Torah Commentary

Torah Commentary

Parshat P'kudei – A Blueprint for Our Vision of Liberation

The Mishkan, God's dwelling place in the wilderness, is at the center of Israel's liberative process. In Parshat P'kudei, the Israelites finished construction of the Mishkan. As the book of Exodus closes, we read, "Thus was finished all the work of the Mishkan of the Tent of Meeting; and the children of Israel did according to all that the Adonai commanded Moses, so they did." (Exodus 39:32) And again, 10 verses later: "Just as Adonai had commanded Moses, so the Israelites had done all the work." (Ex.39:42)

Transitioning from the Book of Exodus to the Rest of the Torah

This week’s Torah portion, P’kudei, concludes the Book of Exodus. Its two and a half chapters summarize the previous instructions about building the Tabernacle and bring its construction to completion. While most of the parashah is a bit dry, the last few verses don’t disappoint: the defining book of the Torah ends on a grand note. 

Wholeness Is Found in the Little Details

This week's Torah portion, Parashat P'kudei, brings the Book of Exodus to a close. The Israelites — who by this point in our story have been freed from Egyptian slavery, stood at Mt. Sinai to receive the Ten Commandments and the Torah, and in this week's parashah,  completed the construction of the Tabernacle — are finally ready for their long years of wandering that will take up the rest of the Torah's narrative.

If your only exposure to the Book of Exodus was through children's Bible stories, Hollywood, or even the Jewish calendar, you might easily overlook the part of the story about the Tabernacle. Big stories like the liberation from Egypt, the giving of the Ten Commandments, the building of the Golden Calf, and God's appearance at the Burning Bush are almost always portrayed as the major events of the Book of Exodus. The building of the Tabernacle — the portable sanctuary that will serve as God's dwelling-place among the Israelite camp during their wanderings — barely even registers. But when Moses finally completes the Tabernacle in this week's Torah portion, it is after five weekly Torah portions, fifteen chapters, and almost half the Book of Exodus that are mostly devoted to the detailed and often repetitive description of the Tabernacle.

What the Records Reveal

In Parashat P'kudei, the last section of the Book of Exodus, there is a rather tedious repetition of the inventory of all the equipment used in the building and decorating of the Tabernacle, the place of worship for the Israelites during their sojourn in the wilderness after they left Eg