So Let It Be Written, So Let It Be Done: Pekudei 2019

by Adam J. Rosenbaum

Pre-Game Chatter: To what extent are you good at finishing what you start? What stops you from bringing tasks to completion? What sorts of methods help you to overcome this?

After a myriad of instructions regarding the building of the Tabernacle, the text rejoices at its completion:

The Pitch: “Thus was completed all the work of the Tabernacle of the Tent of Meeting. The Israelites did so; just as Adonai had commanded Moses, so they did.” – Exodus 39:32

Swing #1: “It should have stated: ‘The children of Israel did …’ and then have added: ‘Thus was completed all the work …’. The following lesson is indicated: Even when the Holy One Blessed be He assists those who execute His commands He attributes their execution only to the person engaged in it. In the case of the construction of the Tabernacle the Israelites were not even expert in the work, which was executed miraculously on its own accord through Diving Providence. Despite this the text attributes the execution of the work wholly to the Israelites.” – Moshe Alshikh

Swing #2: “The Ramban notes a difficulty with the verse; the words ‘all the work’ seem to him to be redundant. Perhaps the explanation is that the intent of this text is to specify that the artisans did not employ foreign labor [of those who did not believe in the holiness of the task] in any work of the Tabernacle. Unlike the later case of the building of the Solomonic Temple, all the work [of the wilderness Tabernacle] was done exclusively by the children of Israel.” – Divrei Yirmiyahu

Swing #3: “To give birth generally means to go through labor. Similarly, the building of the mishkan required labor. The people did not merely have to bring their gifts to those in charge to make this project a success. Each person, each individual actually, had to engage in physical labor. In Exodus 39:43 we read, ‘Now Moses saw all the work (melachah, or ‘physical labor’), and here they had made it as YHVH had commanded, thus had they made.’ Building the mishkan, birthing the mishkan, was a very physical and labor-intensive process connecting the people of Israel to their creation.” – Rabbi Elana Zaiman, ‘The Birthing of the Mishkan’, from The Women’s Torah Commentary, Rabbi Elyse Goldstein, editor

Late-Inning Questions: Our commentators claim that the Mishkan is an achievement solely attributed to the Israelites’ hard work. How is it important for the Israelites to feel they could complete the construction on their own? Should the Israelites feel empowered because of this? What are the benefits of feeling empowered? Are there any drawbacks?

On-Deck at Emanu-El: Tomorrow Never Knows how you’ll feel if you miss tonight’s Beatles Shabbat at 6:00PM! Sing our Kabbalat Shabbat prayers set to Fab Four melodies!

The Big Inning at the End: Speaking of finishing what we start, one relic of baseball past is the complete game; these days, it seems like a parade of relief pitchers is necessary in order to secure a victory. For a time, a pitcher who had to be removed from games was considered a failure. Now, it’s pretty much expected. Does this diminish the game at all, or is this simply a logical evolution?

Shabbat Shalom!