Pekudei 5771 – Gilayon #692

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Parshat Pekuday – Shkalim

He erected the Courtyard all around the Tabernacle and the

Altar, and he emplaced the curtain of the gate of the Courtyard. So Moshe

completed (vayechal) the work. (Shemot 40:33)


By the

seventh day God completed (vayechal) His work

which He had done.

(Bereishit 2:2)

The word

'completed' (vayechal) – [this is said] about

completion of a thing that is perfect, and is not lacking anything (as in

"So Moshe completed the work"). So the work decreed by the Creator

was completed and perfect, and not lacking anything, for the world was created

in the greatest possible perfectness.

(Haktav Vehakabala, Bereishit 2:2)


Moshe could

not enter the Tent of Meeting – and only afterward: "He called to Moshe, and Hashem spoke to him from the Tent of Meeting" – In the

very moment that Moshe completed the work of erecting the Tabernacle, he first drew

away from it entirely, and returned to be with the nation. Neither his enterprise

is expressed visibly in the Tabernacle, nor his relation to the Torah of

Hashem whose testimony was presented there [the

tablets]. This testimony turned the Tabernacle into the "dwelling place of

Hashem's glory" and into the "Tent of

Meeting", where Hashem convened with his people.

The nation – that which established in this very Tabernacle a seat and

an altar for Hashem's Torah, in order to devote

itself to it. The nation – the one in front of which Hashem

placed His glory in the dwelling place of the Torah which is in this world, so

that the House will be for His glory. In the very moment of the elation, the

moment of Hashem's closeness to Israel, even Moshe our Teacher drew

away and returned to be in the midst of the nation…


Samson Raphael Hirsch, Shemot 40:35)



Small Details – The Day of Reckoning

Shlomo Fox


memory of two dear women,

Chana Safrai and Orit Segal of blessed memory.


week marks the day when they were taken from us.


are the reckonings (pekudei) of the

Tabernacle, the Tabernacle of Testimony, which were reckoned (pukad) at Moshe' bidding. The labor of the Levites

was under the authority of Itamar, son of Aharon the priest (Shemot



Hebrew root "Peh-Kof-Dalet" can have

various meanings: commandment, counting, appointment (nomination), remembrance.

Thus, we recall the verse "And Hashem remembered

(pakad) Sarah", Israel's redemption "God will surely remember

(pakod yifkod)

you…", "If these men die the common death of all men, and be visited

after the visitation of all men, then the Lord has not sent Me.", and also deposit!



verse points out Itamar, the son of Aharon, as responsible for the work of the Levites, and

the author of "Hamidrash Hagadol"

asks: "Are Nadav and Avihu

not greater than him?", and answers: "Rather, Moshe foresaw

what would later happen to them and said: 'Lest Israel will say they died from

the sin of the offering of their office' – and thus he observed 'you shall be

clear before the Lord and before Israel' (Bamidbar



'knew'! Therefore, he appointed Itamar, in order to

prevent slander. And if he clearly knew what will happen to Nadav

and Avihu, the question is raised: What did Moshe do

with this knowledge of the fate that awaits them?


the end of the Parasha, with the arrival at the

conclusion of the Book of Shemot, it becomes clear

that the hint to the death of Aharon's sons 'screams

loudly'. After all, we are at the inauguration of the Tabernacle, on the

eight's day, on that very day. This is about the day when the deposit is taken

– 'Nadav and Avihu': 'On

the first day of the first month shall thou set up the Tabernacle of the Tent

of Meeting.' (Shemot 40:2): On this day the Tabernacle was set up.


Gemara (Babylonian Talmud, tractate Zevachim, page 115b) asserts the knowledge of the impending death of the sons

of Aharon as early as the revelation of Sinai:


we learned from a Beraita: (Shemot 19:22) 'And let the priests also, that come near to the Lord,

sanctify themselves, lest the Lord break forth upon them' [this was said] at

the revelation of Sinai. Rabbi Yehoshua ben Karcha says: This is about the

abstaining of the firstborn. Rabbi says: This is about the abstaining of

Nadav and Avihu. It is

alright regarding him who said this is about the abstaining of Nadav and Avihu, this is just as

is written: (Vayikra 10:3) "Then Moshe said unto Aharon:

'This is it that the Lord spoke, saying: Through them that are nearest Me I

will be sanctified, and before all the people I will be glorified.' And Aharon held his peace." However regarding him who said

this is about the abstaining of the firstborn, where is it hinted that that Hashem will be sanctified by Nadav

and Avihu?


it is written: (Shemot 29:43) "And there I will meet

with the children of Israel;

and the Tent shall be sanctified by My glory."

