Parashat Vayakhel - Pekudei
PARSHA OVERVIEW - VAYAKHEL
Moshe Rabbeinu exhorts the Bnei Yisrael to keep Shabbat, and requests donations for the materials for making the Mishkan. He collects gold, silver, precious stones, skins and yarn, as well as incense and olive oil for the Menorah and for anointing. The princes of each tribe bring the precious stones for the Kohen Gadol's breastplate and ephod.
PARSHA OVERVIEW - PEKUDEI
The Book of Shemot concludes with this Torah portion. 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 that had been fashioned. Bnei Yisrael bring everything to Moshe. He inspects the handiwork and notes that everything was made according to
PARSHA INSIGHTS - PEKUDEI
The New Israel
"And he made the breast-plate as a craftsman, like he made the ephod, from gold, turquoise, purple and crimson wool..." (39:8)
At the beginning of Megillat Esther, Achashverosh throws a party to end all parties. The party of the millennium. He was celebrating his unassailable grip on the throne of the Persian Empire.At this party, Achashverosh brought out the vessels of the Holy Temple which the Babylonians had plundered and caroused with.
But he didn’t stop there. Achavshverosh's party attire consisted of the vestments of the High Priest. Why did he do this? Was it some elaborate spoof? Was Achavshverosh poking fun at the Jewish People and their prophecies of the demise of his all-mighty kingdom? Or was there something more sinister behind this charade?
"And the land was formless and empty and darkness on the face of the deep." (Bereishet 1:2)
These words form part of the opening words of the Torah. They hint to four mighty empires that will subjugate the Jewish People. The first, Babylon, will snatch the crown of Empire from the Jewish People, and then the Persian, Greece and Roman empires will successively snatch world domination, one from the other. Eventually, the last of those empires, Rome and its cultural heirs, will return the kingship to the Jewish People.
When that happens, “The lost ones will come from the land of Ashur” (Yeshayahu 27:13) — and the final exile will end. The name Ashur is related to the Hebrew word ishur. An ishur is a certification. Each nation who takes the kingship from the Jewish People seeks to "certify" itself as being the true and final recipient of the crown of the world. But they can only do this by proclaiming themselves the true heirs. They claim to be the "New Israel,” so to speak. They claim that the testament of faith of the Jewish People is old and that they have a new one.
This, in essence, was what Achashverosh was attempting to do at his millennial party. He was certifying himself as the “New Israel.” His party was a grotesque replication of the Temple service. The vessels of the Temple were there and were being used. He was dressed as the Kohen Gadol, the high priest. He even went so far as to name his ministers after the offerings of the Holy Temple. He was trying to utilize those forces of holiness for his own means, to set his own seal on world domination, using the higher spiritual forces. This was no charade.
But we know what transpired. The truth and eternity of Hashem, His Torah and His nation of Israel prevailed, and will always prevail.