Pekudei (Exodus 38:21-40:38)

CoverDesign_PekudeiThe American investment manager Diane Garnick (born 1967) once remarked that:

"Accounting does not make corporate earnings or balance sheets more volatile. Accounting just increases the transparency of volatility in earnings."

Just how volatile are the earnings of the burgeoning Jewish community we read about this week in Pekudei? An accounting must now be made of all the gold, silver, and copper the Israelites have donated for the construction of the Tabernacle -- as prescribed last week in Vayakhel (Exodus 35:1-38:20). Meanwhile, Bezalel, Aholiav, and the assistant artisans complete the Tabernacle as communicated by Moses in the previous reading of Terumah (Exodus 25:1-27:19).

There appears to be recurrent repetition in these later parashot of Exodus — but is this merely repetition? Too often in life, we realize that once we regain something we previously relinquished, we appreciate it as though for the first time. In experiencing repetition, you come to learn that everything that exists does so only by divine grace. In this way, repetition is instructive.

The blueprint for Tabernacle closes Exodus and thus teaches us an important lesson about our relationship to Torah learning. All the gold, silver, and copper of thinking must ultimately be accounted for in how we construct our lives. How to go about making a sanctuary -- one that provides a space or way for the divine to dwell in everything we do -- this is the closing challenge of Exodus to every individual in search of religious community.

- Rabbi Aubrey Glazer

Artwork note: This week's illustration depicts the divine presence manifesting itself in the form of a cloud that descends upon the Mishkan. From Exodus 40:34: "And the cloud covered the Tent of Meeting, and the glory of the Lord filled the Mishkan." Seen here, however, the cloud also calls to mind the column of smoke/pillar of fire theophany that appeared earlier in Exodus to guide the Israelites out of Egypt. Illustration by Christopher Orev Reiger.