For the week ending 5 March 2022 / 2 Adar Bet 5782

Parashat Pekudei

by Rabbi Yaakov Asher Sinclair -
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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 which had been fashioned. The Bnei Yisrael bring everything to Moshe. He inspects the handiwork and notes that everything was made according to Hashem’s specifications. Moshe blesses the people. Hashem 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 Hashem’s glory was resting there. Whenever the cloud moved away from the Mishkan, the Bnei Yisrael would follow it. At night the cloud was replaced by a pillar of fire.


A World of Kindness

“Betzalel ben Uri ben Hur of the tribe of Yehuda did everything that Hashem commanded Moshe. With him was Oholiav ben Achisamach of the tribe of Dan.” (38:22-23)

Imagine a world where everyone looked the same.

Same eyes. Same expressions.

Same height. Everything the same. Wouldn’t that be a great world? We'd all get along so well!

And yet, Hashem created the exact opposite: a world where everyone is different from everyone else.

We’re all different heights. We all have different interests. We all have different personalities, different character traits, different strengths and different weaknesses. Plus, we all have different opinions.

But all these differences can (and sometimes do) lead to discord, harmful speech and hatred for the other. So why did Hashem create so many differences? The Chafetz Chaim said that the blessing of “borei nefashot rabbot v'chesronon” means that Hashem created a myriad of different people, and each one of us has our own strengths — but, more importantly, our own weaknesses.

The doctor can't farm, so the farmer will help make his food. The farmer never went to medical school. So the doctor will help the farmer. Hashem desired a world of kindness, so He created a giant tapestry of different people who all need each other. That’s the meaning of “Olam Chesed Yiboneh” — “The world will be built on kindness.”

“Betzalel ben Uri ben Hur of the tribe of Yehuda did everything that Hashem commanded Moshe.”

The tribe of Yehuda was the most elevated of the tribes. From Yehuda came the kings of the Jewish People. In spite of the fact that Betzalel “did everything that Hashem commanded Moshe,” nevertheless, Betzalel needed a partner — Oholiav ben Achisamach from the tribe of Dan. Dan was the lowest of the tribes, and despite this, or maybe because of this, Betzalel needed him. The Mishkan was a microcosm of the world. And just as the world is built on kindness, so too the Mishkan needed to be built on kindness. Maybe we can find a hint to this in Oholiav’s name: For he is called Oholiav ben Achisamach. “Achisamach” could be read as, “My brother depended.” In other words, even though Oholiav came from the lowest of the tribes, without him Betzlalel could not create the microcosm of the world of kindness that was the Mishkan.

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