Parshios Vayakhel-Pekudei: Knowing is Believing

With this week’s double parshios, Vayakhel-Pekudei, we close the book of Shemos once again.  The road to redemption outlined in Sefer ha’Geula (the Book of Redemption) is complete, as the Bnei Yisrael finish the construction of the Mishkan (Tabernacle), and the presence of G-d rests upon it and within. 

It is this second book of Torah, Sefer Shemos, which tells the story of the redemption of the people of Israel, hence, the appellation “Sefer ha’Geula.”

From an enslaved nation to free people, we left Egypt, crossed the Reed Sea, and battled with Amalek – all symbolizing our physical redemption from servitude; we received the Torah along with the acceptance of the many detailed laws outlined in Mishpatim – our spiritual freedom; and in the last five parshios (chapters) of Shemos, we donated to and constructed the Mishkan, wherein the Shechina (Divine Presence) would dwell amongst us and within us – the final stage of freedom, wherein we proverbially move over, and make room for G-d in our lives and homes. 

R’ S. R. Hirsch writes (Shemos 40:38), “With the acceptance of G-d’s Torah in Israel’s midst as Israel’s mission and supreme aim for all time, and with the establishment of G-d’s glory in the home that Israel prepared for this Torah, the book of Shemos – the book of redemption from Egypt – comes to an end… The founding of the Sanctuary of the Torah, the placement of the Torah in its dwelling place in the Ark, Israel’s devotion upon the altar of this Torah – these made the people the people of G-d. 

“כִּי עֲנַן ה’ עַל-הַמִּשְׁכָּן, יוֹמָם, וְאֵשׁ, תִּהְיֶה לַיְלָה בּוֹ–לְעֵינֵי כָל-בֵּית-יִשְׂרָאֵל, בְּכָל-מַסְעֵיהֶם – For the cloud of G-d was upon the Dwelling Place by day, and there was fire inside it by night, before the eyes of the entire House of Israel throughout their journeys (Shemos 40:38).  Thus it was shown to the ‘entire house of Israel,’ to young and old alike, that G-d’s providence and the blessing of His Torah are not matters of belief, mercifully invented as consolation for this earthly life, but of knowledge, of unshakable conviction based on the certainty of actual experience

“Inside the dwelling place of the Torah, the Table, the Menorah, the altar, and the keruvim-tapestries proclaim: Where G-d’s Torah is taken up with the freshness of eternal thriving and with the firmness and tenacity of pure gold (Holy Ark); where material and spiritual welfare (Table and Menorah) comes only through this Torah and is dedicated (Golden Altar) solely to the fulfillment of this Torah – there the keruvim of G-d’s providence descend, visibly and invisibly, bringing protection and blessing.  This is not belief, but knowledge

“From experience you will learn that when I took you out to be My people, it was not just then, once, that I led you out from under the burdens of Egypt; rather, I will always be to you a G-d Who is close at hand, Who similarly guides you, protects you, and bestows on you His blessing.”

With the construction of the Mishkan and the manifestation of the Divine Presence within, the people – the entire house of Israel – were shown and reminded that Hashem is not our G-d only once, when He redeemed us from Egypt.  Rather, He was always and is always with us, for He is always close at hand.

One who perceives the Hand of Providence constantly guiding him, does not live by mere belief in what has been told to him by others.  Rather, he lives with the truest, more personal, knowledge of Hashem in every aspect and facet of his life. 

Yehoshua’s Story: People ask me, ‘Who was your mother (Rebbetzin Henny Machlis a’h, d.J’lem, 2015)?’  If I had to describe her, I’d quote from Tehillim (55:23): Cast upon Hashem your burden and He will sustain you.  That’s who my mother was in every area.  Not just when she got sick. Most people, when something goes wrong, they throw their burdens on Hashem, because they have no other way out.  But my mother, even when things were going well, she would always depend on Hashem for everything.

“During the time she was sick, she would always say, ‘Hashem, You are the doctor.  You will make me feel better.  You’re going to make the treatment go well.’  She would say this for every injection and every chemo.  She would say, ‘Hashem, thank You.’  I would ask (her), ‘Thank You for what?’  (And she would say,) ‘Thank You for everything You have given me.  Thank You for the cancer.  But I have had enough.  Now take it back.’  Her whole view was, ‘Hashem wants me to be closer to Him, that’s why He’s giving me this pain.’

“She was never concerned about tomorrow in any field – (not) in health, (not) in finances.  Even when today was a bad day, she’d say it really was a good day, and tomorrow will be a better day.

“Did my mother have questions of faith?  Never.  No one in our family did, because emunah was ingrained in us.  Everyone in our family had struggles in various ways, but doubts?  Never!” (Emunah with Love and Chicken Soup, p.484)

With our redemption from Egypt, with the giving, and acceptance, of the Torah, and with the completion of the Mishkan, Sefer Ha’Geula comes to a close. 

As we prepare to celebrate the Yom Tov of Geula, our Festival of Freedom, let us pray that we merit the long awaited day, when: כִּי-מָלְאָה הָאָרֶץ, דֵּעָה אֶת ה’ כַּמַּיִם, לַיָּם מְכַסִּים – the world will be full of knowledge of Hashem, as water covers the sea (Yeshayahu 11:9). 

בברכת בשורות טובות ושבת שלום,

Michal

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