Parshat Pekudei 5776: Moshe, and Nullification of Human Nature: Paradigm for Today’s Jewish Governance

Shalom Friends;

This week, our Parshat HaShevua, Pekudei is being sponsored by Dov and Bracha Moses and family of Ramat Beit Shemesh dedicated for refuah shlaima for Rachel bat Chaya Perel, Yehudit bat Chaya Perel and Chaya Perel bat Rivka. To the Moses family, many thanks for your sponsorship and for your continued kindnesses.

You can celebrate a Simcha — a birth, a Bar/Bat Mitzvah, a Chassuna or other Simcha event in your life, or commemorate a Yahrtzeit of a loved one, or for whatever other reason by sponsoring a Parshat HaShevua.

Please forward to your relatives and friends and encourage them to sponsor a Parshat HaShevua. And please be in contact with me with any questions, or for further details.

Best Regards,

Moshe Burt
skype: mark.burt3

Parshat Pekudei 5776: Moshe, and Nullification of Human Nature: Paradigm for Today’s Jewish Governance

by Moshe Burt

Rabbi Daniel Yormark of the Young Israel of Etingville, New York, wrote in a National Council of Young Israels D’var Torah on Parshat Vayakhel (25 Adar I, 5755 — 25 February, 1995):

Shabbat is not merely ‘a day off’…. It is not merely a day where there are so many things that I cannot do. It is a day when the Jew enters the realm of The One Above. It is a day when the the theme is Oneg, pleasure and delight. It is a day where even our indulging in physical pleasure can be elevated and becomes an integral part of mirroring Hashem. It is a day when concerns for mundane and ephemeral pursuits is inappropriate…. Shabbat is a Matanah Tovah — a very special gift.

To segue into Parshat Pekudei, just as Shabbos is very special, so was Moshe Rabbeinu, despite whatever the cronic complainers in the camp said. The two are intinsically linked and inseparable. Our Parsha follows immediately after Parshat Vayakhel, and is a doubleheader parsha in years when there is only one Adar. Parshat Pekudei expresses Moshe’s paradigm lesson for both today’s secular Israeli governmental leaders and law enforcement/judicial systems, as well as for religious communal leaders in matters of honesty, intent, ethics, accountability and transparency.

Our Parshat Pekudei begins;

“These are the accounts of the Mishkan (the Sanctuary), the Mishkan of testimony, which were drawn up on Moshe’s orders …” (Shemos, Perek 38, posuk 21 — Metsudah Linear Chumash, page 579).

In short, Pekudei is the accountant’s parsha, the parsha of crunching the numbers.

The Sefer L’lmod U’Lamed on our parsha asks what the primary reason was for Moshe’s detailed accounting of the costs of the construction of the Mishkan:

The Sages tell that “there were apparently some who suspected that Moshe might have kept some … contributions for his own use.” (Parshat Pekudei, pages 97-98).

The Sefer “The Midrash Says” (pages 357-360) notes that Moshe Rabbeinu overheard mutterings among certain people, presumably sinful individuals such as Dasan and Aviram, who cast aspersions upon his (Moshe’s) honesty regarding the allocation of the people’s donations. According to “The Midrash Says”, comments were heard such as:

“Of late, Ben Amram’s neck is very fat! ….No wonder; he is in charge of all that money for the Mishkan!”

Moshe Rabbeinu, by his nature, was totally above board and above reproach. But he seemed to have realized that despite all that his leadership meant to Klal Yisrael, whether they realized it or not, that there would still be jealousy, envy and doubt amongst some.

Therefore, Moshe committed himself, proactively, to account for the allocation and purpose of everything donated toward the construction of the Mishkan. “The Midrash Says” (page 357) then relates that not only did Moshe account for all donations, but he “… gave his calculations to a second person, Ithamar Ben Aharon, for verification.” Perhaps this was the first real paradigm of oversight: a Delloite-Touche CPA-like audit.

The irony here is that when the jewelry and gold were collected for making the Chait HaEigel, no accountability or transparency, no source and allocation of donations was demanded from those who compelled the Eigel. However, when the donations came in and the Mishkan was constructed, many demanded and expected such accountability and transparency from Moshe Rabbeinu.

Moshe Rabbeinu was the model of, and set the standard for accountability, oversight and transparency of Real Jewish leadership.

His apparent pro-activeness in accounting for the collection and use of all donated materials stands as a prototype for the type of material, financial and legal/judicial accountability and transparency which Am Yisrael should, must and have THE right to expect l’chatchilla (the way things ought to be) from its governance.

