Parashat Vayakhei/Pekudei • Exodus 35:1-40:38

In this week’s Torah portion, Pekudei, Moses gives a detailed description of the building of the tabernacle, the mobile sanctuary the Israelites carried in the dessert.  The instructions for building the tabernacle, are laid out in minute, almost obsessive detail by Moses.  Everything from the metals to be used to the clothes that needed to be worn to how the incense should be burnt and used are explained component by component.

One of the questions that arises is  why did the Torah feel it was so necessary to go into such detail about the building of the tabernacle?

One explanation that is offered for the need for detail in this week’s Torah portion is suggested by Sforno, a 15th century Torah commentator.  He says that rather than refer to the items used to build the tabernacle by their generic name, i.e. utensils, or even specific name, i.e. fork, that every single “fork” was given an individual name.  Sforno suggests that this individual naming of each item leads to each item being of permanent significance to the entire functioning of this mobile sanctuary.

It would be easy to take for granted the importance of the fact that blue, crimson and purple yarn were all used to make the vestments for the priests.  However, what Sforno wants to highlight is all three yarns were not only necessary but integral to the completion of the tabernacle. The same can be said true for all of us.  Each of us makes a permanent mark on the world.  Even if we are not always aware of it, our existence leaves an indelible imprint on the fabric of the world.  Just as the tabernacle would not be truly complete without every jewel, or ring, or piece of yarn so to would the world not be complete without you in it.

Shabbat Shalom.

Rabbi Micah Ellenson

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