Torah Weekly

For the week ending 5 March 2011 / 28 Adar I 5771

Parshat Pekudei

by Rabbi Yaakov Asher Sinclair -
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The Book of Shmot 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-d's specifications. Moshe blesses the people. G-d 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.


We Have The Technology

“...As G-d had commanded Moshe.” (39:1)

One guaranteed way to increase sales of a product is to put a flash on the box saying “NEW!!! IMPROVED!!!”

Inevitably, the veracity of this claim is in inverse proportion to the number of exclamation marks which follow it.

We seem to have an almost insatiable desire for ‘new’. Our society is founded on the self-evident premise that everything can and needs to be improved.

There’s an old American folk saying “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

In this week’s Torah portion the words “...As G-d had commanded Moshe” appear over and over again. Twenty-two times. At the end of every single detail of the Mishkan:“...As G-d had commanded Moshe. “...As G-d had commanded Moshe. “...As G-d had commanded Moshe.”

What was the need for this seemingly redundant repetition?

The purpose of the Mishkan was to atone for the making of the golden calf. And the underlying flaw that was evinced by the golden calf was the desire to be smarter than G-d.

The Jewish People had seen that Moshe had acted as an intermediary between them and G-d. After Moshe failed to come down from the mountain they saw in the clouds a vision of his dead body being carried on a bier. In their confusion the Jewish People surmised they would need someone, or something, to replace Moshe; something that would be a vehicle for the Divine Presence to rest amongst them.

In fact, in this assumption they were not far off the mark. However, not being far from the mark can be as far as day is from night.

It was true that there would be a vehicle through which the Divine Presence would rest on Yisrael, and its name was the Mishkan. However, the Mishkan could only be built according to the original Maker’s instructions. No improvements are possible in His Instructions. And when we try to make improvements, we end up with a golden calf. When we try and modernize, democratize, pluralize — we end up with a golden calf.

The word of G-d is perfect. It “restores the soul”. It is like no man-made panacea. If we want G-d’s presence to dwell in our lives, the only way is through following the Maker’s instructions — to the letter of the Law. Otherwise we end up with a golden calf.

It is for this reason that after each detail of the Mishkan the Torah says “...As G-d had commanded Moshe.”

The essence of the Mishkan was that it was ‘as G-d had commanded Moshe’ — not through the mistaken good intentions of man.

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