Parshas Pekudei

This week we complete Sefer Shmos {the Book of Exodus} with parshas Pekudei. "Aileh Pekudei haMishkan {These are the accountings of the Mishkan}. [38:21]" The parsha begins with an accounting of all of the materials donated toward the construction of the Mishkan (the harbinger of a fine Jewish profession) and then moves on to the actual construction.

The Ramban explains that Shmos is the Book of Exile and Redemption. As such, it concludes with the Mishkan being completed and Hashem's Divine Presence descending upon it. That close proximity and relationship with Hashem is, of course, the state of absolute redemption.

"And Hashem spoke to Moshe saying: On the first day of the first month, set up the Mishkan. [40:1-2] And it was on the first day of the first month of the second year, the Mishkan was set up. And Moshe set up the Mishkan. [40:17-18]"

Rabi Chiya bar Yosef taught: during the seven days preceding the above-mentioned day, Moshe would assemble and disassemble the Mishkan twice daily. Rabi Chanina said it was done three times a day. [Medrash Tanchuma 11]

Why was this done and what can we learn from this?

The Ramban writes that perhaps this was done in order that the Levites, whose responsibility would be assembling and disassembling the Mishkan during the travels through the wilderness, would see exactly how it was done.

The Nesivos Sholom offers a beautiful explanation. We've mentioned before that the Mishkan was meant to bring the Shchinah {Hashem's Presence}, not just onto the building, but also onto each and every member of Klal Yisroel.

The Mishkan, amongst the many things that it paralleled, also paralleled the human being. It was composed of the Holy of Holies-where the aron {Holy Ark} was situated; the Kodesh {Holy}-containing the Menorah, the Shulchan {Table} and the Golden Altar; and the Courtyard-containing the Outer Altar. Man too, is comprised of three facets: the mind, the heart and the limbs. Just as the Mishkan was only complete and able to bring down the Shchinah when it consisted of all three components, so too man needs to sanctify his entirety, thereby rendering himself worthy of Hashem's presence.

The process that Moshe went through during the seven-day consecration period of the Mishkan reveals to man the process that he'll go through during his lifetime endeavor of transforming himself into a vehicle for the Shchinah, into a Mikdash m'at {a microcosm of the Tabernacle}.

The Mishkan had been erected; it was a place for the Shchinah to rest. Yet, it was then taken apart and the Shchinah could no longer be present. It was rebuilt and once again, the Shchinah rested upon it.

Throughout our life, there are many times when we've reached the stage that our Mishkan seems to be built. Certain things seem to be behind us and we're ready to move on to higher aspirations and battles. But then we take a tumble, our Mishkan seems to come apart and we no longer feel ourselves worthy to carry the Shchinah. We wonder if we will ever again feel that closeness. If we will ever again be worthy of being a Mikdash m'at. If the Shchinah will rest upon us again.

The process of Moshe needs to be our guiding light as we wind our way through the dark maze of life. The Mishkan came apart and the Mishkan was rebuilt. Time after time after time. It was not worthy of Hashem's presence. It was once again worthy of Hashem's presence. Not worthy. Worthy. The Shchinah rested upon it. Again, the Shchinah rested upon it. And again. And again…

Rabi Chiya bar Yosef taught that Moshe assembled and disassembled twice a day. Those two times allude to the two stages of the day, morning and evening. Times in life when things are bright and getting even brighter and the times in life when things are dark and getting even darker. Both times have their dangers and their opportunities. The danger of disassembly and the potential for assembly. But no matter how dark things seem to be getting, no matter how many days have already turned to night, there is always a morning that follows that night. The Shchinah can again rest on the person.

Rabi Chanina taught that Moshe went through this process three times a day. Seven days, three times a day, a total of twenty one times.

Hashem has different names to describe the different ways that He connects to this world and the different ways that He allows us to connect to Him. Twenty-one is the numerical value of the Name EHY-H, I will be. That is the Name for t'shuvah {repentance}. I will be… What was, was. I'm not going to get bogged down with the past. From this point on, I am a brand new person. Although I've made this decision and resolution many times in the past and I haven't held to it, EHY-H. This time it will be different. Once again the Shchinah will rest upon me. The patience of a father never runs out with his child. The son wants, the son tries, the son builds; the father returns.

As Moshe blessed Bnei Yisroel {the Children of Israel} after all of the Mishkan's vessels and garments had been properly and lovingly constructed [Rashi 39:40]: May it be His will that the Shchinah will rest upon the toil of your hands and the pleasantness of Hashem should be upon you.

Chazak, chazak v'nischazek,

Good Shabbos,
Yisroel Ciner

Mazel Tov to Jeff Stern and Elke Leiberman on the occasion of their engagement. May the blessings of Moshe be upon them and the Mishkan they plan to build together.

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