Texts: Exodus 35:1 – 38:20 || I Kings 7:40 – 7:50 (Sephardic: I Kings 7:13 – 7:26)
Texts: Exodus 38:21 – 40:38 || I Kings 7:51 – 8:21 (Sephardic: I Kings 7:40 – 7:50)
NOTE: Kol HaTor, in its commentaries on the weekly Parashot, endeavours to search for and accentuate the Torah Messages contained in the Parashot as applicable to the main Theme of Tanach of the Return of the House of Israel, i.e. the Lost Ten Tribes of Northern Israel and their Reconciliation with Judah to form the reunited 12-Tribed Kingdom of Israel.
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DISCLAIMER – The authors whom we quote from for this Commentary are not associated with KOL HA’TOR and need not agree with our views expressed herein or in our other publications. While we publish their views for its relative value to the interpretation of the Parashah, KOL HATOR does not necessarily agree with the views expressed by these authors.
This week’s Torah reading includes both the Parashah of Va’yakhel (Exodus 35:1-38:20) and the Parashah of Pekudei (Exodus 38:21-40:38). With these, we conclude the reading of the first 2 Books of the Torah.
The final 5 Parashot of the Book of Exodus (chapters 25 to 40) and the first ten chapters of the book of Leviticus, focus on one specific theme: The Mishkan (the Tabernacle – God’s Sanctuary).
Volumes are written about the meaning and importance of the Tabernacle in Jewish liturgy. The most prominent concept, which we will also use as our theme today, is that of providing “A Dwelling Place for G-d to live amongst His People.”
Parashat Pekudei concludes therefore, with the inspiring end result of the newly completed Tabernacle:
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Exodus 40:34, “Then the cloud covered the Tent of Meeting, and the glory of HaShem filled the Tabernacle. 35 Moses could not enter the Tent of Meeting because the cloud had settled on it, and the glory of HaShem filled the Tabernacle. 36 In all the travels of the Israelites, whenever the cloud lifted from above the Tabernacle, they would set out; 37 but if the cloud did not lift, they did not set out – until the day it lifted. 38 So the cloud of HaShem was over the Tabernacle by day, and fire was in the cloud by night, in the sight of all the Israelites during all their travels.”
In this way the omnipresent Spirit Being, the G-d of Israel, dwelt amongst His People, guiding them by day in a Pillar of Cloud, and by night in a Pillar of Fire. In this Tabernacle, Moses would convene with G-d.
Exodus 34:35, “But when Moses went in before HaShem to speak with Him, he took the veil off, until he came out. And he came out, and spoke unto the children of Israel that which he was commanded. And the children of Israel saw the face of Moses, that the skin of Moses’ face shone: and Moses put the veil upon his face again, until he went in to speak with Him.”
The Shechinah Presence of G-d in the Tabernacle
Rabbi Juda son of Rabbi Shalom said: … It was on the Day of Atonement that Moses as commanded ‘Let them make me a sanctuary.’ … You will find that on the Day of Atonement their sin [of worshipping the golden calf] was forgiven, and on the same day the Holy One Blessed be He said to them: ‘And let them make Me a sanctuary that I may dwell among them’ in order that all the nations should know that the sin of the golden calf had been atoned for.
In our previous Parashah we have seen how this atonement was brought about by an offering of half Shekel on every member of the community – like a national census.
Shechinah is derived from the Hebrew root שכן (sh-ch-n). In Biblical Hebrew it means literally to settle, inhabit, or dwell, In modern Hebrew, other concepts based on the same root are ‘neighbor’ (shochen) and ‘neighborhood’ (shechunah).
This close neighborly relationship is portrayed in the community setting of the 12 Tribes in their encampment around the Tabernacle.
Can this indicate that HaShem is purposing to dwell amongst His People by way of indwelling the personal beings of His righteous People? That each righteous follower would be a Living Temple for the Shechinah of HaShem?
In previous Parashot commentaries we have deliberated (Lech Lecha):
“When Ephraim (the House of Israel, the re-identified Lost Ten Tribes) and Judah (Jews) are individually regenerated and regathered into the rebuilt Tabernacle of David, then we will begin to recognize each other as blood brothers, as physical Israelites from different sides of the same family nation! This vision does includes the truth of Israel’s two houses and demands that Ephraim renounce all paganism and embrace the fabric of Israelite living and holiness, which is Torah. “
We then also considered this reconstructed and ruling ‘Tabernacle of David’ from the vision of the prophet Daniel, as recorded in Daniel chapter 7″
Daniel 7:13, “I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before Him. 14 And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed. 15 I Daniel was grieved in my spirit in the midst of my body, and the visions of my head troubled me. 16 I came near unto one of them that stood by, and asked him the truth of all this. So he told me, and made me know the interpretation of the things. 18 � the saints of the most High shall take the kingdom, and possess the kingdom for ever, even for ever and ever.”
