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Torah Sparks

March 8, 2003 - 5763

Annual Cycle: Exodus 38:21 - 40:38 (Hertz, p. 385; Etz Hayim, p. 564)
Triennial Cycle II: Exodus 38:21 - 39:21 (Hertz, p. 385; Etz Hayim, p. 564)
Haftarah: I Kings 7:51 - 8:21 (Hertz, p. 392; Etz Hayim, p. 580)

Prepared by Rabbi Lee Buckman
Head of School, Jewish Academy of Metropolitan Detroit

Department of Services to Affiliated Congregations
Rabbi Martin J. Pasternak, Director

Torah Portion Summary

(38:21-39:21) An accounting of the materials used in building the Mishkan; a description of the fashioning of the Ephod (priest's outer garment) and the breastplate.

(39:22-31) A description of the fashioning of the priestly garments.

(39:32-43) The Mishkan and its vessels are brought to Moses, and he blesses and sanctifies them.

(40:1-16) God commands Moses to set up the Mishkan and to anoint and consecrate Aaron and his sons as priests.

(40:17-33) Moses sets up the Mishkan as instructed.

(40:34-38) God causes His Shekhinah (Holy Presence), indicated by the cloud, to dwell in the Tent of Meeting.

Discussion Theme: Integrity

"These are the records of the Tabernacle, the Tabernacle of the Pact, which were drawn up at Moses's bidding... All the gold that was used for the work, in all the work of the sanctuary-the elevation offering of gold-came to 29 talents and 730 shekels by the sanctuary weight." (Ex. 38:21, 24)

  1. In this passage all the weights of the contribution of the Mishkan have been listed, for the silver, for the gold, and for the copper. And all of its implements have been listed in it, for all of its work of the Temple service. (Rashi)
  2. Why did he render an accounting? God trusted Moses's honesty, yet Moses still made an accounting. This was because the scorners of his time gossiped regarding him, as it is stated, 'And it came to pass, when Moses went out unto the Tent, that all the people rose up, and stood, every man at his tent door, and looked after Moses' (Exodus 33:6).What did they say? They looked at his back and said one to another: What a neck! What legs! Moses eats that which is ours, and drinks that which is ours. His fellow would reply: Fool! A man who is in charge of the work of the Tabernacle, talents of silver, talents of gold, uncounted and unnumbered - what else do you expect - that he should not be rich! When Moses heard this, he said: By your lives! As soon as the work of the Tabernacle is finished, I shall render them an accounting. As soon as it was finished, he said to them: 'These are the accounts of the Tabernacle.' (Tanchuma Pekudei 7)
  3. Our sages have written that one does not have to guard himself against a really bad man who expresses his evil openly, nor against a really pious man whom one knows well to be sincere, but one must be on guard against the person who acts as if he were righteous, who kisses the prayer book, recites psalms and prayers day and night, yet in money matters is a crook. People think that such a person is really pious because he worships so earnestly... but in most cases people like him are not to be trusted. True piety is determined by one's attitude to money, for only he who is reliable in money matters may be considered pious. (Zvi Hirsch Koidonovoer, Kav ha-Yashar)
  4. If one is honest in his business dealings and people esteem him, it is accounted to him as though he had fulfilled the whole Torah. (Mechilta Vayetse 1)

Sparks for Reflection

So much conspires to undermine integrity in this world. Society tells us that being smart matters most and that if you are bright, talented and aggressive, you can get away with a lot. The marketplace teaches us that style is more important than substance. In politics we see that getting people to believe you is more important than telling the truth. We come to believe that power and success allow us to break the rules or that playing the game is fine as long as we don't get caught. How do we reassert the primacy of integrity? Why is it the cornerstone of piety in Judaism especially when it comes to monetary matters?

Chazak, chazak, v'nitchazek!

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