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Pekudei - Conclusion of the book of Redemption (Melakhim I 7:51-8-21)

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  1. a. Temporary Mishkan vs. Permanent Temple

We have already witnessed, in our studies of previous haftarot, the trend by Chazal (our Sages) of drawing a parallel between the establishment of the Temple and the establishment of the mishkan (tabernacle). Our haftora is a continuation of this trend, but here we already reach the stage of completion of the work and an inauguration.


In the parasha: "And all the work of the mishkan, of the Ohel Mo'ed [Communion Tent], was finished." (39:32)

In the haftora: "And all the work was completed...for the house of God." (7:51)


Several differences arise between these corresponding verses:


Firstly, there is a difference between "finished" (va-tekhel) and "completed" (va-tishlam). Both undoubtedly convey the same meaning, but nevertheless the word "va-tekhel" reminds us of the word "kilyon" - both in the sense of "kilyon nefesh" (impatience), for the establishment of the mishkan and finally having God dwell in their midst is their goal - but also in the sense of physical "kilyon" (destruction), for the mishkan is a mobile tent and is not meant to serve as a permanent Temple. In contrast, the word "va-tishlam" conveys a connotation of completion (shlemut) and peace (shalom), especially since it involves King SHLOMO, as we shall see below.


Thus we see the difference between the "mishkan - Ohel Mo'ed" and "the house of God": it is the difference between transience and permanence.


There is also a difference between "avoda" ("all the avoda of the mishkan, of the Ohel Mo'ed") and "melakha" ("and all the melakha was completed"). This may be the hint that gives rise to the following lesson by Chazal:


"And all the melakha was completed" - it does not say "the melakha" but rather "all the melakha" - the melakha [work] of the six days of Creation. "From all His work that the Lord had created to do" (Bereishit 2:3) - it does not say "did" but rather "to do" - i.e., there is still work to do. When Shlomo came along and built the Temple, the Holy One said, "Now the melakha of the heavens and the earth is complete" - "and all the melakha was completed". Therefore he was called Shlomo, for God completed the work of the six days of Creation through the work of his hands..." (Pesikta Rabbati 6)


Creation was now complete.


  1. b. Pure silver vs. silver that is not pure

We may compare the beginning of the haftora with the beginning of the parasha, which begins: "These are the accounts of the mishkan...all the gold...and the silver of those counted of the congregation...and the brass of the offering..."  The parasha begins with a detailed accounting of all the materials contributed by the Bnei Yisrael, and an explanation of what they were used for, whether in the vessels or for the Ohel or for the priestly garments. The haftora begins: "And Shlomo brought the holy objects of David his father, the silver and the gold and the vessels he put in the treasuries of the house of God." That is, he put them in the treasuries, but did not take a single vessel from them. (Although a literal interpretation, as given by Rashi, would suggest that he took from the vessels dedicated by David his father, and put what was left over into the treasuries.) This is explained in a pesikta quoted by Rashi: "A midrash agadda teaches that Shlomo did not want to give anything from that dedicated store for the construction of the Temple." Two reasons are given for this, the second of which is that "Shlomo reasoned that there had been a famine in the days of his father for three whole years, and David should have used some of this store to feed the poor of Israel." 


But the Abarbanel understands the reason thus: "...for just as [God] did not wish David to build the Temple in his time because he had shed much blood, so He could not agree that it should be built with money collected in the wars from the bounty of the enemy nations. Shlomo, who was a man of peace and who gathered what money he did by peace and uprightness, would be the one to build the Temple from that money and not from anything else, for "God will give strength to His nation; God will bless His nation with peace"  (Tehillim 29:11).


  1. c. Authority of Moshe vs. authority of Shlomo

In Ashkenazi congregations this haftora is read even when the parashot of Vayakhel and Pekudei are joined together. A hint at the parasha of Vayakhel is to be found in the second and third verses of the haftora: "Then Shlomo assembled [yakhel]...and [they] assembled [va-yikahalu] to King Shlomo..." An interesting discrepancy arises between these two verses. Shlomo gathers "the elders of Israel, all the heads of the tribes, the chiefs of the fathers" (8:1) - he wishes to gather the LEADERSHIP.  But when the rumor is heard that the Ark of God's covenant is to be brought up, "all the men of Israel assembled to King Shlomo" (8:2).