Is this not the Tabernacle that HaShem envisaged for Himself to dwell amongst His People?
According to Jewish tradition the radiance of the Shechinah, with its untold blessings, “rests” upon all those who are pious and righteous. According to ancient Rabbis the Shechinah appears in the midst of at least a minyan of worshipers when they pray in congregation, and of two or more Jews when they engage in the study of Torah, or on a man when he recites the Shema. The Shechinah is said also to rest upon the chaste, the benevolent, and the hospitable, and upon husband and wife when they live in peace and harmony. The ancient Rabbis also said that the Shechinah appeared before Moses at the burning bush, rested upon the Tabernacle in the Wilderness on the day of its dedication, and in the holy of holies in the Temple at Jerusalem, and it has illuminated the bliss of the righteous (Heb. tzaddikim) in the world-to-come ever since.
The Talmudic Sages conceived of the Shechinah as a spiritual essence of indescribable beauty and exalting effect.
In a commentary on Va’yakhel, Rabbi Label Lam makes the following observation: “The Nefesh HaChaim writes: ‘And so a person from the Holy Nation that contains the whole organization of the creation – he is also constructed like the Tabernacle and the Temple and its vessels, corresponding to the order and connections of the segments of the limbs and the ligaments and their functions. So it is detailed in the Zohar how the Tabernacle and its vessels are each referring to Man.‘ (Refer: www.torah.org)
There is a lot of talk in the world and great fears amongst Arabs, that the Jews will build a Third Temple in Jerusalem on the spot where currently a Muslim Temple, the Dome of the Rock, stands. Now consider the following statement of Jewish thought – a concept that could hint at the possibility of such a collective body of a ‘Human’ Temple:
Rabbi Frand in Commentary on Va’yakhel writes, “The last 5 parshios — Terumah, Tezaveh, Ki Tisa, Va’yakhel and Pekudei — have been dealing with the mitzvah of “You shall make for me a Sanctuary and I will dwell therein” [Shmos 25:8]. Apparently, this is a mitzvah that none of us will ever have the opportunity to fulfill. Even if, G-d willing, we will live to see the coming of Moshiach, it seems that we will still not be able to fulfill this commandment. The reason for this is because our Sages tell us that the Third Beis HaMikdash will descend from Heaven – theoretically complete. This would appear to mean that in His Kindness, G-d is removing this mitzvah from us. G-d will do it for us! “(Refer: www.torah.org)
In Lech Lecha we also noted:
“We have yet another confirmation – an awesome eye-opener! It comes from the Song of Ascents, Psalm (Tehillim) 126 – Translation and commentary by Rabbi Avraham Sutton (www.avrahamsutton.com). This Song opens the Thanksgiving for the Meal on Shabbat – a Song of Joy by the Returnees to Zion.
Rabbi Sutton makes the revealing observation: “When Hashem will come out of concealment (the Return of His Shechinah, when Peace and Reconciliation is restored between the 2 Houses of Israel) and return with the captivity of Tzion, (the exiles) we will all awaken as if from a deep slumber; it will be so wondrous, as if an impossible dream has finally come true.”
Rabbi Sutton continues to explain in a foot note: “The verse does not state ‘behashiv Hashem shivat Tzion‘ when Hashem will restore the captivity of Zion – but rather ‘beshuv Hashem et shivat Tzion‘ when Hashem will return with the captivity of Zion. This implies that the Shechinah is in exile with the Jewish people, and will be redeemed with us at the time of the Redemption. The source for this teaching is found in the Talmud (Megillah 29a).” (Refer to Lech Lecha for full quote).
It is doubtful that this could refer to the Returnees that have returned to the Land of Israel since 1948. It most likely could refer to the body of ‘Holy Ones’ that the prophet Zechariah refers to in that fearful forecast of the Day that ‘all the nations’ will draw up in battle against Jerusalem”:
Zechariah 14:3, “Then HaShem will go out and fight against those nations, as He fights on a day of battle. 4 On that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, east of Jerusalem, and the Mount of Olives will be split in two from east to west, forming a great valley, with half of the mountain moving north and half moving south. 5 You will flee by my mountain valley, … Then HaShem my God will come, and all the holy ones with him.”
