Sedra Shorts

Ideas and commentaries on the weekly Torah readings.

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Location: Bet Shemesh, Israel

I taught Tanach in Immanuel College, London and in Hartman, Jerusalem. I was also an ATID fellow for 2 years. At present, I work for the Lookstein Center for Jewish Education in the Diaspora, in Bar-Ilan University, Israel. The purpose of this blog is to provide "sedra-shorts", short interesting ideas on the weekly Torah reading. Please feel free to use them and to send me your comments.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Parshat Pekudei

The Cost of the Mishkan

"All the gold that had been used for the work in all the work of the Holy the gold of the waving was twenty nine talents, seven hundred and thirty shekels, according to the holy shekel" (Shemot 38:24).

In one of favorite all time comments, Chief Rabbi Hertz estimates that the Mishkan cost £170,000 – today one would have trouble finding accommodation in any western capital with that sum.

The Sephorno points out the beauty of the Mishkan was diminished in relation to the First Temple, which was even further diminished by Herod's Temple.

Indeed, we know that chef wood used to make the Mishkan was acacia wood, while Solomon's Temple was crafted with Lebanon's finest cedar wood. Those who have visited the Negev desert, will note that the acacia tree is not an exceptionally fine tree. Nevertheless, that is what ancient Israel had available, so that as what they used.

Nonetheless, what the Mishkan lacked in wealth in splendor, it had spirituality and God's presence in abundance.

"For the cloud of the Lord was upon the Mishkan by day, and there was fire within it at night" (ibid 40:38). God's presence never left the Mishkan; His glory filled the Mishkan throughout.

This is in contradistinction to Solomon's Temple that fell into disrepair in Hezekiah's day and needed to be repaired and Herod's Temple that lacked the Aron HaKodesh (Holy Ark) and other important vessels.

Furthermore, while the Temples were both destroyed, the Mishkan never was.

What was it that made the Mishkan unique?

The answer lies in this week's parsha:

"These are the numbers of the Mishkan, the Mishkan of the Testimony, which were counted at Moses' command (ibid 38:21)

"they made … the Lord had commanded Moshe" (ibid 39:1 + a further 9 times).

"Now they brought the Mishkan to Moshe…Moses saw the entire work, and lo! they had done it-as the Lord had commanded, so had they done. So Moses blessed them" (ibid 33-43).

There was complete transparency in everything that Moshe did. All the gold, silver, metals and other items were accounted for. All the work was inspected and checked to see that it was done correctly and lo and behold, everything was done to the letter according to the word of God.
Moshe did not hide any of riches that were collected nor did he feel that he did not need to account to the people for all the resources they spent.

Moshe understood that he was dealing with public money. Therefore, he had a duty to ensure that all of it was used correctly, and that the workers had abused their position. He therefore, made an inventory of every item used.
Moshe understood that the Mishkan was not for his aggrandizement for his glory. Moshe recognized that the Mishkan wa for the glory of God. Abusing the glory it

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Blogger smoo said...

In your post you write, "Furthermore, while the Temples were both destroyed, the Mishkan never was."

In Who Wrote The Bible (pp. 183-187), Richard Elliott Friedman brings various proofs showing that the tabernacle/mishkan was housed in the first temple (Psalm 26:8, 27:4-5, 61:5 *1kings 8:4 & *2Chronicles 5:5, 1Chron 9:23 and others). Psalm 74:7 mourns the first temples destruction and references the tabernacle burned 'to the ground'. Lamentations 2:6-7 also refers to destruction of the tabernacle at that time. REF shows how the tabernacle was indeed destroyed with the first temple. If it was housed there, it perished there. The above sources lament that fact.

10:25 PM  

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