Pekude (Exodus 38:21-40:38) Blessing Those Who Helped Shape Us

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            We come to the end of Exodus this week. The portion, Pekude, continues the details recitation of instructions for the Mishkan. The construction is completed, and Moses blesses the people who had done the work. “And when Moses saw that they had performed all the tasks—as God had commanded, so they had done—Moses blessed them” (Exodus 39:43) The people are blessed! A Talmudic attempt to place the words of the blessing stated that “May it be God’s will that the Divine Presence rest upon the work of your hands.”

            There is a message for us in this. In his book on the works of Mordecai Kaplan, Rabbi Steven Carr Reuben notes a comment in Talmud Pesachim in which the rabbis taught that we cannot in life rely on miracles. “we are no longer to rely on divine intervention to solve our challenges. Simply the action of bringing the sacred into our lives, our work, and the world itself is in our own hands.” (A Year with Mordecai Kaplan: Rabbi Steven Carr Reuben. P.88) This is very reflective of one of our favorite passages from Deuteronomy, 30:19, the famous “therefore choose life” passage. That too reminds us that what we decide to do in this life does determine who we are. We do not rely on some miraculous intervention, rather the “miracle” is often the result of hard work and dedication to a belief or cause or problem.

            The creation of the Mishkan in the wilderness or the Temple in Jerusalem, or the goal that you set for yourself or a change in the society in which we live—none of these were or can be brought to reality without hard work and dedication of individuals. Think back on our own life experiences. How many times was a goal reached by just prayer? How many times was that same goal reached by hard work and focused dedication, aided often by like-minded people and dedicated mentors and friends.  This is one of the great truths and messages of Judaism. Prayer without action/deeds will usually result in wasted effort. Prayer embraced by action, often achieves that desired goal.

            As Moses blessed the workers so we often then bless the people who have helped shape our own life journey: teachers, friends, parents, mentors…for we all are the result of those relationships, relationships that have helped build the mishkan that is each of us.

Chazak, chazak, v’nitchazek:

Shabbat shalom,

Rabbi Richard F Address

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