Parashat P’kudei – The Forces of “I” and “He”

Ark of the CovenantParashat P’kudei, which ends Chumash Sh’mot, describes the last part of the building of the Mishkan, God’s residence. Anyone who reads the verses of the Parsha, knows that it is already brought in the Torah, almost completely, in the Parshas leading into the sin of the Golden Calf. It is clear that there is one string running through the last five Parshas of the Chumash: In Trumah and Teztaveh, the nation of Israel is given the building plan of the Mishkan; Ki Tisa has Israel sinning with the Golden Calf; And in Vayakhel and Pekudei, the verses of the Mishkan appear once again, only in another form.

Those who pay attention, will notice there is a clear difference between the two commandments to build the Mishkan. The first one, before the nation sinned, mentions many times the words “Before God.” Different are the words after the sin, as this time the Torah emphasizes “As the Lord commanded Moses.”

Golden Cow Head on WallThe reasoning for the aforementioned change is obvious. The Kuzari teaches us that the root of the Golden Calf sin, was Israel’s will to close the great gap between them and God. In Mount Sinai there was a tremendous meeting between the eternal and the human, one which Israel wanted to keep forever. The people of Israel were the “I” standing before the divine “He”, whom they wanted to transform into an “I”, in order to bring to a closure the everlasting gap between man from God. In response to this, God reinforces the distance and the separation from man. The Mishkan after the sin is not “Before God” anymore, but rather comes down through the filter of a commandment to Moses. The relation is not direct, thus helping to keep the distance of the “I” from the “He.”

The Forces of “I” and “He”

Such a model, of “I” and “He”, is a base for any human relationship system. These two forces teach us very important rules about our everyday actions. On the one hand, we must not try and turn the “He”, the other, to an “I”; At the same time, however, we must not stick to ourselves alone, but rather meet, just as God met with us.

The confrontation which has a gap, keeps on with Israel, from after the sin through our times and ages. Since the destruction of the Temple, God has only got four Amot of Halakha. Through the commandments, the obligations, one can meet with the Divine.

Yet it seems that this isn’t enough. We are no longer in the private zone, in the four Amot of the exile – we have returned to the public zone of the Torah, to the Land of Israel. Here it is necessary for the meeting to extend beyond the simple commandment.

At the end of the Parsha, we learn that the Cloud of God sits above the Mishkan during the day, and at night “A fire dwells in it.” We are taught, that in the heart of the cloud, from inside the cloud hiding the “He” lays a fire, a great one. In the generation after the exile, we must return to the fire, start and pave deep and further roads towards the “He.” Not to wipe out the commandments and the obligations, but to understand that the meeting is much wider than a set of rules. To understand that that we meet not only through the four Amot of the private zone; that in the heart of this meeting burns a fire, just awaiting to be lit as a flame rising by itself.

Rav Aviad SandersRav Aviad is currently a Ram for second year students at Yeshivat Orot Shaul, a member of the Beit Hillel Conceptual Beit Midrash and a member of the trustees of Ne’emani Torah V’Avodah. Previously, was on shlichut as the Rosh Beit Midrash at Yeshivat Akiva in Southfield, MI. He received his BE.D from Herzog Teacher’s College and attended the Machon Straus Amiel Rabbinic Training Program. He received his Smicha from Rav Zalman Nechemia Goldberg. For the last three years Rav Sanders has been Rosh Kolel at Camp Moshava Wild Rose. Rav Aviad learned eight years at Yeshiva HaKotel in Yerushalayim, three of which he worked as the afternoon seder coordinator for overseas students as well as a Ram in the Gemara Bekiut program.


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