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.
Whiter Than White
"These are the accounts" (38:21)
Try and open a bank account today in a foreign country and you’ll find yourself wading through a set of forms guarding against an extremely dangerous and unattractive denizen of deep-water banking — the money launderer.
The money launderer is a thriving, but hardly new species. For example, the Vatican faces a legal landmine that has been quietly wending its way through the American federal court system since 1999.
In November of that year, Ukrainian Holocaust survivors, later joined by Serb and Jewish plaintiffs, filed a class action lawsuit against the Vatican Bank, a Croatian right-wing political organization and the Franciscan Order, alleging complicity in the laundering of Nazi World War 2 loot, including the proceeds of genocide from several Croatian-run concentration camps where upwards of 500,000 Serbs, Jews and others were killed between 1941 and 1945.
The Vatican Bank has claimed sovereign immunity to the lawsuit, declaring that it is an arm of the Holy See.
According to a 1998 report issued by the US State Department, the Nazi Croatian Treasury was illicitly transferred to the Vatican Bank and other banks after the end of World War 2.
The Vatican has repeatedly denied any Franciscan participation in war crimes or the disappearance of the Croatian Treasury, yet it has refused to open its wartime records to substantiate its denial.
In this week’s Torah portion, Moshe presents a complete accounting of all the donations to the Mishkan (Tabernacle). Not only did Moshe give an accounting, but he gave his calculations to Aharon’s son, Itamar, so that Itamar could check his math.
G-d called Moshe "trustworthy" (Bamidbar 12:7). Why then did Moshe need to make a public accounting in front of all the people?
Moshe had overheard remarks such as "Ben Amram’s (Moshe’s) neck is getting pretty fat lately." "No wonder. He’s in charge of all that money for the Mishkan!"
Certainly, these remarks were only made by lowlifes. The Jewish People as a whole trusted Moshe but they were puzzled about Moshe’s sudden wealth. They didn’t know that G-d had let Moshe keep the fragments of sapphire left over from the hewing of the second Tablets. These splinters of sapphire made Moshe extremely wealthy.
Moshe was scrupulous to a ‘T’ with the donations he received for the Mishkan, but nevertheless he gave an accounting because he didn’t want to be suspected falsely of doing a little laundering on the side.
From Moshe, our Teacher, we can learn that it’s not enough for us to do the right thing, but we must also be seen to do the right thing.
- Source: based on the Midrash