Torah Weekly

For the week ending 12 March 2016 / 2 Adar II 5776

Parshat Pekudei

by Rabbi Yaakov Asher Sinclair -
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The Book of Shmot concludes with this Parsha. 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. Bnei Yisrael bring everything to Moshe. He inspects the handiwork and notes that everything was made according to G-d’s specifications. Moshe blesses the people. G-d 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 G-d's glory was resting there. Whenever the cloud moved away from the Mishkan, Bnei Yisrael would follow it. At night the cloud was replaced by a pillar of fire.


An Original Replica

“These are the reckonings of the Tabernacle…” (38:21)

I’m not a very political person, and at the risk of incurring the wrath (and the red pen) of the editor of this august periodical, I would like to put in my two cents about the “Ladies’ Shul” at the Kotel HaMa’aravi, the Western Wall.

The Ramban, in his introduction to the book of Shemot, explains that the Avot, the Patriarchs and the Matriarchs, were the Merkava — the mystical “chariot” through which G-d’s presence rests in this world. With the Egyptian exile, the Jewish People lost this spiritual elevation.

We did not return to that exalted state of the Patriarchs and the Matriarchs until the giving of the Torah at Sinai. The Sinai experience was perpetuated by the Mishkan, the Tabernacle, which was like a “portable Mount Sinai experience”, as the Ramban says, quoting the book of Iyov, “…when G-d’s mystery was above my tent.” (Iyov 29:4)

In effect, then, the Tabernacle was no more than a re-creation of Sinai, and Sinai itself a re-creation of the Merkava — who were the Patriarchs.

“As long as...Sarah was alive, there was a candle lit from Shabbat eve to Shabbat eve. Her dough was blessed, and a cloud was attached to her tent.” (Midrash Rabba, Ber. 60:16, as explained by Rashi on Ber. 21:12)

In the Tabernacle, three of the main vessels corresponded to Sarah’s ability to bring the Shechina (Divine Presence) into this world. The Menorah re-created the light of Sarah’s Shabbat candles; just as Sarah’s candles burned all week, so too the Ner Ma’aravi, the western candle of the Menorah, burned continuously in the Mishkan. The Lechem haPanim, the “Show Bread” in the Tabernacle, was blessed in the same way as Sarah’s dough — it did not become stale. And the cloud of the Ketoret, the spiceoffering that the Ramban (end of Parshat Tetzaveh) describes as causing the Shechina to dwell on the Jewish People, clearly parallels the cloud that was attached to Sarah’s tent.

But why would you want a replica when you have the original? A synagogue is no more than a “Mikdash ma’at”, a miniature Temple, and both the Temple and the Tabernacle were just ways to replicate what Sarah did in her tent.

Why settle for a replica when you can have the original?

It should also be noted that even through we speak of Gd using the masculine pronoun “He”, the word “Shechina” is a feminine noun, and the Shechina is the Divine Presence in this world brought down by the holiness of the Jewish Woman in the Jewish home.

  • Source: Rabbi Reuven Subar

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