Don't read "by My glory [bichvodi]",

but rather "by those who are honored by Me [bichvodai]".

This is what Hashem told Moshe, and it was not

understood until the sons of Aharon died. Once

they died, he said: "Aharon my brother, your

sons died in order to sanctify the name of the Holy One blessed be He. Since Aharon knew that his sons were close to God, he remained silent

and received a reward, as is written: (Vayikra

10:3) "and

Aharon held his peace".


knew that the inauguration of the Tabernacle will require sanctifying through

human life, only that he did not know who the "deposit" will

be that was deposited until the inauguration of the Sanctuary. Only once Nadav and Avihu sanctified the

Sanctuary, Moshe understood what was hinted to him at the time when he was

commanded regarding the building of the Sanctuary.


moment before 'the inauguration of the Tabernacle', Moshe finds time for some procedure,

and counts what was done for the Tabernacle. Moshe is interested in

giving a detailed account for the Tabernacle work, and the midrash author (Shemot Rabba 51:6) finds that his financial statement did not add up, and he

was missing an explanation for 1775 shekels! It turns out that Moshe understood

he had to give a full report of his spending, even though he acted according to

Hashem's word.


this is the midrash:


told them: 'These are the numbers of the Tabernacle' – this and that was spent

on the Tabernacle. As he was sitting and counting, he forgot about one

thousand seven hundred seventy five shekels, which went into the making of hooks

for the pillars. He sat and wondered, said: Now Israel will say 'Moshe took

them'. What did he do? The Holy One blessed be He lighted up Moshe's eyes,

and he saw how [that amount was spent] on hooks for pillars. At that

instant, all of Israel

made peace with the work of the Tabernacle. Who brought this about? Moshe, by

sitting down and appeasing – thus: "these are the numbers of the

Tabernacle". And why did he do the accounting with them? [After

all,] the Holy One blessed be He trusted him, as it is

written: (Bamidbar 12:7) "My servant Moshe is not so; he is trusted in all My

house." And why did Moshe tell them 'come, let's deal with the

Tabernacle and we shall account before you'? Because Moshe overheard the

mockers within Israel speaking behind his back, as it is written: (Shemot 33:9) "And it came to pass, when Moshe entered into the

Tent, the pillar of cloud descended, and stood at the door of the Tent; and the

Lord spoke with Moshe" and (Shemot

33:8) "and

they looked after Moshe", and what were they saying? Rav

Yochanan said: Happy is she who gave birth to him. What

does she see him do? All his days, the Holy One blessed be

He speaks with him. All his days, he is perfect to the Holy One blessed be He.

This is what is meant by "and they looked after Moshe". Rav Chama said: They were saying 'Look at the [fat] neck of

the son of Amram', and his friend answered: 'Regarding

the man who ruled over the making of the Tabernacle, don't you want him to be

rich?' When Moshe heard this, he told them: I swear, the Tabernacle is completed,

and I will give you an account; he told them: Come and we will make an account,

therefore: 'These are the numbers of the Tabernacle'.


a different place, the midrash

(Shemot Rabba 51:2) "discovers" that

there is actually a "surplus":


came to Betzalel, saw that there were things left

over after building the Tabernacle, and said to the Holy One blessed be He:

'Master of the Universe, we did the Tabernacle work and there are things left

over, what do we do with the rest?' He told him: Go and build a 'Tabernacle

of Testimony'.


the Gerrer Rebbe, author of

Chiddushei HaRIM, asks: But

we have not found that anything was actually done from what was left over from

the Tabernacle. And he explains in the name of Rabbi Simcha

Bunim from Przysucha (Pshis-cha) of blessed memory:


prayer says 'the one who desires poems of song', for it happens that after the

poems and the singing, the interior which is within the heart is lighted up

and filled with zest and will to say poems and to praise forever,

incessantly. And this is [the meaning] of 'the one who desires poems of

song', that the Holy blessed be He desires that which is left after the

singing: the zest and the clinging [to God]. Likewise regarding the

Tabernacle: they volunteered for the work of the Tabernacle, and due to the

extent of their zest, they wanted to volunteer more, as it is written: 'But the

work had been enough for all the work, to do it – and there was extra'.

