Imagine that you are applying for a promotion at work and your dear friend gets that promotion instead of you even though you’ve worked really hard. Do you support that friend, or do you become resentful, and secretly a little jealous?
In this week’s Parsha, Bimidbar, after a lengthy census, the tribes of Bnei Yisrael were each given a different job helping with the Mishkan building, traveling, and protecting. But, the Levites were given special attention and they were assigned jobs that the other tribes were told explicitly not to do because that was not under their jurisdiction.
In Perek Aleph, it states some of the jobs of the Levites,
נ. וְאַתָּה הַפְקֵד אֶת הַלְוִיִּם עַל מִשְׁכַּן הָעֵדֻת וְעַל כָּל כֵּלָיו וְעַל כָּל אֲשֶׁר לוֹ הֵמָּה יִשְׂאוּ אֶת הַמִּשְׁכָּן וְאֶת כָּל כֵּלָיו וְהֵם יְשָׁרְתֻהוּ וְסָבִיב לַמִּשְׁכָּן יַחֲנוּ:נא. וּבִנְסֹעַ הַמִּשְׁכָּן יוֹרִידוּ אֹתוֹ הַלְוִיִּם וּבַחֲנֹת הַמִּשְׁכָּן יָקִימוּ אֹתוֹ הַלְוִיִּם וְהַזָּר הַקָּרֵב יוּמָת:
50. But you shall appoint the Levites over the Tabernacle of the Testimony, over all its vessels and over all that belong to it; they shall carry the Tabernacle and they shall minister to it, and they shall encamp around the Tabernacle
51. When the Tabernacle is set to travel, the Levites shall dismantle it; and when the Tabernacle camps, the Levites shall erect it; any outsider [non Levite] who approaches shall be put to death.
I think it’s impressive that the other tribes weren’t jealous of the Levites (or at least Continue reading
In this week’s Torah portion, we move from the exciting and relatable narrative in the books of Bereshit (Genesis) and Shmot (Exodus), into the legalistic and methodical book of Vayikra (Leviticus).
In the first Torah portion, God tells Moses how the Children of Israel should go about establishing a holy community, a “kingdom of priests.” In doing so, it offends the modern sensibilities of many of us, explaining in vivid detail how the newly freed Jewish people should serve God through animal sacrifices:
“And Aaron’s sons, the priests, shall offer the blood, dashing the blood against all sides of the altar.” Gross.
“The burnt offering shall be flayed and cut up into sections.” Ugh.
“The priest shall bring it to the altar, pinch off its head, and turn it into smoke on the altar; and its blood shall be drained out against the side of the altar.” I can’t even. Stop.
Lucky for me (and my wishy-washy vegetarian ideals), the Jewish practice of animal sacrifice stopped at the destruction of the Second Temple (70 CE). So if animal sacrifices are no longer a part of religious devotion, what relevancy does this Torah portion have for us today? Continue reading
Daniel Shibley (Year '11, Fellows '12) blogs honestly and openly about his thoughts on being drafted into the Israeli Defense Forces after making Aliyah:
Building of the Mishkan takes center stage in the parasha this week. Moshe asks the Israelites to give to the construction project, to sacrifice some of their personal property for a common goal. He does not place specific demands upon the Israelites, instead asking that they give as they are so inclined. Obviously there are both strengths and weaknesses to this fundraising strategy. What would have Moshe have done if there was insufficient materials? Fundraisers the world over no doubt cope with this reality on a daily basis, which is why we often hear speeches in American synagogues on Yom Kippur and Rosh Hashanah asking us to turn down tabs on an index card to indicate the exact amount of our pledge or Israel Bonds purchase. Continue reading
This week, Rabbi David Levin-Kruss discusses Parashat Vayakhel-Pekudei in “Leadership.”
Our double Parsha – Vayakhel-Pekudei is focused on building the Mishkan or Tabernacle. And as we know, God calls on Betzelel to build it. There are two contradicting Midrashim around Betzelel and the order in which he builds the Tabernacle (Mishkan משכן), the Ark (Aron ארון), and the vessels (כלים the keilim).
In Shemot Rabba – It quotes a verse from Mishlei – Proverbs that says, “Give to a wise man, and he will be yet wiser.” And one of the thoughts is that it is referring to Betzelel. When God told Moses to make the Tabernacle, he came to Betzelel and told him of this command. Betzelel asked, “What is the point of the Mishkan?” And Moses said, “In order that the Holy One, blessed be He, may make His Shechinah and dwell therein and teach the Torah to Israel.” Continue reading
Here is the text of today's Creative Davening at Pardes:
In this week’s parsha, we build and furnish the Mishkan and attire the kohanim. When the work is complete, the Holy Presence comes to dwell among the people. Today, in our Shacharit of Healing, we build our own Mishkan of hope and invite the Presence to be with us as we journey towards health, wholeness, and peace. At the conclusion of Sefer Shmot this week, we say, “Chazak, chazak, v’nitchazek”. How fitting to wish each other strength when we pray for healing!
Shacharit of Healing, Parashat Vayakel-Pekudei
Creative Davening at Pardes, Feb. 6
Va’ani Tamid Imach
(I am always with You.)
Though my heart is troubled and I’m filled with dread
I turn to face Your Mystery
Though I’ve been lost inside my head
I open to Eternity. (R. Shefa Gold)
Kavanah: Setting Healing Intention
We come together this morning to ask for healing, healing within ourselves, or healing for another person, or healing for our community or world.
Ki Tissa ’73