FROM THE TORAH
The Eternal has imparted to Moses and Israel what shall be required in material and construction for the central religious institutions of the Children of Israel. In last week’s Sedra Vayakhel, the call is issued for the people to supply the required sacred gifts (terumah) and for Bezalel and Oholiav to organize and direct the artisans and to commence and complete the construction of the Tabernacle and the equipping of Aaron and his sons, the Kohanim (Priests). In this week’s Sedra Pekudey, the last sedra of the Book of Exodus, there is an accounting in review of the work done and its cost, and finally we are given the layout of the various components of the Tabernacle complex.
ACCOUNT OF THE WORK
These are the accounts of (Pekudey) the Tabernacle, the Tabernacle of the Testimony, which were authorized by order of Moses, the work of the Levites under the direction of Ithamar son of Aaron the Kohen:
Bezalel and Oholiav
Bezalel son of Uri son of Hur of the tribe of Judah executed all that the Eternal commanded Moses. His associate was Oholiav son of Achisamach of the tribe of Dan, graver and designer, weaver in blue, purple and crimson yarns, and in fine linen.
The value of all precious metals used in the work of the Sanctuary is as follows:
Gold subjected to the wave offering is 29 talents and 730 sacred shekels.
Silver of those recorded of the congregation is 100 talents and 1,775 sacred shekels, half of a sacred shekel per person for everyone who is counted from the age of 20 years and upward, the total of which is 603,550.
The cost of casting the sockets of the Sanctuary and of the Dividing Curtain is 100 talents of silver, one talent per socket. The remainder of 1,775 shekels is expended for the hooks of the posts, the overlay of their tops, and their bands.
Copper subjected to the wave offering is 70 talents and 2,400 shekels.
With the copper are made sockets for the entrance of the Tent of Meeting and the Copper Altar (Mizbach Nechoshet) and its copper grating and all of the implements of the Altar, and the sockets of the Courtyard all around and the sockets of its entrance, and all the pegs of the Tabernacle and all of the pegs of the Courtyard around it.
From the blue, purple and crimson yarns are made plaited garments for service in the Sanctuary and holy garments for Aaron as the Eternal commanded Moses.
The Ephod is made of gold threads that are worked into the blue, purple and crimson yarns, and twisted fine linen, the work of a designer. They made for it two shoulder pieces attached at their ends. The decorated band upon it is like it and of one piece with it, as the Eternal commanded Moses. Shoham stones, bordered by plaited work of gold, are placed upon them and engraved with seal engravings of the names of the Children of Israel, as stones of remembrance for them, as the Eternal commanded Moses.
The Breastplate (Choshen) is made like the work of the Ephod, from the same materials, the work of a designer. It is a handbreadth square and folded. Different specified stones are set in four rows, three stones in each row. The stones are mounted in borders of plaited gold. The names of the Children of Israel are engraved, each one upon one of the stones, for the twelve tribes.
Two rings of gold are made and placed upon the two ends of the Breastplate. Two braided, interwoven chains of pure gold are made for the Breastplate and attached to the rings. Two frames of gold are made, and the other ends of the two braided, interwoven chains of pure gold are attached to them. The gold frames are attached to the front of the shoulder pieces of the Ephod.
Another two rings of gold are made and attached to the edges of the inner side of the two respective ends of the Breastplate, facing the Ephod. Yet another two rings of gold are made and fastened to the lower part of the two shoulder pieces of the Ephod yet above the design work upon it. Through these two sets of rings, the Breastplate is attached to the Ephod by blue thread so that the Breastplate rests upon the design work of the Ephod and is not displaced, as the Eternal commanded Moses.
The Robe (Me’il) of the Ephod is made entirely of blue, the work of a weaver. In the middle is an opening for the head with a binding around it so that it does not tear. Along the hem of the Robe there are bells of pure gold alternating with ornamentation resembling pomegranates. The Robe thus described is for officiating, as the Eternal commanded Moses.
Other Priestly Furnishings
The Tunics (Kotnot) of fine linen, the work of a weaver, are made for Aaron and his sons, also the Headdress (Mitznefet) of fine linen, the adorned Turbans (Migba’ot) of fine linen, the Linen Underpants (Michnesey Vad) of twisted fine linen, and the Sash (Avnet) of twisted fine linen and blue, purple and crimson yarn, the work of a weaver, as the Eternal commanded Moses.
