, took place in Katmandu?

When Avraham saw three strangers approaching, he curtailed his audience with the Almighty, and rushed out to greet his potential guests. The spiritual masters reveal that this incident teaches that the mitzvah of welcoming guests takes precedence over an audience with G-d.

A Jew’s job is not so much about flying high in the spiritual worlds, be they above Katmandu or Jerusalem — it’s about serving G-d. It’s about taking guests rather than being a guru, as it says in the Ethics of the Fathers, “One hour of repentance and good deeds in this world is worth more than a life of eternity in the World to Come.”

Doing what G-d asks of us is greater than any spiritual enlightenment that could be attained either in this world or the next.

  • Source: Rabbi Shlomo Wolbe (Shiurei Chumash, Parshat Vayera)

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