Sign In Forgot Password

Torah Commentary - Pekude

                                                     *Commentary courtesy of Menachem Me-Zahav


Today’s reading is the last Sidrah in the second book of the Torah the book of Exodus (Shemot). 
It assumes the name from its second word: “Eile Pekudei – These are the Records (of the construction project) of the Sanctuary” (Exodus 38:21). 

The Building of the Sanctuary and its Furnishings.
We find a straightforward and quite accurate summary of all the materials used in conjunction with the building of the first Sanctuary of the Jewish people.  
The materials needed for the Sanctuary were collected from two sources. The main source consisted of donations given in such an overwhelmingly generous manner that Moses had to proclaim that no more contributions were needed (See summary of previous Sidrah Va’Yakhel Exodus 36:6). A second, much smaller source was the money collected from the men above 20 years of age. This standard Half Shekel coin, helped to determine the number of men, who fit for military service (Exodus 30:11-16).

Betzalel Ben Uri and Oholiav Ben Achissamach
The Torah mentions again at the very beginning, the names of the two head craftsmen: Betzalel Ben Uri and Oholiav Ben Achissamach. Their work was precisely, according to the instructions they received from God through Moses.
It is worthwhile to mention how valuable was their performance, by quoting from last week’s reading: “And Moses said to the Israelites: 'See, God has called by name Bezalel the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah… And He has put in his heart that he may teach, both he, and Oholiab, the son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan” (Exodus 35:30 & 34).                             
                                                  
Total Amounts
The Torah then tells, that the total amount of Gold was 29 Chikkars (2,000 pounds app.), the Silver amounted to 100 Chikkars plus a leftover of 1,775 shekels (7,500 pounds app.) and the Copper weighed 70 Chikkars plus 2,400 shekels (5,000 pounds app.). 

The weight, of one ancient “Chikkar”, in today’s terms, is approximately 75 Lbs.  

Public money entrusted to us must always be handled with full transparency!  
According to the Torah, public funds must be handled with full transparency. Every expenditure, be it the most negligible amount, must be accounted for. In order to convey this important message, the Torah dedicates the entire Sidrah to list the raw materials that were donated. The Torah then, painstakingly details, exactly what furnishings of the Sanctuary were made out of these materials. 
A Midrash further explains, that all the craftsmen wore garments without pockets. No one of the craftsmen and their entire families used ‘perfume’ lest suspicion may arise that it was ‘taken’ from the Sanctuary’s supply of incense. 
Finally, the Torah demonstrates to us, that with public property, nothing but full openness should be the norm. As mentioned before (in the previous section) there was a leftover of 1,775 Shekels of silver. This, after molding 100 Silver Sockets for the Beams that were needed to construct the Sanctuary. Now - 1,775 Silver Shekels represent a negligible amount (The leftover Silver Shekels weighed approximately 40 Lbs. The total weight of the 100 Silver Sockets for the Beams was approximately 7,500 Lbs. The leftover Shekels made therefore up, an amount ½ % of the total Silver). The Torah nevertheless, insists on mentioning: “And from the 1,775 Shekels he made hooks for the pillars” (To attach the curtains to the pillars, Exodus 38:28).      
A Lesson well taught and learned - Public funds must always be handled with full transparency!  

Satisfaction of the work on the Sanctuary. 
Moses was very satisfied from the high quality of the work. ”And Moses saw all the work, they had done, as God commanded, so had they done it. And Moses blessed them”.  (Exodus 39:43).
                              
Holiness. 
The Sanctuary was completed and inaugurated, on the first day of Nissan, in the second year after leaving Egypt. 
Soon after completion, we are told in the final section of the Sidrah: “And the cloud covered the Sanctuary, and the glory of God filled the Tabernacle. And Moses was unable to enter the Sanctuary, because the cloud abode thereon, and the glory of God filled the Tabernacle… For the cloud of the Lord was upon the Tabernacle by day, and there was fire therein by night, in sight of the entire house of Israel, in all their voyages” (Exodus 40:34 & 38).    
It is left up to our imagination, to try and envision the incredible sense of Holiness, that befell our forefathers, as we solemnly conclude the Book of Shemot. 

It is customary to stand up while we chant the following Hebrew words at the end of the second book of the Torah – The book of Shemot (Exodus): 

“CHAZAK  CHAZAK   VE-NITCHAZEK”     
(“Be Strong, Be Strong and Let Us Strengthen Each Other”) 


Haftarah: I Kings  7:51 – 8:21, Page 580
Our Haftarah is dedicated to the (first) Temple in Jerusalem that was just completed by King Solomon. Solomon, ruled Israel for 40 years (973-933 BCE). He dedicated the first half of his reign to the building of Beit Hamikdash – The Holy Temple in Jerusalem. He spared no expense in his quest to construct God’s First Permanent House of Dwelling. Solomon ordered vast quantities of Lebanese cedar wood from King Hiram of Tzor (Tyre), while huge choice stones were quarried, from the mountains of Jerusalem, for the foundation. All was hauled by sea, and by land to the construction site. 
An army of 183,300 men, was recruited for this monumental project. The Temple’s construction was completed in the Month of Tishrei, just before Chag Hasukkot (circa 950 BCE). 
The festivities that accompanied this grandeur event, are the backdrop to our Haftarah. It starts with the following: “And King Solomon assembled all the elders of Israel, all the heads of tribes and all heads of (‘political’) sectors of Israel, to Jerusalem, to bring God’s (Holy) Ark of the Covenant, from the City of David, Known as Zion, to the new Temple being inaugurated” (I Kings 8:1). While the Ark and other furnishings of the old Sanctuary, were carried by the Kohanim to the new Temple, Solomon and all the Israelites, were celebrating, by offering a huge number of sheep and cattle. “And the Kohanim brought the Ark of the Lord’s Covenant, to its place - Kodesh Hakodashim”.


The linkage between the Haftarah and the Sidrah.
We read in the Haftarah that “…When the Kohanim left, The Cloud filled up the House of the Lord” 
(I Kings, 8:10).                                                                   
Similarly, in our Sidrah we read that some 300 years earlier, an identical event took place in the desert, as the Cloud of God filled up the Sanctuary (Please see the above section named “Holiness”}. 

 

Mon, April 15 2024 7 Nisan 5784