P(r)aying our price…

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Pekudei ~ Exodus 38: 21 – 40: 38 

The weekly Torah portion (Hebrew: פָּרָשַׁת הַשָּׁבוּעַ Parashat ha-Shavua‎, popularly just parasha) is a section of the Torah read publicly and aloud in weekly Jewish prayer services, usually in full during the Shabbat (Saturday, the Jewish Sabbath). There are 54 such parashiyot in Judaism, and the full cycle is read over the course of a Jewish year. Each week, the ECI Young Adults are providing us with a commentary on the week’s parasha. 

The Parashat of this week is about the preparations and construction of the Holy Tabernacle, as described in the book of Exodus. The original 8 sections are explained in this interpretative summary split in 4 parts. Both as persons and nations we can learn much from G-d’s careful instructions and detailed commands. Many questions and lessons we can take up in our prayers from the very detailed involvement of the LORD!

Materials of the tabernacle

Just imagine for a minute how much money it would cost today in order to build the Tabernacle. Here is a short summary of the precious materials involved. Gold: 29 talents and 730 shekels, silver: 100 talents and 75 shekels and bronze: 70 talents and 2400 shekels. Consider that 1 talent approximately weighs between 26-59 kilograms; depending on which historical standard you are using. Hence, this would at least cover 754 Kg of gold, 2600 Kg of silver and 1820 Kg of bronze. The book of Exodus tells us that 603,550 men from the age of 20 years old brought all these materials together. Considering only the current prices of gold and silver today, this would cost an astonishing value of approximately €62,596,935 (gold) and €2,637,300 (silver); roughly €108 per person, regardless of inflation… they were paying a price!

Making the Garments of the Priesthood, the Ephod, Breastplate and Other Priestly Garments

Exodus pictures us the use of blue, purple and scarlet thread for making the holy garments, as well as fine woven line to make the ephod for Aaron; the first High Priest. Exodus illustrates to us fine workmanship. Equally careful with an eye for detail, they carried out His instructions for the Breastplate with precious stones: Sardis, Topaz, Emerald, Turquoise, Sapphire, Diamond, Jacinth, Agate, Amethyst, Beryl, Onyx and Jasper; 12 precious stones resembling the precious 12 Tribes of Israel. Stones you’ve never ever heard of!

The Other Priestly Garments not only concerned the robe of the ephod. “They made tunics, artistically woven of fine linen, for Aaron and his sons, a turban of fine linen, exquisite hats of fine linen, short trousers of fine woven linen and a sash of fine woven linen with blue, purple, and scarlet thread, made by a weaver, as the LORD had commanded Moses. Then they made the plate of the holy crown of pure gold, and wrote on it an inscription like the engraving of a signet: HOLINESS TO THE LORD. And they tied to it a blue cord, to fasten it above on the turban, as the LORD had commanded Moses.” Having eye for details?

The Work Completed

Finishing the work “the children of Israel did according to all that the LORD had commanded Moses; so they did.” After another long list of the highest level of careful details, Exodus informs us that “the children of Israel did all the work (…) according to all that the LORD had commanded Moses (…) Then Moses looked over all the work, and indeed they had done it; as the LORD had commanded, just so they had done it. And Moses blessed them.” Are we doing all that the LORD commands us? Are we doing all of our work He instructs us? Are we receiving His blessings? Let us take an example from their ultimate dedication here.

The Tabernacle Erected and Arranged & The Cloud and the Glory

From carefully instructing construction of all the materials, G-d then moves over into dictating actions…

“And it came to pass in the first month of the second year, on the first day of the month, that the tabernacle was raised up.” After another detailed description of very exact and utmost specific actions, we read that “the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. And Moses was not able to enter the tabernacle of meeting, because the cloud rested above it, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle.” From there on, the children of Israel were ‘navigated’ by the cloud in order to guide them their future direction. “For the cloud of the LORD was above the tabernacle by day, and fire was over it by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel, throughout all their journeys.” Thus ends the book of Exodus: Israel (still) is on a journey!

Taking lessons from the Tabernacle by taking its questions up in our prayers

Are we paying our price? With precious materials (stones) you’ve never ever heard of? Do we have an eye for details? Are we doing all that the LORD commands us? Are we doing all of our work He instructs us? Are we receiving His blessings? Perhaps it’s time to obey His will and command to love Israel as He does. Considering the price they paid, His eye for detail and care for His children: their obedience empowers us! It is fascinating to consider that the LORD our God is both omnipresent in the universe, as well as involved with the most specific details in our everyday lives! So let’s pray both in our personal relationships with G-d as well as collectively with groups for our nations and (the people) of Israel! A special point of attention: opportunities to ‘pay our price’ in obedient contribution to Israel, the destination of the Exodus. 

(The European Coalition for Israel is a unique grassroots movement, which is seeking to promote better relations between Europe and Israel through advocacy and education. 

More information: http://www.ec4i.org)