TORAH TUESDAYS: PARSHAT VAYAKHEL-PEKUDEI
BY HENNIE BLACK
tHIS WEEK’S PARSHA LOOKS AT WHAT SEEMS TO BE A VERBATIM REPETITION OF PREVIOUS PARSHIOT WHEN MOSHE WAS INSTRUCTED TO BUILD THE MISHKAN.
HOWEVER, THE REPETITION SERVES AN IMPORTANT PURPOSE IN THAT IT POINTS TO A CHARACTER TRAIT THAT IS MUCH NEEDED.
This week’s parsha of Vayakhel-Pekudei is a double portion. When reading these parshiot, it quickly becomes apparent that they are almost a replica of two parshiot that we just read – Terumah and Tetzaveh.
Why the repetition?
Rabbi Avraham Pam answers that there is one fundamental difference in the language between the two parshiot. In the first case, it is the instructions of G-d given to Moshe; the words that are used are “ועשית” [You should do], indicating in the future tense of what needs to be fulfilled. In contrast, this week’s parsha describes the implementation of the building of the mishkan–“ויעש” [And so he did], indicating the past tense of an action fulfilled.
The commandment to do was in fact done
In life, we often begin a project with great enthusiasm. But how often do we complete the project? How many unfinished projects do we have in our lives?—unfinished diets and exercise programs, unfinished decluttering and organizing, unfinished goals.
Many times we do not complete what we set out to do. That is why the Torah repeats the construction of the mishkan with all its details to teach us that the Jewish people completed the project. Because of this, it was worthy to repeat.
There is a character trait in Judaism that we are supposed to strive for—it is called “זריזות,” which means “alacrity.” It suggests having excitement and enthusiasm and of being proactive. There are two times when we need this trait of alacrity: when we start a project and when we need to get across the finish line.
Summoning the second instance of alacrity is actually harder than the first because it is natural to have a lot of excitement when we begin a project. As a project goes on, our will and desire typically wanes as we lose interest in the project. It may be because we face obstacles or because something else that is new and exciting has come up.
By repeating the details of the mishkan after its completion, we learn that the Jewish people displayed the type of alacrity that helped them get the job done.
It is interesting that Moshe blessed the Jewish people only after the mishkan was completed. Wouldn’t it have made more sense for Moshe to give them a blessing at the outset so that they would have success in completing the mishkan?
Moshe was responding to the two challenges we have in life. One challenge is developing a relationship with G-d. The second challenge is maintaining it. It can be argued that the second challenge of maintaining our relationship with G-d is even greater than the first. This is because repetition and rote may set it with the day in and day out business that is everyday life.
At the beginning of the building of the mishkan, the Jewish people were excited and enthusiastic. It was just after the period of the sin of the golden calf and after G-d, in His anger, had threatened to wipe out the fledgling nation. This tragic episode was followed by Moshe’s praying on their behalf to receive forgiveness.
That was a lot of drama, excitement, and uncertainty! Moshe understood that the mundane aspects of routine would settle in and that the Jewish people’s relationship with G-d would begin to falter. That is why he blessed them after the mishkan was completed, a form of prayer that their connection to G-d would continue to be maintained.
Let us build our relationship with G-d through all the aspects of our lives– during those times of emotional highs and lows, as well as those times when things are holding steady and calm.