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Parashat Vayakhel-Pekudei - 5775

My friends,

This Shabbat we read a double portion, Vayakhel and Pekudei. These portions are read separately when we have a Jewish leap year to accommodate the extra four Saturdays. Since this year is a regular year, there will be a few more double portions.

Vayakhel explains how Moses 'gathered' all the people and informed them of the project at hand; namely, the construction of the Tabernacle. He asks for offerings from anyone whose heart so desires to contribute to this project. In Vayakhel, Moses goes over again all the items that will be made. The people were very generous and contributed all kinds of materials - so much so that Moses had to ask people to stop giving as they had enough and more than needed for the project.

Pekudei describes how the people made all the items and, again, describing the details of each item. Pekudei concludes the Book of Exodus, describing how the Tabernacle was erected and how, once the items were placed in the assigned places, the people could see that their work was accepted by G-d. The last verses in the Book of Exodus read:

"When Moses had finished the work, the cloud covered the Tent of Meeting, and the Presence of the L-rd filled the Tabernacle." (Exodus 40:33-34)

This was a clear sign that G-d was pleased with their work and was now dwelling among them.

This happened exactly one year after the Children of Israel had left Egypt. What a journey we find in the Book of Exodus! From a small family numbering seventy souls, who had come down to Egypt to escape the famine in Canaan, to a people that multiplied many folds. A child is born during difficult times of oppression and enslavement. He accepts G-d's mission and returns to Egypt to stand up to Pharaoh and demands, "Let my people go". The miracles, the Crossing of the Sea, the war with Amalek, the Manna (food from heaven), water from a rock, the Giving of the Torah, the Golden Calf, and the construction of a sanctuary in the middle of the wilderness. The Book of Exodus ends with the people unified and looking to the Tabernacle as the sign that G-d indeed dwells among them and in their hearts.

"Hazak, Hazak Venithazek" - "Be strong! Be strong and let us strengthen one another." In other words, Yishar Koach, or Congratulations, for completing the Book of Exodus. May we all be united and strengthen one another.

Shabbat Shalom,