Pekudei (Exodus 38:21-40:38 )
GOOD MORNING! Last week we dealt with the anomaly that the Jews have been the most hated and persecuted people throughout history, yet have paradoxically been a Light unto the Nations and have helped civilize the world -- and that both phenomena were prophesied!
We also dealt with the Torah prophecy that the land will be barren and only produce when Jews lived there though in the natural course of the world, the land should have produced for subsequent dwellers. And now to our final prophecy in the "Seven Wonders of Jewish History" -- that the Jews will be dispersed to the four corners of the world to eventually return to the Land of Israel...
7. RETURN FROM EXILE
It has been prophesied in the Torah that Jews would be exiled from the land and that they would return to the land: "And it shall come to pass when these things shall come upon you, the blessing and the curse that I have placed before you, you will take it to heart amongst all of the nations where God has scattered you; you will return to the Lord your God and you will listen to His voice according to all that I am commanding you today, you and your children with all of your heart and with all of your soul. Then the Almighty will bring back your captivity and have mercy upon you; and He will return and gather you from among all of the nations where He has dispersed you. If your dispersed ones will be even at the ends of the heavens -- from there God Almighty will gather you and from there He will take you. And God your Lord will bring you to the land that your fathers inherited and you shall inherit it and He will do good for you and make you more numerous than your forefathers" (Deuteronomy 30:1-5).
No other people has ever gone into exile and survived for thousands of years to come back to re-establish a national homeland. The return of the Jews from exile to the Land of Israel was nothing short of a miracle!
What does it all mean?
When we look at Jewish history, we see a history where the Jewish people have defied the laws of nature and the laws of history! We have survived and impacted this world though we have been thrown out of our land not once, but twice! We have impacted the world perhaps more than any other people in history -- the concepts of the value of human life, universal education, justice and equality, the importance of and goal of world peace (as opposed to glorifying war), the importance of a strong stable family as a basis for a moral foundation for society, individual and national responsibility for the world -- though we were beaten, killed and exiled from one nation to the next. Though few in number and spread to the four corners of the earth, we survived as a people, never assimilating into anonymity. Even our land, the Land of Israel, defied the laws of nature, only fertile when the Jewish people inhabited it.
Coincidence? Good luck? A roll of the dice? Perhaps -- except that each and every phenomena was prophesied and predicted in the Torah hundreds and thousands of years before the events. Does it make you think that perhaps something is going on here? That perhaps there is a special relationship between the Almighty and the Jewish people?
The Almighty, the Jewish people and the Torah are intertwined. In the past 3,300 years there has been effort after effort -- from within as well as from without -- to redefine and redirect our people. Each and every one has failed. If you wonder why, then perhaps the time has come to read the Torah and find out (I highly recommend the Artscroll Stone edition of the Torah) -- and perhaps also Permission to Receive and Permission to Believe by Lawrence Kelemen. The Torah is not only our heritage, it is the game plan for the Jewish people and the world!
Pekudei, Exodus 38:21 -- 40:38
Pekudei includes an accounting of all the materials that went into the making of the Mishkan (the portable Tabernacle) 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.
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based on Growth Through Torah by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin
Moshe teaches Betzalel the order of construction of the Mishkan (Portable Sanctuary) starting with the Ark. Betzalel respectfully maintains that first one builds the home, then one makes the furnishings. Moshe replies that Betzalel is correct and the Almighty Himself had thus commanded Moshe, though Moshe conveyed instructions regarding the Ark first because of its primary importance. The Torah praises Betzalel for his intuitive understanding of the Almighty's will with the verse:
"And Betzalel, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Yehudah did all that the Almighty commanded Moshe" (Exodus 38:22).
Rabbi Yeruchem Levovitz comments that we see from here the importance of doing things in their proper order. One always needs to clarify his priorities and to have the organizational skills to do things in their proper order.
This is an important tool for accomplishing anything in life. One needs to know what he must do and then he must have an order of priorities. We will never have enough time to do everything we would like to do. By being aware of the order of importance of what you have to do, you will ensure that you will effectively accomplish the most possible within the limitations of the time allotted to you.
Each day make a list of the various tasks you need to complete. Then decide on a proper order in which to do them. If you don't prioritize and don't set aside the time you won't accomplish what's most important in life -- spending time with your family, growing as a human being, helping others or even preparing for the Seder. No one on his death bed ever wished he spent more time at the office.
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based on Growth Through Torah by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin
After being told to anoint his brother Aharon (Aaron), Moshe was told in reference to Aharon's sons:
"And you shall anoint them as you anointed their father" (Exodus 40:15).
Why did the Almighty give Moses this special instruction?
Rabbi Meir Simcha HaCohen explains in his commentary Meshech Hochmah that when Moses was told to anoint his brother Aaron, he was able to do it with a complete heart. Moses, the younger brother, was the leader of the Israelites and was happy that his brother was the High Priest. However, in reference to Aaron's sons, the situation was different. Moses' own sons were not going to succeed him as leaders. So, when it came to anointing Aaron's sons, Moses might have felt envy. Therefore, the Almighty told Moses to anoint Aaron's sons with the same whole heartedness and joy with which he anointed their father.
Our lesson: If even a person as great as Moses needs to internalize attitudes to avoid envy, all the more so do we! Also, it IS possible to feel joy and enthusiasm for another person's success even if he has something that you do not.
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Forbidden fruit creates many jams