Can this possibly refer to the ‘Heavenly Beit HaMikdash which will descend? – as that ‘Body’ that He will rule through – that Purpose for which He persisted to continue Creation (for the sake of one righteous man and his family, Noah) rather than destroy it? (As we have observed in our first parashot on Creation).
The Mishkan – Testimony to the nations
“The portion of Parashat Pekudei (Reckoning) begins in Exodus 38:21 “These are the reckoning of the Mishkan — the Mishkan of testimony. ” The Medrash is bothered by Moshe’s repetitive expression. Why does he repeat the words Mishkan — Mishkan? He should have said, “These are the reckoning of the Mishkan of testimony.”? The Medrash answers, homiletically, that the word Mishkan has a close relative in the word Mashkon — collateral. Moshe was alluding, “to the two Temples that were taken back by G-d as collateral for the sins of Israel.”
(Rabbi Mordechai Kamenetzky – www.torah.org)
Rabbi Judah son of Rabbi Shalom said: ‘And let them make Me a sanctuary that I may dwell among them’ in order that all the nations should know that the sin of the golden calf had been atoned for. It is therefore called the ‘Mishkan Eidut’ (Tabernacle of Testimony, see Numbers 1:53), a testimony to all the inhabitants of the world that the Holy One Blessed be He dwells in our sanctuary. Said the Holy One, Blessed be He, “Let the gold of the Mishkan come and atone for the gold of which the calf was made …” (Midrash Tanchuma, Exodus 25:8).”
Rabbi Zvi Shimon remarks: “According to the Tanchuma, the construction of the Mishkan is an act of atonement by the people for the sin of the golden calf. The people sinned with gold by building a golden calf and atone with gold by constructing the Mishkan which included many gold instruments. The Mishkan is a testimony to the fact that God forgave the people for their sin and dwells among them.” (vbm-torah.org)
The True Temple of HaShem, whether a physical building or a Body of People, would by necessity have to be a place of supreme righteousness, to befit the Presence (Shechinah) of the Living G-d! As such, and as such only, could it serve as a Testimony to the nations, a Testimony of what G-d expects of mankind:
Micah 6:8 “What does HaShem require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy,
and to walk humbly with your G-d.”
“These final portions in the Book of Exodus summarize the amazing accomplishments of the Children of Israel in building the Mishkan — the edifice that would house the Divine presence in this temporal world — while in the desert. It was a mammoth feat, an act that consumed an entire nation. Men and women, young and old each had a share in this great endeavor. The Torah tells us:
“Every man whose heart inspired him came; and everyone whose spirit motivated him brought the portion of Hashem for the work of the Tent of Meeting, for all its labor and for the sacred vestments. The men came with the women; everyone whose heart motivated him brought bracelets, nose-rings, rings, body ornaments — all sorts of gold ornaments — every man who raised up an offering of gold to Hashem.” (Exodus 35:21-22)
“And then there were those who did the work. “Moses summoned Bezalel, Oholiab, and every wise-hearted man whose heart Hashem endowed with wisdom, everyone whose heart inspired him, to come close to the work, to do it (Exodus 36:2). The wording needs clarification. Why use the term, “whose heart inspired him, to come close to the work, to do it”? Why not just say “whose heart inspired him, to do the work”? What is the meaning of coming close to do the work? Just do the work!
“Building a Mishkan, like any project that entails difficult work for the sake of Heaven, can be arduous. It can become depressing at times and it is easy to become dispirited and desperate. The key to the success of the building Mishkan lies in the words of the posuk, “everyone whose heart inspired him, to come close to the work, to do it.” In order to do the work, you must draw yourself close to the work. If you take small steps with love and bring a project close to your heart, then rest assured you will complete the work in joy!”
(Rabbi Mordechai Kamenetzky – www.torah.org)
“What is the first thing we need before starting to build a building? I know some people will say, “Money!” There’s something more basic than that. No not a building permit. Right! A plan! You can’t get money or a permit without submitting first an architect’s scheme. The drawing itself first requires something even more fundamental before it becomes a reality. Yes. A motivation! A will to create or become! And that all flows from an imaginative picture, an ideal of how things will look or be after all the work is done.
“Lest we be seduced into thinking that the building itself is more important than its true function, Moshe set the record straight. The vessels and their special internal use are the real purpose of the project. The Almighty is not served by a meaningless building. There is no “edifice complex” at play here.
“The main part, the essence is the realm within. The outer world serves and thrives on the inner. For practical logistical considerations the external structure needs to be worked on first. ”
(Rabbi Label Lam – www.torah.org)
This “realm within” would be the Testimony to the nations.