But there is another aspect to Moshe Rabbeinu’s leadership which is expressed in our Parshat Pekudei. In Parshat Ki Tisa, “The Sapirstein Edition of the Chumash with Rashi Commentary” renders translation of Sefer Sh’mot, Perek 30, posukim 30 (page 433):

“You shall anoint Aaron and his sons and consecrate them to be Kohanim to Me.”

In Parshat Pekudei, Hashem commands Moshe in more specific terms (translation rendered in “The Sapirstein Edition of the Chumash with Rashi Commentary”, Sefer Sh’mot, Perek 40, posukim 13-16, page 520-521):

“You shall dress Aharon in the garments of sanctity and anoint him; you shall sanctify him to be a Kohen to Me. And his sons you shall bring near and dress them… You shall anoint them as you had anointed their father and they shall be Kohanim to Me, and it shall be for them for eternal Kehunah for their generations. And Moshe did according to all that Hashem had commanded him, so he did.”

Rav Zelig Pliskin cites R’ Meir Simcha HaKohen in his sefer, “Growth Through Torah” on our parsha (pages 233-234)

When Moshe was told to anoint his brother Aharon he was able to do it with a complete heart. Moshe, the younger brother, was the leader of B’nei Yisrael and was happy that his brother was the High Priest. But, in reference to Aharon’s sons, the situation was different. Moshe’s own sons were not going to succeed him as leaders. So, when… anointing Aharon’s sons Moshe might have felt envy. Therefore the Almighty told Moshe to anoint Aharon’s sons with the same wholeheartedness and joy with which he anointed their father (Meshech Chochmah).

It was amazing that Moshe would need a special command to overcome envy. We see from here that even the greatest person needs to internalize attitudes that will help him avoid envy. Moreover, we see that it is possible to feel joy and enthusiasm for another person’s success even if that person has something that you do not.

One could gain the impression from Hashem’s command, that His “knowing what is in the heart of man” (Ibn Ezra); this would necessitate a command to nullify any feelings of envy Moshe might have in anointing his brother’s sons. But, when we learn and recognize Moshe’s level of humility and modesty, perhaps we could understand that this added command to Moshe: “….anoint them as you had anointed their father” would be a lesson for Jewish leadership and for Am Yisrael for all time.

But it seems to this author that if there is a moral behind our Parshat Pekudei, it would be that observant Jews, by dint of our closeness to, and our striving for emulation of Hashem, must answer to a higher standard, a higher calling. Observant Jews must be above even a sniff of taint, of fraud or dishonesty: in their business dealings, in employment practices, in the whole realm of interpersonal relationships with other Jews — regardless of sector, and in affairs of elective governance.

Moshe is, for all times, the prototype of a true Jewish Leader — humble, modest, without desire for self-aggrandizement and self-enrichment. His first and foremost thought was for the welfare and well-being of his nation — the B’nai Yisrael. Moshe Rabbeinu was above corruption and self-enrichment. Nobody owned him as he could not be bought.

May we, the B’nei Yisrael be zocha that our brethren — the refugee families from Gush Katif be permanently settled and be made totally whole — be totally restituted for all that was stolen from them at leftist-agendized, supreme court legalized gunpoint, that our dear brother Jonathan Pollard be liberated and truly free — only upon his return home to Israel, and that Sholom Rubashkin, as well as the MIAs be liberated alive and returned to us in ways befitting Al Kiddush Hashem, as should the remains of the two chayalim from the Gaza War of 1 1/2 years ago. May we have the courage and strength to stand up and physically prevent the possibility of Chas V’Challila any future eviction of Jews from their homes and the handing of Jewish land over to anyone, let alone to enemies sworn to Israel’s and Judaism’s destruction and eradication. May we fulfill Hashem’s blueprint of B’nai Yisrael as a Unique people — an Am Segula, not to be reckoned with as with “the nations” and may we be zocha to see the Moshiach, the Ge’ula Shlaima, as Dov Shurin sings; “Ki Karov Yom Hashem Al’Kol HaGoyim”, the Ultimate Redemption, bimhayrah b’yamainu — speedily, in our time”, — Achshav, Chik Chuk, Miyad, Etmol!!!

Good Shabbos!

Moshe Burt, an Oleh, is a commentator on news and events in Israel and Founder and Director of The Sefer Torah Recycling Network. He lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh.

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