Torah Portion: Vayak’hel (He Assembled) P’kudei (Accounts) Exodus 35-40
HafTorah: I Kings 7:13-26; 7:40-8:21
Tonight we read the last two Torah portions of Shemot. They cover the setting up of the Mishkan (Tabernacle) and the accounting of the materials used in its construction. It is interesting in that just a few chapters back we covered the materials used and the gathering of those items. In our earlier reading the words are, “And you shall make,” was used in each item to become part of the Mishkan, while here in our present Torah portion the wording is changed to, “And he made.” If we take a moment I think by this change we are told of more than just the passage of time, but we are told of completion of a task set out by G-d for His people. We see follow through. I think this is really important for each of us to contemplate. G-d has a task for each of us in this world. What ever that task is, our job or mission is to carry it out to completion. It is easy to become tired or discouraged along the way. That is when we refresh ourselves by going back and recalling the original call of G-d and be encouraged to carry it through. This also applies to a group as well as an individual. Road to Zion has as one of its major tasks the reclamation of our roots to our faith, to get back to what we see as essential in being who we are as a people – grafted into the House of Israel. For 2,000 years we have drifted away. Now it is time to return. So here Torah shows us the beginning and the end of this mission to build the Mishkan. May it be with us in our day.
The proof, here in these verses, that the people completed their task, was that the Spirit of G-d came into the Mishkan and filled the place. Shemot (Exodus) 40:33-38. In II Chronicles (D’var HaYamim) 7:1-3 we read of Shlomo erecting the First Temple in Jerusalem. Here we see the same thing happened. In I Kings 8:9-13 we see where the priests could not stand because of the glory of the L-rd that filled the house. In both cases we read where the presence of G-d came into the structure and filled the space. In each of these cases, here in our Torah portion and then when Shlomo finished the Beit HaMikdash (temple) the people were fully involved in the putting together of the structure that would be used to worship G-d.
Now we come to the Second Beit HaMikdash that was built when the people returned from Babylon. In Ezra 6:15-22 and 3:10-13 we read of the raising of the building. However, we see something missing. We see some people weeping amid the shouts of joy. The elders are weeping. They sense something is amiss. There is no cloud filling the building. Why is this? I think we can find the answer in the fact that many of the Jews did not return to Jerusalem when given the chance by Cyrus. They chose to stay in Babylon rather than come back home. There was a lack of unity among the people. This was evidenced in the fact that the Spirit or Presence of G-d did not fill the building. When the people are not unified it affects them and their mission. Their purpose in G-d’s plan is weakened. For each of us and our work here in this world, unity of Spirit is very important. This does not mean there are never disagreements or discussions among G-d’s people. But it does mean that those disagreements can not rise to the point of dividing us in our purpose to reach out to a world that needs to hear about G-d. If it does, we become clashing cymbals- just a lot of noise and little affect in our life. Here in our portion G-d’s people were together in a task and G-d’s presence appeared. Everyone was involved. So may it be with each of us.
One last point, in Exodus 35:1-3 we read where G-d gives three verses devoted to the Sabbath before going into the building of the Mishkan. Why does this order appear? I think it is to show us that nothing is more important than having time uninterrupted with the Father. Even the building of the Mishkan should not take first place. Don’t get wrapped up in doing, even doing good things, to the point we have no time for us and the Father. Even Yeshua needed time with His Father.