Vayak’hel-P’kudei: Is Creation Ever Really Finished?

The Western Wall, Jerusalem/Steve Lubetkin Photo. Used by permission.
The Western Wall, Jerusalem/Steve Lubetkin Photo. Used by permission.

This double portion completes the Book of Exodus. We see here the completion of the Tabernacle. The finished product is blessed by Moses in Exodus 40 and this act is paralleled in the Haftorah reading with the completion of the Temple in Jerusalem by Solomon and his subsequent blessing.(I Kings 8:14,15) This parallel of the Wilderness Tabernacle and the Solomonic Temple echoes another parallel scene. Vivian B. Skolnick, in her book “The Biblical Path to Psychological Maturity” draws an interesting link between Creation and the Tabernacle. She sees a psychological connection between these two events in that in Genesis there was a creation of order, boundaries of time and space (Genesis 1). Likewise, the creation of the Tabernacle, she notes, gives us an opportunity to repeat these steps. “The maturation process allows people to develop discreet boundaries, to manage time, to know how to work, to collaborate and to manage their infantile greed by being able to follow God’s command to be satisfied when enough is enough. This understanding underlies the connection between God’s design of creation in the opening chapter of Genesis, and this closing chapter of Exodus.” Skolnick sees in this linkage a growth from slave mentality to a more mature identity.
The Plaut Commentary of Torah seems to echo some of the symbolic growth. “The erection of the shrine was the symbolic conclusion of the Exodus tale. The latter had begun with the “absent” God during the years of enslavement and now ends with the “present” God who will lead His people to the Promised Land.” Of course, this tale of transition and growth does not end with this portion. And the Israelites, as we see in the subsequent books of Torah, often return to some of that “infantile” behavior. Creation and growth does not end with the close of Exodus. The Tabernacle represents growth, in a way, but certainly not an end; just another moment of transition in the ultimate journey. I mention this because we sometime complete a project, or . perhaps retire from full time work, and stop to think that it is now time to cease living. What Torah is telling us is being echoed by a growing number of studies; to stop evolving as a human being is to die. The growth in “encore” careers and personal reinvention on the part of so many Boomers gives testimony to this fact that the last third of life can be a time of great creativity, energy and personal and spiritual growth. We are all in a process of becoming. To cease that is to stagnate. We all need rest (hence Shabbat) but after being refreshed, we are charged with the continuing task of creation.
Shabbat shalom,
Rabbi Richard F Address

1 Comment

  1. I know from both professional and personal experience that to stop growing is “die” in so many ways. At 72 years young, while physical problems challenge me and many of the people I know and the work (I do programs in senior living facilities, nursing homes and units for folks with dementia) shows me that “there is always someone home” in the bodies of those people, My laughter, music and movement work seems to wake these souls up. Love the analogies here. I am, in fact, working on a book about death and dying. What’s Laughter got to do With It? Thank you Rabbi Address.

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