Parashat Pekudei

God is in the Details

The Torah teaches us to think globally and act locally.

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Provided by Canfei Nesharim, providing Torah wisdom about the importance of protecting our environment.

Pekudei is the Torah portion of details. This short, seemingly redundant parashah does little more than sum up the information presented already twice in the preceding chapters.

In Terumah and Tetzaveh, Moses receives from God the instructions for building the Mishkan, including its utensils and the priestly garments. Vayakhel describes the actual construction of these items. Whereas Pekudei begins with an accounting of all the material that went into the project, and concludes with a further recounting of the Mishkan's parts as they are finally erected into a single structure by Moses.

canfei nesharimConsidering how incredibly sparing the Torah is with words, it seems strange that this parashah should spend so much time simply summing up what was said before. Why wasn't it enough for the Torah to simply state: "And the people did all that Moses commanded, and Moses assembled the Mishkan." Perhaps the answer lies in the nature and purpose of the Mishkan, and its relationship to the creation.

Revelation & Redemption

According to Nahmanides, the Mishkan was the continuation of the Sinaitic revelation into history. Just as God spoke to Moses from the top of the mountain, so He continued to address him from out of the Mishkan. The Mishkan--and the Temple after it--was a "portable" Mount Sinai. It was a place of continual revelation, where the presence of God could be felt and experienced vividly.

According to Midrash (Numbers Rabbah 12:13), there was another aspect to the Mishkan. The Sages describe it as a microcosm of the universe, with each of its vessels corresponding to another part of the creation: the tent of the Mishkan paralleled the firmament, the menorah paralleled the sun and moon, the laver paralleled the oceans, and so on, through the days of creation.

By describing the Mishkan as such, the Midrash suggests that the structure was a model of a redeemed creation. It fulfilled God's original intention of the world as a setting for revelation. This was the nature of the Garden of Eden, and it will be the nature of the future world, when "the knowledge of God will fill the earth as waters cover the sea (Isaiah 11:9)." In the interim, the Mishkan and Temple served as loci of God's revelation in the world.

Embrace the Details

Thus, the meaning of the Torah's precise recounting of the Mishkan's construction may not lie in the specific verses themselves, but in their overall effect. The Torah is telling us that details--no matter how small--are actually of supreme importance.

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Rabbi Eliezer Shore received his doctorate from Bar-Ilan University on the subject of Language and Mystical Experience in the Thought of Rebbe Nachman of Breslov. He currently teaches at various universities and colleges in Israel, and writes on the topic of Jewish spirituality.