“Holy to the Eternal”
A Consecration Plate (Tzitz Nezer Hakodesh) of pure gold is made, and upon it is engraved, in the manner of seal engravings, “Holy to the Eternal.” It is suspended on a blue thread on the front of the Headdress, as the Eternal commanded Moses.
Blessing of Moses
This completes all of the work of the Tabernacle of the Tent of Meeting, the Children of Israel having done all that the Eternal commanded Moses. Then the Tabernacle is brought to Moses along with all of its specified accessories and consumables, including the vestments of Aaron and his sons, as described above, in accordance with all that the Eternal commanded Moses. When Moses sees all of the work thus done, he blesses the Children of Israel.
ARRANGEMENT OF THE TABERNACLE
The Eternal gives Moses instruction as to the arrangement and anointing of the Tabernacle and its appurtenances:
Set up the Tabernacle of the Tent of Meeting (cf. Exodus 26:1-13; 36:8-18) on the First Day of the First Month. Put there the Ark of the Testimony (cf. Exodus 25:10-16; 37:1-5), and screen it off with the Dividing Curtain (cf. Exodus 26:31-35; 36:35-36). Bring the Table (cf. Exodus 25:23-30; 37:10-16) and arrange its setting. Bring in the Menorah (cf. Exodus 25:31-40; 37:17-24) and light its lamps. Place the Golden Altar (Mizbach Zahav) for Incense (cf. Exodus 30:1-10; 37:25-29)) in front of the Ark of the Testimony, and place the Screen of the Entrance to the Tabernacle (cf. Exodus 26:36-37; 36:37-38).
Position the Altar of Burnt Offering (cf. Exodus 29:37-46; 38:1-7) outside of the entrance of the Tabernacle of the Tent of Meeting, but place the Laver between the Tent of Meeting and the Altar and supply it with water (cf. Exodus 30:17-21; 38:8). Then enclose the Courtyard (cf. Exodus 27:9-19; 38:9-17) around and install the Screen of the Gate of the Courtyard (cf. Exodus 38:18-19).
Use the Anointing Oil (cf. Exodus 30:22-33) to anoint the Tabernacle and all that is in it to make them holy. Then anoint the Altar of Burnt Offering and its implements to make it most holy. Anoint the Laver and its base to make it holy.
Bring Aaron and his sons near to the entrance of the Tent of Meeting. Wash them with water. Upon Aaron put the holy garments and anoint him to be holy and to serve Me as priest. Upon his sons put the Tunics and anoint them as you anointed their father to serve Me as priests. Their anointing shall validate their priesthood into the future forever. (Cf. Exodus 28:1-29:36)
Moses acts in accordance with all that the Eternal has commanded him. So it is that on the First Day of the First Month of the Second Year, the Tabernacle is set up by Moses with its Boards (cf. Exodus 26:15-30; 36:20-34), its sockets, its poles, and its pillars (cf. Exodus 35:11). He spreads the Tent over the Tabernacle and places the Covering of the Tent over it from above, as the Eternal commanded Moses (cf. Exodus 26:7-14; 36:8-19).
He puts the Testimony into the Ark and positions the poles on the Ark. He puts the Propitiatory upon the Ark from above (cf. Exodus 25:17-22; 37:6-9). He brings the Ark into the Tabernacle and positions the Dividing Curtain to screen off the Ark of the Testimony, as the Eternal commanded Moses.
He places the Table in the Tent of Meeting on the north side of the Tabernacle outside of the Dividing Curtain. He duly arranges the setting of Bread before the Eternal, as the Eternal commanded Moses (cf. Exodus 25:30). He places the Menorah in the Tent of Meeting opposite the Table, on the south side of the Tabernacle. He kindles the lamps before the Eternal, as the Eternal commanded Moses. He places the Golden Altar in the Tent of Meeting before the Dividing Curtain. He burns Incense of spices (cf. Exodus 30:34-38) on it, as the Eternal commanded Moses. Then he sets up the Screen of the Entrance to the Tabernacle.
He places the Altar of Burnt Offering at the entrance of the Tabernacle of the Tent of Meeting, and he offers upon it the burnt offering and the meal offering, as the Eternal commanded Moses. He sets up the Laver between the Tent of Meeting and the Altar and supplies it with water for washing. Moses and Aaron and Aaron’s sons would wash from it their hands and their feet when coming to the Tent of Meeting and when drawing near to the Altar, as the Eternal commanded Moses.
He sets up the Courtyard surrounding the Tabernacle and the Altar, and he installs the Screen at the Gate of the Courtyard.
Moses has completed the work.
