Parashiot Vayakhel and Pekudei
(And he assembled / those under a command)
Shabbat Khazak and Parah
Maftir: Numbers 19:1-22
Haftarah: Ezekiel 36:16-38
This Shabbat is packed full of special readings and unique features. First there are two Torah readings this week and not only is this Shabbat, Shabbat Khazak, which is when one of the five books of Moses is completed (this week we finish the book of Exodus), it is also the third of the four special Shabbats leading up to Passover. This Shabbat is Shabbat Parah. Literally the word “Parah” is cow; it is a reference to the fact that we read the passage from Numbers dealing with the Red Heifer this Shabbat. Why? The answer is because the commandment of the Red Heifer related to purity and it was required by all who participated in the Passover to purify themselves prior to offering the sacrifice.
In this brief article we will focus on a passage from Parashat Pekudei. This word “Pekudei” refers to those individuals who were called by HaShem to do the work in making the various vessels related to the Tabernacle and the Tabernacle itself. It was after these men finished their work that one reads,
“And Moses saw all the work and behold they did it just as HaShem commanded— thus they did it and Moses blessed them.” Exodus 39:43
It is clear from the fact that the text repeats twice that the men did the work as HaShem commanded that this is an important point. In other words, this work was perfect. How was this possible? As the reader learns from the previous parashah, those who labored did so with the wisdom of HaShem. Not only that, but two weeks ago in parashat Ki Tisa we read that HaShem endowed the leader of this work Betzalel, the son of Uri, with His Spirit (See Exodus 31:3). From this point one learns the absolute necessity of being equipped by the Holy Spirit in order to serve HaShem in a manner that it will be said, “Behold…just as HaShem commanded”.
It is only when we do as He commanded that we will experience blessing, for this was why Moses blessed them at this time and in light of their work fulfilling G-d’s will. The question which needs to be answered is to whom does the word “them” refer? Some scholars assert that it only refers to those who participated in the actual labor. Others point out that there were many of the Children of Israel who donated the material or at least gave the half shekel for the Tabernacle and therefore they too were included in the blessing. I agree with the latter view.
Yet, the point that is of the most importance was, what was the blessing that they received? The answer is found in the next chapter (Exodus 40); for in this chapter one reads that the Tabernacle was set up and Israel began to worship the L-rd. There you have it, the greatest blessing is being found in a place and being provided with the ability to worship G-d.
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