Vayak’heil – Pikudei

by Naomi Olstein

March 13, 2021

As a people, we Jews have a ritual or a ceremony for practically everything. We are a punctilious people. (dictionary definition: careful and conscientious; meticulous attention to detail; showing great attention to detail). Where did we develop this character trait? One of the places is in this week’s parsha. Vayak’heil – Pikudei is a double portion that concludes the Book of Exodus. The paired Torah portions describe the building of the Tabernacle and the anointing of the priests. The parshiot primarily contain many verses of detailed plans and descriptions of rituals, some of which may be hard to visualize sitting in such a different world today.

The construction and use of the tabernacle as a symbol of the realization of Israelite peoplehood is a powerful model for us today.Rabbi Mordechai Yosef of Izbica, who lived in the 19th century, writes, “In the building of the Tabernacle…at first, each skilled individual did his/her own part of the construction, and it seemed to each one that his/her work was extraordinary. Afterwards, once they saw how their several contributions to the “service” of the Tabernacle were integrated — all the boards, all the sockets, all the curtains and all the loops fit together as if one person had done it all. Then they realized how each one of them had depended upon the other.” So too, today we each play an ongoing role in building and maintaining our own communities (like Sof Ma’arav). That service never ends.

Parsha Vayak’heil – Pikudei and the book of Exodus teach us about the power of community — of how important and how hard community building can be. While the patriarchs/matriarchs laid the foundation for Israel’s development, it isn’t until Moses and G-d reveal their relationship to the public that the Israelites begin to solidify as a people. Exodus follows the transformation from a Hebrew family to the Israelite people and nation. Exodus reminds us that for all the challenges of living as part of Am Yisrael, the people of Israel, it is not a static but rather a transformational force propelling us to the promise of a better world and of liberation for us all. Each Pesach, we look forward again to reading about leaving Mitzrayim and finding freedom. That will be here quite soon, in about 2 weeks (March 27).

In preparation, I recommend consulting a compendium of delicious recipes and punctilious instructions for preparing for the holiday, called “THE when you live in HAWAIʻI you get very creative during PASSOVER COOKBOOK.” I’m not sure if there are any hard copies available for purchase. Maybe there might be digital copies in our future. I added some details to my copy that I borrowed from a book entitled “Is it Kosher?” After clearing all Chometz out of your home (next week), “Burn chometz and make the following declaration: ”All chometz and leaven in my domain which I have seen and which I have not seen, which I have destroyed and which I have not destroyed, of which I have knowledge and of which I have no knowledge, shall be nullified and hefker (renounced property) like the dust of the earth.”

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