PROFOUND PRESENCE OF THE ETERNAL
Then a cloud covers the Tent of Meeting, and the Profound Presence of the Eternal fills the Tabernacle. Moses is thereby prevented from entering the Tent of Meeting. When the cloud is lifted from the Tabernacle, then the Children of Israel can proceed in their journeying. Otherwise they have to wait for the cloud to be lifted. The cloud of the Eternal is over the Tabernacle by day, and fire, by night, in the sight of all the House of Israel throughout their journeys.
Chazak! Chazak! Venitchazek!
Be strong! Be strong! Let us be strong!
FROM THE PROPHETS
Haftarah for Shabbat Pekudey
I Kings 7:51-8:21
When Solomon finishes all of the construction for the House of the Eternal, he transfers into its treasuries all of the sanctities of David his father, the silver and gold, and the vessels. He then assembles in Jerusalem the elders and all of the Israelite tribal chiefs to remove the Ark of the Covenant of the Eternal from the City of David, Zion. All the men of Israel are assembled before King Solomon in the month of Ethanim during the Festival of the Seventh Month.
The Kohanim (Priests) and the Levites carry up the Ark of the Eternal and the Tent of Meeting and all of its sacred items. King Solomon and all of the Congregation of Israel who are gathered around him before the Ark offer countless sacrifices of the herd and of the flock. The Kohanim bring the Ark to the Sanctuary of the House, to the Holy of Holies, under the wings of the Cherubim, which surround the Ark and its rods from above. The rods were long enough for their ends to be visible from the holy place before the Sanctuary, but they could not be seen from the outside. There they have been until this day.
There is nothing in the Ark except the two stone Tablets which Moses deposited there at Horeb when the Eternal covenanted with the Children of Israel upon their Exodus from the land of Egypt. As the Kohanim come out of the Sanctuary, a cloud fills the House of the Eternal, preventing them from ministering. It is filled with the Profound Presence (Kavod) of the Eternal!
Then declares Solomon:
The Eternal said that He would dwell in the thick cloud.
So I have built for You an Exalted House,
a place in which to dwell forever!
The King then turns around to bless the Congregation of Israel,
all of whom rise:
Blessed is the Eternal, the God of Israel,
who spoke with His mouth to David my father
and by His hand has fulfilled it:
I had not chosen a place in which to establish My Name,
out of all of the tribes of Israel,
but I did choose David to be over My people Israel.
It was in his heart to build a House for the Eternal,
and the Eternal approved of his aspiration.
“But you shall not build the House;
rather, your son shall build it.”
So has the Eternal established His word:
As I sit upon the throne of Israel,
I have built the House and provided a place there for the Ark
containing the Covenant of the Eternal which He made with our ancestors
when He brought them out from the land of Egypt.
FROM THE MIDRASH
Exodus Rabbah 51:1
Actions of the Faithful
“These are the accounts of the Tabernacle…
which were authorized by order of Moses…
by the hand of Ithamar son of Aaron the Kohen.”
Rabbi Tanchuma bar Abba opened his discourse
with these words:
“A man of faithfulness is abundant in blessings,
while one who hastens to grow rich
shall not be held guiltless.”
You will discover that whoever is faithful—the Holy One, blessed be He, brings blessing as a result of that person’s actions; while one who is not “shall not be held guiltless.” The one who is faithful is Moses, “trusted in all of My House” (Numbers 12:7): whichever projects he oversaw as treasurer were blessed, because he was faithful.
“While one who hastens to grow rich shall not be held guiltless”: This was Korach, who was a Levite, but he sought to usurp the High Priesthood as well. What was his end? “The earth opened its mouth” (Numbers 16:32) and swallowed him!
Moreover, Moses was a “man of faithfulness” when he was made treasurer of the work of the Tabernacle. Our Rabbis taught: There should be no less than two officers appointed to supervise matters involving money. Yet we find that Moses was appointed sole treasurer! How could this be? Although Moses was the sole treasurer of the precious materials that went into the construction of the Tabernacle, he always called in others and depended upon their calculations, as was said, “These are the accounts of the Tabernacle,” but not “which Moses (alone) performed”; rather, “which were authorized by order of Moses” and performed “by the hand of Ithamar….!”
Exodus Rabbah 51:4
The Tabernacle is Testimony of God’s Forgiveness
“These are the accounts of the Tabernacle,
the Tabernacle of the Testimony…”
What is the meaning of “Testimony?”
