Monday, March 8, 2010

Pekudei

Parashat Pekudei is often neglected. Usually, it is joined to Parashat Vayakhel, and seems to be hiding behind it. Yet, every Torah reading has equal importance, since every word of the Torah comprises the word of the living G-d.

Women, Creativity and Divine Assistance
In order to understand the importance and spiritual message of Parashat Pekudei, we need to look deeper. This can be compared to the relationship between a husband and wife. Although the wife may appear to be standing in the shade of her husband, this does not indicate that she has less value. As we explained in Parashat Bereishit, both are equally created in the image of G-d. “Behind every great man is a great woman.” If we are to understand the spiritual impact of the Jewish woman, we need to look deeper, behind the facade.
Connecting the Spiritual with the Mundane
“All the gold that was applied for the work in all the work of the holy place, the gold of the offering, was twenty-nine talents, and seven hundred and thirty shekels, in the holy shekel” (Shemot 38:24). One can only wonder why the book of Shemot, which is called “The Book of Redemption,” culminates in a mere accounting of materials, rather than ending on a grand spiritual note. This teaches us an important principle in Judaism. Unlike certain religions, Judaism is not just a spiritual ideology disconnected from the world, but a practical way of life as well. We are not commanded to separate ourselves from the world while meditating on Hashem’s name. If that were the purpose of the Torah, it would have been given to the angels, who have no part in this physical world. Our purpose, however, is to build a dwelling place for Hashem below by carrying out the spiritual message of the Torah, and applying it to day-to-day concerns. It is our task to forge a connection between the Torah and even the most mundane business. The culmination of the Exodus is not simply receiving the Torah, but being able to apply it to material circumstances, such as monetary matters. Similarly, it is the challenge of the Jewish women to connect our mundane tasks of career and homemaking with the spirit of building a dwelling place for G-d below.

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