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A-CCOUNTING WE WILL GO!

by Rabbi Shmuel Weiss    
Torah from Dixie Staff Writer    

As the book of Exodus comes to a close, Parshat Pekudei sums up all the work of the Mishkan (Tabernacle). In this week’s Torah portion, Moses makes an accounting of all the materials used to construct the Mishkan and its many vessels.

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As the book of Exodus comes to a close, Parshat Pekudei sums up all the work of the Mishkan (Tabernacle). In this week’s Torah portion, Moses makes an accounting of all the materials used to construct the Mishkan and its many vessels.

The verse states, "This is the sum of the Mishkan, as it was counted, according to the command of Moses" (32:22). The Ohr Hachaim, a renowned 18th century Torah scholar, notes that it was Moses, not G-d, who ordered this inventory, to make it crystal-clear to the people that he had faithfully collected and utilized every single item that had been donated. Although Moses was not suspected of any wrongdoing, he wanted to demonstrate that each and every person—despite his stature or reputation—must be accountable to the community. To be humble is to feel that you are not "above" anyone else.

The verse describing the inventory says, "These are the counting of the Mishkan, the Mishkan of Testimony." Rashi, the preeminent Torah commentator, explains that this unusual double-use of the word "Mishkan" alludes to the two Temples that would later be built and destroyed. Rabbi Moshe Feinstein, a foremost leader of American Jewry who passed away in 1986, observes that it was the lack of consideration by one Jew for another which resulted in the Temple’s destruction. But if we all had the same attitude as Moses—sensitive to others’ feelings and willing to sublimate our own egos—then we would discover the way to rebuild the Mishkan.

The need to take inventory is not restricted to Moses, or to material objects. Our sages tell us that each and every one of us must also take stock of our time, asking ourselves: Do we make good use of the hours and days granted to us in this world? Do we cherish time and its manifold opportunities, or are we just hanging around and "killing" time?

Like Abraham—who "came with his days," presenting G-d with a calendar of his life, indicating all the positive things he had accomplished—we, too, should be able to give a reckoning for each precious day of our lives.

We should pause to take stock each day of all the wonderful things which G-d gives us. Rather than rush first thing each morning to check our stocks and our business ledgers, we should rather stop and reflect on the true assets in our portfolios: Our family, our security, our health, and our good fortune at living in a comfortable world that is filled with innumerable luxuries.

G-d may be the Cosmic Personalized Accountant, but we should also "examine the books" every day.

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Rabbi Shmuel Weiss, a close friend of the Torah from Dixie family, is the director of the Jewish Outreach Center in Rana’ana, Israel. He is also the author of Shammes: Stories of the Jewish Experience, published by Targum Press.

You are invited to read more Parshat Vayakhel & Pekudei articles.

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