Rabbi Shimon son of Rabbi Ishmael taught: It is testimony to all the inhabitants of the world that there is forgiveness for Israel! Mirkin Commentary: The Tabernacle, where the Holy One, blessed be He, has placed His Presence, testifies thereby to all the world that Israel is forgiven for the sin of the golden calf.
Moreover, it is testimony to all the world that the Tabernacle was warranted by the Holy One, blessed be He. Mirkin Commentary: Solomon himself expressed the skeptical amazement of the world when he said, “But will God really dwell on earth? Even the heavens and the heavens of heavens cannot contain You. How much less this House that I have built?” (I Kings 8:27) Indeed the nations thought that Moses was making the Tabernacle on his own accord! But when they saw that the Holy One, blessed be He, bestowed His Presence in the Tabernacle (cf. Exodus 40:34-38), this served as testimony supportive of Moses, that he had been mandated by the Holy One, blessed be He, to make the Tabernacle.
Rabbi Isaac taught this as compared to a king who married a woman and loved her more than he should have. Eventually he became angry with her and left her, and her neighbors said to her: He is not coming back! But sometime later the king sent word to her: Prepare my palace, open the beds, for on such-and-such a day I shall return to you! On the appointed day the king arrived and was reconciled with her. He joined her in the palace and shared a meal with her. Her neighbors were in disbelief, except that the aroma of spices convinced them that the king was reconciled with her.
Similarly, the Holy One, blessed be He, loved Israel and brought them before Mount Sinai, gave them the Torah and called them “a nation of priests” (Exodus 19:6). But after forty days they sinned, and the gentile nations said that He would never be reconciled with them again, as was said, “They shall say among the nations, ‘They shall sojourn here no more’” (Lamentations 4:15)! But when Moses went to plead for mercy on their behalf, immediately the Holy One, blessed be He, forgave them, as was said, “The Eternal said, ‘I forgive in accordance with your plea’” (Numbers 14:20)!
To this said Moses: Master of the universe, I for my part am convinced that You have pardoned Israel, but make it evident in the sight of all the nations that You harbor no complaint against them! Said the Holy One, blessed be He, to him: By your life, I place My Presence in their midst, as was said, “Let them make for Me a Sanctuary, and I shall be present in their midst” (Exodus 25:8), evidence amidst the nations that I have pardoned them! Therefore was it called “the Tabernacle of testimony,” as testimony it is with respect to Israel in the sight of all the nations that the Holy One, blessed be He, has pardoned them.
Exodus Rabbah 51:5
Israel is Security for God and His Testimony
“These are the accounts of (Pekudey) the Tabernacle (Mishkan),
the Tabernacle (Mishkan) of the Testimony…”
Said Rabbi Shimon ben Yochai: When the Roman emperor Hadrian entered the Holy of Holies, he arrogantly blasphemed God. Said Rabbi Chiya bar Abba: This may be understood through the words of David, “It seemed as if they (the foreign nations) were wielding their axes upward in a thicket of trees” (Psalms 74:5): Would You allow that if they could cut down cedars for ladders, they could reach You? But since they cannot so hope to reach You, as is written, “For they attempted evil against You, intending mischief which could not be accomplished” (Psalms 21:12), they attack us instead, as was said, “The nations have attacked Your inheritance, they have defiled Your Holy Temple, turning Jerusalem into a heap of ruins” (Psalms 79:1)! And why should they have been allowed to do this? Because we served as security in pledge for Him, as was said, “These are those entrusted for (pekudey) the Divine Presence (Mishkan)…”!
Rabbi Chiya bar Abba enriched his lesson by comparing the idolatrous nations to the king’s enemy who wishes to supplant him but cannot. What does he do? He finds a statue of the king which he would like to topple, but fears that the king would still kill him if he toppled his image. So, instead, he digs under the base, intending to destabilize the footing of the statue in order to cause it to fall. So do the idolatrous nations wish to wage war against the Holy One, blessed be He, but cannot, so instead they come to wage war against Israel. This is what David said: “The kings of the earth stand up, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Eternal and against His anointed one” (Psalms 2:2), but since they cannot succeed, they wage war against Israel: “Let us tear away their cords (which support the Eternal and His anointed)” (ibid. 3): Since we cannot succeed against the Eternal, then let us uproot Israel from the world! When would that we possible? When they have nothing concrete to secure, but for now the Tabernacle of God’s Presence (Mishkan) is secured by them as its pledge; thus read it: “These are those entrusted for (pekudey) the Divine Presence (Mishkan), the Tabernacle, which is security (mashkon) for the Testimony!”