And about Betzalel, our sages of blessed memory said

that he knew how to combine letters by which the Heavens and the Earth were

created, and that the building of the Tabernacle was akin to the creation of

the Heavens and the Earth, which was orderly. It is also said about Betzalel 'and to think thoughts', because he created and

mended from every thought of every person of Israel, that which was required to

be done, in the right order, and he asked: What will we do with the extra? In

other words – what to do with this volunteering, which they keep offering

incessantly, more and more, and the Holy One blessed be He said to him: Go and

make from it the Tabernacle of Testimony, meaning that this is the essence

of the building of the Tabernacle, which is a testimony to Israel that the

Holy One blessed be He dwells in their midst incessantly.


we connect the two parts of this midrash,

then according to this interpretation, Moshe understood that there is a need

for a precise spending report as a stage in the erecting of the Tabernacle,

for channeling and institutionalizing the spirit of volunteering. Thus, the

work of the Tabernacle never stops; it continues in the everyday deed and



this way, we can explain the verse which describes the state of the Tabernacle:

'And the cloud covered the Tent of Meeting, and the glory of the Lord filled

the Tabernacle.' (Shemot 40:34)the

Tabernacle was filled! (hitmale)


seems that what is meant is not a physical filling, but rather fulfillment

resulting from achievement. Like it is written about Betzalel

(Shemot 35:31) 'He has imbued (vayimale)

him with the spirit of God, with wisdom, with insight, and with knowledge, and

with [talent for] all manner of craftsmanship'. Likewise, it is said about Calev: 'But my servant Calev,

because a different spirit was with him and he followed Me

(vayimale acharai) wholeheartedly,

I shall bring him to the Land to which he came, and his offspring shall possess

it.' (Bamidbar 14:24) or (Devarim 1:36; Yehoshua 14:14) 'except Calev the son of Jephunneh he will see it, and I will give him the land he

trod upon, and to his children, because he has completely followed (mila acharei) Hashem." And likewise about the leadership of Yehoshua: 'And Yehoshua the son

of Nun was full (male) of the spirit of wisdom, because Moshe had

laid his hands upon him. And the children of Israel obeyed him, and they did as Hashem had commanded Moshe.' (Devarim



cloud covers and Hashem's glory is full – this is the

meaning of 'days of service (miluim)' –

it was about following (lemale acharei) the word of God. And like in the Hasidic

interpretation, the purpose of the fulfillment, of the wholeness, is to do

above and beyond, to continue to want and to do.


interpretation is in harmony with the explanation of the death of Nadav and Avihu inasmuch as their

sin was in the excess of enthusiasm:


the two sons of Aharon' – they, too, out of their

joy; since they saw a new fire, they were about to add love onto love, 'and

they took' – there is no 'taking' except joy. (Sifra,

Shemini, 1).


the Tabernacle was filled, and the filling – the enthusiasm – led to a lacking,

to the death of Aharon's sons. Because of this, Moshe

could not enter the Sanctuary. Indeed, Moshe waited for an invitation, for Hashem's call to enter, and this call is heard at the very

beginning of the Book of Vayikra (called).

Hamidrash Hagadol concludes its

interpretation of our parasha and of the Book of Shemot with the words of the midrash (Pesikta DeRav Kahana 1:5):


explanation for 'on the day that Moshe finished' (Bamidbar

7:1)… Rabbi Yochanan said: 'on the day that Moshe finished', [that is]

on the day that enmity disappeared from the world, for as long as the

Tabernacle had not been erected, there was enmity and envy and rivalry and

quarrel in the world. But when the Tabernacle was erected, the world was given

love and affection and friendship and justice and peace. And what is the

reason? 'I shall hear what God will speak when He speaks peace to His people

and to His pious men, and they will not return to folly… Kindness and truth

have met; righteousness and peace have kissed. Truth will sprout from the

earth, and righteousness will look down from heaven… Righteousness will go

before him, and He will place it on the way of his steps.' (Tehillim 85:9-14)


Resh Lakish: Why should I

learn from a different place – it is learned from its own place: 'May the Lord

raise His countenance toward you and grant you peace.' (Bamidbar 6:26)

Hamidrash Hagadol adds:


Merciful One shall grant us abundant peace and protect us, as is written: 'Like

flying birds, so shall the Lord of Hosts protect Jerusalem, protecting and saving, passing

over and rescuing' (Yeshaiahu 31:5), and it says: 'The Lord of

Hosts shall protect them' (Zecharia 10:15). Thus, He shall protect His

people with peace. Thus, the Merciful One shall have mercy on us.


the midrash Pesikta DeRav Kahane


"to establish the Tabernacle" (Bamidbar 7:1) – Rabbi Yehoshua, in the name of

Rabbi Shimon ben Yochai

[says]: it does not say 'to establish the Tabernacle', but rather 'to establish

(et) the Tabernacle' (i.e. the optional, non-translatable Hebrew preposition

'et' which can precede a direct object is explicitly stated). What is established

together with it? The world is established together with it, for until

the Tabernacle was established, the world had been trembling; since it was

erected, the world settled down.

