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Torah Tuesdays with Hennie Black- Parshat Pekudei




The Mishkan is finally completed in this week’s parsha of Pekudei.

The parsha is an almost verbatim repetition to Parshat Tetzaveh that we read several weeks ago, which discussed the details of making the vessels of the mishkan and the clothing of the Kohen.

Although one difference that we do note in this week’s parsha is that after every vessel or clothing, there is an additional verse that says that the work was done “just as G-d commanded Moshe.”

Once all the work is completed, Moshe blessed the people for having done their jobs as they were commanded to do. Why should a person who merely does what he is employed to do get blessed?!

Moshe blessed them not because they did a good job, but because they put their own ego aside. It wasn’t about them; it was about fulfilling G-d’s will exactly as it was communicated to them.

The purpose of the Mishkan was for the Jewish people to have a tangible connection to G-d. Did it really matter to G-d what the dimensions of the mishkan was or the craftsmanship used in making the vessels? 

G-d only told the Jewish people to build the mishkan for their own benefit. Aside from a space in which to commune with G-d, the building of the mishkan itself provided an opportunity to connect with G-d through the fulfillment of the commandments around its construction.

Throughout the building of the mishkan, Moshe was concerned that the Jews may get so involved with the actual construction and its various utensils that they might lose sight of the main objective–connection to and relationship with G-d.

Moshe was filled with pride and amazement as the Jewish people executed the building of the mishkan and its vessels generously and selflessly. They had all the right intentions. And because of this, Moshe blessed them.

Rabbi Shalom Rosner explains that Moshe gave them a blessing in order to celebrate their achievement and to give them much needed positive reinforcement. He wanted to give them a boost of encouragement and show them how much potential is within them.

Rabbi Sacks z”l shares an amazing story of a head teacher in a school in London who came to him for advice because her school was falling apart.

She spoke of the low morale within the school with regard to teachers, parents and students. Students were leaving; performance was low. She did not know what to do.

Rabbi Sacks z’l responded, “I want you to live by one word—celebrate.”

She responded with a sigh, “You don’t understand. We have nothing to celebrate. Everything in this school is going wrong.”

To which Rabbi Sacks z”l answered: “Find something to celebrate. If a single student has done better this week than last week, celebrate. If someone has a birthday, celebrate. If it’s Tuesday, celebrate.”

She seemed unconvinced, but promised to give the idea a try. Eight years later she came back and reported about the changed experience that resulted from celebrating every little thing.

We all need positive reinforcement. Celebrating our and others’ achievements will motivate us to be more, to do more. We should celebrate the small achievements as well, not just the big ones. Celebrating has the potential to change lives.

And that’s exactly what Moshe did. Moshe blessed the Jewish people, giving them a pat on the back, praising them for doing great and accomplishing the building of the Mishkan as instructed.

As Rabbi Sacks z”l explains, “We all grow to fill other people’s expectations of us. If they are low, we remain small. If they are high, we walk tall.”

The question I will leave you with today is “What are you going to celebrate?” Watch the transformation and the magic that will happen!

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