Preliminary note: This particular overview is preceded by my earlier summaries on sichos for Terumah and Vayakhel (in this order), and concludes the book of Shemos/Exodus, along with the running theme of creating a dwelling place for G-d in this world.
The name of any weekly Torah reading is of deep significance. It’s never random, nor just to designate the introductory words or scene; rather, it intimates a vital, overall theme of the entire reading!
The following concepts are essentially a continuation of the two preceding sichos (and summaries), for parshiyos Terumah (as well as Tetzaveh) and Vayakhel (which, most years, is conjoined with Pekudei). However, there is one clear-cut difference between the latter two: Vayakhel discusses how the Jewish people received instructions to prepare the Mishkan with its implements and carried out the work, donating fifteen things including labor of the body, inspiration of the soul, and their material funds – their mortal role. Pekudei concerns the final inaugural steps of the facility (annointing oil and offerings), and fulfillment of the people’s efforts when G-d’s glory suffused the Mishkan – His role in the work. No revelation can compare to the light at that occassion, and no joy is like the intensity of witnessing the reward of illumination drawn down through our efforts, often ones by which we’d been, at a time before, disillusioned.
Such is the choreography of the dance of life; the equilibrium sustaining existence; a cosmic inhale and exhale; the bond of giving and receiving. We are invigorated from on High (in Kabbalistic terms, “isarusa dele’eila”), which we in turn draw on to execute our mission to fulfill Hashem’s will. Our dedication stimulates G-d (called “isarusa delisata”) and elicits (“nimshach,” in Hebrew) a renewed energy from Above into the world. The portions delineating the Mishkan’s establishment mirror this order:
- Terumah and Tetzaveh: Hashem commands Moses how to design Mishkan with its vessels, and the priestly garments. This is the first Isarusa Deli’eila – Divine guidance and illumination;
- Vayakhel: Moshe relays comprehensive instructions to all the people, who enthusiastically execute the work. This is the Isarusa Delisata – Our triggering endeavors below;
- Pekudei: Hashem fills the new Mishkan, the physical abode we created for Him, and completes the cyclical process. This is the second Isarusa Deli’eila – Divine revelation in the results, fresh G-dliness breathed into the universe as a result of our positive actions.
What stage presents the greater revelation of G-dliness – Vayakhel or Pekudei, the worldly preparations or the Divine consummation? When we rejoice in the success of our neshama’s Shlichus to build a home for Hashem in this world, our joy is redoubled when we recognize His hand guiding us throughout the process, and how we’ve accomplished it with His koach. Then, the light is out of this world (yet within it)! Thus, the Pekudei moment is superior in this regard.
When Vayakhel and Pekudei are read together during most years, the message they impart is once again the wonders achieved, and G-dly Essence discovered, through fusion of the unlimited with the limited. Sometimes, we don’t have the luxury of much time for our “preparations,” or there seem to be insufficient hours in the day, but Hashem can give us the ability to actualize in one week what we normally could in two, in an hour what we’d strive for in a day, etc., when we aren’t in it just for our own desire but devoted to His. When it’s to build your Mishkan, i.e. the framework through which you’re going to reveal and connect to Him, He can elevate you above time and hasten the process. Be reasonable with managing your time, but not limited by it; it’s not how much we have but how we use it, and have G-d on our side when we welcome Him into our lives. See how you become maximally efficient, when you converge Him Who’s truly ‘without time’ with ‘time (zman)” by seeking to unite every effort with G-d as a chance to recognize Him and His light within the experience. Your submission allows you to tap into Divine energy through your faculties of expression (i.e. thought, speech and action) and discover the power to transcend your natural boundaries or tendencies, to shine; this brings Moshiach! When the two portions are separate, view it as a suggestion that when we need it, Hashem provides us with the ‘extra time’ to contemplate things and strategize our Mishkan’s blueprint. Then for sure, when those preparation are complete, we can be joyful and live in the moment, attuned to the G-dliness expressed in the results of your efforts; and where there is joy, Hashem dwells…
In overview, the the two koichos we receive in this parsha are: 1.) from Hashem, and 2.) from Moshe Rabbeinu (in each generation) who gives us clear direction according to Hashem’s will. A Jewish leader of our generation is definitely a Moshe, a faithful shepherd of our people. The laws governing construction of the Mishkan and its trimmings are repeated, once from G-d to Moshe and again from Moshe to the people; interposing between the two is the episode of cheit ha’eigel – sin of the (golden) calf in Ki Sisa. An inspired high from G-d (like the initial isarusa deli’eila) can fade, leaving us susceptible to distraction and obstacles, negativity and hopelessness of a situation; we feel like no one is leading us, that we’re alone, and need to find a new ‘god’ – a guiding influence on which to rely. We need to cement the inspiration and live a life of joyful service; this is aided by our leader’s direction. The Torah doesn’t simply say, ‘And Moses told Bnei Yisroel’ about the Mishkan’s blueprint, but it’s thoroughly reviewed, verifying the leader of the generation’s direction, and that it gives us koach to fulfill ratzon Hashem, too! When the command again comes through Moshe Rabbeinu, and he reveals our shlichus to us, we are empowered to overcome the obstacles – our “eigel” – and focus on our given mission to build Hashem’s dirah in every aspect of our world. When you know Moshe Rabbeinu is with you, you can certainly succeed, because “tzivuy,” the command, equals “havtacho,” the promise that you will have the koach to do so. Now, nothing and no one can stop you; the forces of evil can’t bog you down! When you face negativity, you know you’re succeeding, because you brought a lot of light into the world and negativity is just doing it’s job to oppose it; however it won’t halt you, rather you will rise above it. Stay connected to your soul, your inner flame won’t be extinguished, and Hashem’s glorious light and truth will fill up your world!