This year, we

are reading 'Parashat Shekalim'

as Maftir on the Shabbat of Pekudei

– according to the spirit of the above, it can be said that the volunteering is

best expressed through an affixed gift and though an amount that is equal for

everyone. What is important is the spirit and not the

quantity. Half a shekel symbolizes the need for connection. To arrive at wholeness,

a person has to look for the 'missing piece', in order to be fulfilled and to

fill the Sanctuary. 'In my heart, I will build a Sanctuary'…

Shlomo Fox teaches at the Hebrew Union

College, at Beit Shemuel, and at 'Kolot'.



And the cloud

covered the Tent of Meeting, and the glory of Hashem

filled the Tabernacle. Moshe could not enter the Tent of Meeting because the

cloud rested upon it and the glory of Hashem filled

the Tabernacle.

(Shemot 40:34-35)

But will God

really dwell on the earth? Even the heavens to their uttermost reaches cannot

contain You, how much less this House that I have

built! (I

Kings 8:27)

One would say:

"When our love was strong, we could lay together on the flat of a sword;

now that our love is not strong – a bed of sixty cubits is not large enough for

us." Rav Huna said:

The things are written in biblical verses – first it says: "and I will

make Myself known to you there and I will speak to you from over the covering",

and we learn from a beraita that the Ark was nine

handbreadths high, and the covering itself a single handbreadth, making a total

of ten – in the beginning when God loved Israel, the Divine Presence would

reveal itself even in such a cramped place! But regarding the Temple it is said: And the House that Shlomo built for the Lord was sixty cubits long and twenty

wide and thirty cubits tall. In the end, it is written: So spoke the Lord: The

sky is My throne and the earth My footstool; what

house shall you make for Me? When Israel

sinned, the entire Temple

was not sufficiently spacious for the Divine Presence to dwell in it.





Half-Shekel as a Metaphor for the Chasm between the Infinite and that which is Demanded of Man

Rabbi Yehuda bar Simon said: Moshe heard three things from the

Almighty, was frightened, and recoiled. When God said: 'And they shall make for

Me a sanctuary, and I will dwell therein', Moshe said:

Master of the Universe, Behold, the heavens and the heavens of the heavens

cannot contain you! He replied: "Moshe, it is not as you imagine, but

twenty boards at the north, twenty at the south, eight at the west, and eight

at the east, and I will compress My Presence and I will dwell among you."

And it is written, I will appoint a meeting with you there and I will speak

with you. (Shemot 25:22)

And when He

said: Command the Children of Israel and say to them: Of my near-offering, my


(Bamidbar 28:2) Moshe said: "Master of the Universe, were I to gather

all the animals of the world and all the cattle, they would not suffice for a

single offering, and all the trees in the world would not supply a single fire,

as is written: Lebanon is not fuel enough, nor its beasts enough for

sacrifice!" (Yeshaiahu 40:15) He replied: "Moshe, it

is not as you imagine, but rather: You are to sacrifice one lamb in the morning

(Bamidbar 25:4), and not two together, because I neither eat nor drink

[Literally, "there are neither food nor drink before me"]. Why? If

indeed there were food before me, when you spent forty days and forty nights

with, and food you did not eat, and if there were food before me, you would

have eaten. But a pleasing odor [means]: be punctilious in offering a pleasing

odor." And when He said, they are to give, each man, a ransom for his

life, Moshe wondered and asked, "Who can give full ransom for his life?

For it is written: The price of life is too high, and so one ceases to be,


(Tehillim 49:9) A brother cannot redeem a man, or pay his ransom to

God." (ibid. 8)

He replied to him: "It is not as you imagine, but rather this shall

you give, as this shall you give." Rav Huna said in the name of Rav,

"The Almighty – we cannot find Him out – He is great in power…  (Iyov

37:23) The Holy

One, Blessed Be He, does not inconvenience Israel. When Moshe heard this, he

proclaimed: Happy the people who have it so. (Tehillim

144:15) and

Happy is he who has the God of Yaakov for his help (Ibid.


(Tanhuma, Ki Tissa,




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