Parasha Pekude completes the Book of Exodus for us this Shabbat. We read of the completion of the Mishkan. Moses blesses the completion of the task (39:43) and we end with the dramatic scene of God’s presence symbolized by a cloud in day and fire at night (43:37,38) There is a sense from the reading that the creation of the Mishkan was completed. Some commentaries draw a parallel between this creation and that of Genesis 1 and the world’s creation. As I was looking at this section, for some reason the thought came to me about the sense of being completed and are we, as images of God, as human beings, ever “completed”? Or is there always something new to see, some new passion to explore, some new encounter to be cherished?
In 39:43, the text reads “When Moses saw that they had performed all the tasks–as God had commanded, so they had done–Moses blessed them”. The Hebrew says v’hinei asoo otah, (They did it) The Israelites did what had been asked of them, by God, and they were blessed. We, as well, have been given the challenge of doing tasks, deeds, mitzvot. For that we are blessed and, in doing so, are the conduit for further blessings. We are told and taught that the doing of these mitzvot never end. They form the embrace of tradition and help give texture to life. There is even, in our prayer book, a prayer ( the Elu D’varim) list the minimum requirements, so to speak, for each of us. I think that this is a way of tradition telling us that the task of creation is never completed. We may complete a task, perform a sacred deed, but, the challenge is that the repair of the world is an on-going challenge, a task that may never be fully “completed”
So too with each of us. One of the gifts of the revolution in longevity is that we are given, we hope, the gift of time and with that gift, the opportunity to continue to grow and evolve as people. The excitement of the “new” or the undiscovered is always open to us. The number of our years is secondary to the opportunities we have to number new experiences. We are alive and, as such, each day given the opportunity to experience a new moment in time, a new relationship, a new moment that brings a sense of fulfillment. Al of these moments add up to our life. in that spirit of on-going life and love and openness, we end Exodus with the traditional phrase of chazak, chazak, v’nitchazek: may we, each of us, continue to be strong and greet each new day with courage and strength.
Rabbi Richard F Address
Rabbi Richard F. Address, D.Min, is the Founder and Director of www.jewishsacredaging.com. Rabbi Address served for over three decades on staff of the Union for Reform Judaism; first as a Regional Director and then, beginning in 1997, as Founder and Director of the URJ’s Department of Jewish Family Concerns and served as a specialist and consultant for the North American Reform Movement in the areas of family related programming. Rabbi Address was ordained from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in 1972 and began his rabbinic career in Los Angeles congregations. He also served as a part time rabbi for Beth Hillel in Carmel, NJ while regional director and, after his URJ tenure, served as senior rabbi of Congregation M’kor Shalom in Cherry Hill, NJ from 2011-2014.