Moshe gathers the whole congregation of Bnei Yisrael prior to the establishment of the mishkan, for they are required to contribute - some in labor and others in materials. Shlomo gathers them after the work is already complete, in order to put the Ark inside the Temple. In order to build, Moshe needs the entire congregation, but he does not need them in order to put the Ark inside - the placement that demonstrates that the mishkan is indeed the 'sanctuary of the testimony.' This Moshe does alone: "And Moshe erected the mishkan...and brought the Ark into the mishkan..." (40:17-21). Shlomo, on the other hand, has the power to command the construction, but in order to bring up the Ark and to put it in its proper place - a spiritual action - he needs the elders of Israel.


  1. d. Nisan vs. Tishrei

The mishkan is inaugurated in the month of Nisan: "And it was in the first month of the second year, on the first of the month, that the mishkan was erected" (40:17). It was a year since God had spoken to Moshe and Aharon in Egypt, commanding them of the first mitzvah to them as a nation. The Temple, on the other hand, is inaugurated in Tishrei, "in the month of Etanim, on the festival - that is the seventh month" (8:2).


It is appropriate for the mishkan in the desert to be inaugurated in the month when the nation left Egypt, a month marking the beginning of the miraculous year. And it is appropriate that the Temple is inaugurated in Tishrei, the month of the Creation, the beginning of the natural year. For the Temple is the climax of the aspirations of a nation dwelling in its own land, living a natural and normal life as a holy nation.


  1. e. The Ark connects the mishkan and the Temple

The Ark stands at the center of the description in the haftora, as though the entire Temple is established only in order to serve as a resting place for the Ark. Indeed, the conclusion of the haftora teaches: ""And I have built a house for the name of God, the Lord of Israel. And I have set there a place for the Ark, in which is God's covenant..."


The Ark is what connects the Temple on Mount Moriah and the mishkan in the desert - or even Mount Sinai, for "there was nothing in the Ark but the two tablets of stone that Moshe placed there at Chorev, that God had made as a pact with Bnei Yisrael" (8:9).


  1. f. The cloud in the mishkan and in the Temple

The cloud that filled the Temple expressed the glory of God. This we learn from both the parasha and the haftora. 


In the parasha: "And the cloud covered the Ohel Mo'ed and the glory of God filled the mishkan." (40:34)

In the haftora: "And the cloud filled the house of God... for the glory of God filled the house of God." (8:10-11)


Just as in the parasha "Moshe could not come into the Ohel Mo'ed because the cloud rested upon it" (40:35), so in the haftora "the priests could not stand and serve because of the cloud" (8:11). This is because "God said that He would dwell in the thick darkness" (8:12).


But there is a great difference between the parasha and the haftora. The parasha emphasizes transience - immediately following the verses that describe the cloud, we read "and when the cloud lifted from upon the mishkan, Bnei Yisrael would travel on all their journeys" (40:36). The presence of the Shekhina (Divine Presence) in this mishkan was temporary, and at any time the people would move and then erect the mishkan somewhere else. The Temple, on the other hand, was meant to be a permanent structure: "A place for Your dwelling forever" (8:13).


  1. g. Conclusion of the Book of Exile and Redemption

The Ramban, in his introduction to the book of Shemot, writes: "After the creation was complete, another book started...and the book of "These are the names" [Shemot], discussing the first exile...and the redemption from it, is set apart, for their exile is not over until the day they return to their place and come back to the level of their forefathers... When they came to Mount Sinai and made the mishkan, and the Holy One once again rested His presence among them, then they had returned to the level of their forefathers... And then they were considered redeemed, and therefore this book ends with the completion of the mishkan and with the glory of God filling it constantly."


But in truth that is not how the book of Shemot ends. It ends, rather, with two verses that describe the journeys of Bnei Yisrael, with the following words: "For the cloud of God was upon the mishkan by day and a fire was upon it in the night, visible to all of Israel throughout all their journeys." We part from this book with Bnei Yisrael still in the midst of their journeying towards the promised land and towards the complete redemption.


When is the redemption complete?  When the event described in the haftora takes place - the Temple on Mount Moriah in Jerusalem is established and inaugurated.  Then the nation's redemption is complete, and the book and the story of the exile and the redemption finally reach their conclusion.

 Translated by Kaeren Fish


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