Pekudei 5769

June 24, 2009

8 min read


Vayakhel-Pekudei (Exodus 35-40 )

GOOD MORNING! The Seders are Wednesday night, April 8th and Thursday night, April 9th.

About three weeks until Pesach and counting ... It's time to give some thought to making the Seder more enjoyable and effective in creating a warm family experience. Most Jews would like their children to feel positively about being Jewish. You cannot transfer your feelings, but you can create the atmosphere and the experience which will engender positive feelings. Anyone I have ever met who loved being Jewish, fondly reminisced about their Zaideh (grandfather) presiding over the Shabbat table or their Bubbie (grandmother) lighting Shabbat candles ... and their Seder! You are a link in that chain!

Please check out for some fresh ideas for your Seder - especially for the kids: games, questions, charades, marshmallow bingo, treasure hunt ... Also, for insights into the Haggadah, Stories and Insights, Family Activities (Passover Stories, Games & Tips for the Seder, Arts & Crafts, Print & Play and Dr. Mitzvah and the Stolen Seder), Laws, Cookbook - and if you are aurally-inclined ! For tremendous understanding and intelligent insights for the Seder, call Talmudic University 305-534-7050 to get a free copy of Rabbi Yochanan Zweig's Pesach Seder Cards. And for Project Inspire "4 Questions and 2 Jokes."


Remember that the Seder is for the kids, to transmit our history and understanding of life. You've got to make it interesting and intrigue them to ask questions. If a person asks a question, he'll be inclined to hear the answer! The only way to transmit your love and feeling for Judaism is through shared, positive experiences. You need to be excited about the Seder! Some ideas from Rabbi Shimon Apisdorf:

1. Invest time before the Seder. Trade in your Maxwell House Haggadah for one with commentary. Then read it! See what intrigues you. Look at a commentary to get interesting insights to share with your family and guests. Look at The Survival Kit Family Haggadah, Artscroll Haggadahs and Book of Our Heritage by Eliyahu Kitov. Available at your local Jewish bookstore, at or by calling toll-free to 877-758-3242. NO EXCUSES!

2. Get Passover story books for the kids now! Read to them the stories before Pesach. Have them or help them make a little play to present at the Seder. Buy them Artscroll Children's Haggadah!

3. Have quizzes and prizes. Ask questions and give 20 points for a right answer. 100 points and they get a prize! Start with the youngest and work up through the ages. If a child answers a question that's not his, he loses 20 points! Name the plagues, the 4 sons, the number of years in slavery - make your list of questions before the Seder. (You can even prep the kids before the Seder with the answers!)

4. Plan out the Seder with little surprises and props. During the section on the plagues throw into the air plastic animals when you get to the Wild Beasts; use ping pong balls for the plague of Hail. Be creative. Give each child a brown paper bag filled with his props. Have fun! (you can also order the "Bag of Plagues" props available at your local Jewish bookstore, at or by calling toll-free to 877-758-3242).

5. Have questions for discussion at the table! Passover marks the birth of the Jewish people. It's a time to reflect on the meaning, value and implications of being Jewish. Here are some questions to discuss:

  1. On a scale of 1-10, how important is being Jewish to you? Please explain.

  2. If your son, daughter, brother, sister, or best friend told you that they planned to raise their children without any Jewish education or identity, how would you react?

  3. If you thought the existence of Israel was in danger, would you risk your life to help save it?

  4. What do you like about being Jewish? What don't you like?

  5. Is it important to you or for your children to have mostly Jewish friends? Why?

For more on "Passover Seder" go to!

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Torah Portion of the Week

Moshe relays the Almighty's commands to refrain from building the Mishkan (the Tabernacle or Portable Sanctuary) on the Shabbat, to contribute items needed to build the Mishkan, to construct the components of the Mishkan and the appurtenances of the Cohanim. The craftsmen are selected, the work begins. The craftsmen report that there are too many donations, and for the first and probably the only time in fundraising history, the Jewish people are told to refrain from bringing additional contributions!

Pekudey includes an accounting of all the materials that went into the making of the Mishkan and details of the construction of the clothing of the Cohanim. The Tabernacle is completed, Moses examines all of the components and gives his approval to the quality and exactness of construction, the Almighty commands to erect the Tabernacle, it's erected and the various vessels are placed in their proper place.

* * *

Dvar Torah
based on Growth Through Torah by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin

The Torah states regarding donations made for the clothing of the Cohen Gadol (High Priest),

"And the heads of the tribes brought shoham stones (onyx) and (other) stones to be set for the ephod (an apron-like garment) and for the breastplate" (Ex. 35:27).

Why does the Torah make specific mention that the Princes of the tribes were the ones bringing the stones?

Rashi (Rabbi Shlomo ben Yitzchok) who lived 1040-1104 and is considered the leading commentator on the Torah and the Talmud) cites the words of the Sages who note that the heads of the tribes brought the last donations for the Sanctuary. The Princes said, "We will let the other people donate whatever they will donate, and we will bring whatever is missing." However, the people brought all that was needed. The heads of the tribes then asked, "What can we still do?" The only things remaining were the special stones that were needed and this is what they brought. Since they procrastinated, the Torah hints a reproof to them by spelling the name nesiim (princes) lacking one Hebrew letter yud.

Rabbi Yeruchem Levovitz comments that their original intention appears to be virtuous. They said that they would bring whatever was needed at the end. (The Sanctuary was built through donations - except the foundations of the pillars which came from compulsory communal funds. The Princes felt that the needs would be too great for the people to cover; they underestimated the national fervor and generosity!) This appears to be a very generous proposal on their part. However, we learn from here that since their behavior touched on the negative trait of laziness, their behavior was considered incorrect and they were censored for it.

Whenever a negative character trait could be an underlying factor for your behavior, be very careful to clarify what your true motivation is. This especially applies to the trait of laziness. It is easy to give many good-sounding reasons for not doing things. When laziness could be the real reason for your lack of action, be suspicious that your reasons are actually rationalizations by which you are trying to excuse yourself. Our lesson: Don't procrastinate in preparing for Pesach! It can become too late.


The Israel Russian Program of Aish provides Seders for needy families - 1,000 Jews. To help:
or call: 905-764-1818 ext. 231


Hundreds of families in Israel are unable to afford groceries for Yom Tov (the holiday). This group gives them coupons redeemable only for food. They arrange with the supermarket to get an extra 10% on every dollar you give them. I know they are legitimate and I give them money! Send your tax-deductible contribution to:

Keren Y and Y

805-A Roosevelt Ct.

Far Rockaway, NY 11691

Fulfill the special mitzvah of Maos Chitim,
helping the poor for Pesach!

(or go to

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Real knowledge is to know
the extent of one's own ignorance.
--  Confucius

With Special Thanks to

Phillip Roth

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Kalman Packouz

Click here for Rabbi Packouz's bio
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