Exodus Rabbah 51:8
Discrimination and Reconciliation
“The artisans report to Moses
that the people have brought more than enough gifts…”
“These are the words [devarim] which Moses spoke to all of Israel
on the other side of the Jordan in the Wilderness…
between Paran and Tophel
and Lavan and Chatzerot and Dee Zahav.
When Aaron was confronted with the people’s demand for “a god to lead them” (Exodus 32:1), he said: “Take off the golden rings that are in the ears of your wives, your sons and your daughters, and bring them to me” (ibid. 2)! The people complied: “All of the people removed the golden rings that were in their ears and brought them to Aaron” (ibid. 3). They continued to contribute their gold until Aaron said: You have brought enough! This is suggested in the subsequent reproof by Moses when he reviewed with the people the preceding events: “These are the words of reproof [devarim] which Moses spoke to all of Israel…dai zahav (‘enough gold!’)” (Deuteronomy 1:1).
It may be likened to a young, inexperienced man who arrives at a place where he is solicited to contribute tzedakah. He responds generously and does not stop contributing until he is told,
“Enough!” Then he moves on and encounters another solicitation, not for tzedakah but for a Roman circus (the venue of anti-humanitarian gladiatorial combat). To this the young man responds with indiscriminate generosity until he is told, “Enough!”
In similar manner did Israel contribute gold for the molten calf until they were told, “Enough!” But then, to their merit, they contributed gold for the Tabernacle also until they are told, “Enough!” as was said: “They take from Moses all of the terumah which the Children of Israel have brought and continue to bring every morning. The artisans report to Moses that the people have brought more than enough gifts of terumah. So Moses causes a notice to be circulated among the people to cease bringing materials, and they cease” (Exodus 36:3-7). Said the Holy One, blessed be He: Let their generous gifts of gold for the Tabernacle count as atonement for the indiscriminate gold of the molten calf!
“These are the accounts of the Tabernacle …”
Morever, said the Holy One, blessed be He, when you made the golden calf, your exact words were, “These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up from the land of Egypt” (Exodus 32:4)! Now that the contributions that you have brought for the Tabernacle are introduced by the same word, “These are the accounts of the Tabernacle…” (Exodus 38:21), I am reconciled to you.
Pesikta Rabbati 6
What David held sacred
“When Solomon finishes all of the work for the House of the Eternal,
then he brings all of the sanctities of David his father—
the silver and gold, and the vessels—
and he transfers them into its treasuries.”
(I Kings 7:51)
In other words, Solomon did not use the sanctities of his father David
for constructing the Temple:
According to one view, David had requested it: “Master of the universe, I foresee prophetically that eventually our Temple will be destroyed. What then shall become of all of the precious materials that I have salvaged from the nations’ idolatrous temples that I destroyed? If they are used for the construction of our Temple, I worry that the nations of the world will view their future destruction of our Temple as their gods’ recompense for my destruction of theirs.” Therefore he prayed that Solomon would not need to use his father’s sanctities in the building of the Temple.
But then what should they have been used for?
There was a famine for three years in a row during the life of David (cf. II Samuel 21:1), and even though he had amassed a fortune of silver and gold which he intended for the building of a Temple, he failed to redirect any of it for the relief of starvation during the famine. God said to him: “My children are dying of hunger, and you are collecting money for the construction of a building? What you should be doing with it is saving lives!” Because of his failure to act, God swore that Solomon would not need to use any of what his father had set aside for the construction of the Temple.
Pesikta Rabbati 6
Finishing the Work of Creation
“Solomon finishes all of the work for the House of the Eternal…”
(I Kings 7:51)
What is the implication of “finishes all of the work?”
Compare this with God’s creation of the world: “God blessed the Seventh Day and sanctified it, as He ceased from all of His work, that God had created to do” (Genesis 2:3)—He stopped short of finishing all of His work; He left some of creation yet to do! What did God leave undone after the week of Creation?
The answer is found in Solomon’s building of the Temple. When Solomon came and built the Temple, the Holy One, blessed be He, said: “Now, with the completion of the Temple, all of the work is finished, all of Creation, all of the work of Heaven and Earth, is complete, as ‘Solomon has finished all of the work…’” (I Kings 7:51)!
For that reason was he named Shlomo, which is the same as sheleymah, “finishing,” in that the Holy One, blessed be He, finished the Work of Creation, by the work of the hands of Solomon!