This week's parashiot seem, at first glance, to be of no importance. They are sections that, depending on the year, are read together or separately when the year is a leap vear and we have the added month of Adar II, or Adar Beth. Even someone could consider that the reading of this Shabbat repeats concepts already seen in previous parshiot about the construction of the Mishkan.
The real thing is that Vayakel - Pekudei does not repeat. In principle, what they do is make present and past what was commanded to be done in parashat Truma and Tetzaveh. What in the past parshiot was a mandate from the Lord, in Vayakel and Pekudei we see that it materializes in the hands of the artists in charge of it: Bezalel and Aholiav. Both designated by the Kadosh BaruchHu for having the sensitivity and the ability to interpret what he was asking for the construction of the objects that would be used in the AVODA, the spiritual work.
But what I would like to highlight the most in this section is the
CONSECRATION. To consecrate is to separate something from the rest of the similar things, and to give it a special value and dedicate it to something or someone.
When we witness a chuppah, for example, that act of love, it is neither more nor less than a consecration: the bride and groom separate their chosen ones from the rest of the individuals and recognize them as special to themselves, and dedicate them to themselves. And, in fact, the essential phrase for this act is "Harei at mekudeshet li be tavaat zo ke dat Moshe ve Israel"; I know, by means of this ring CONSECRATED to me according to the law of Moshe and Israel.
Vayakel and Pekudei talk exactly about this.
At first the text clarifies that Moshe gathered ALL the people. The fact of bringing it together already implies a different moment and action from what he had been doing every time he would announce something. In other sections Moshe simply spoke to the people. Here the text especially remarks that it unites him; and not only that, but brings together ALL the people: women, men, young and old ones. They already received the Torah. They already made mistakes together. Everyone must already be there to commit to a joint and common construction of the mishkan.
Then, immediately we read about Shabbat, almost out of place. What does talking about Shabbat have to do with this moment?
Our sages teach us that precisely by committing to the construction of a precept of God, it is not allowed to desecrate the Shabbat. And when the seventh day arrived during the construction, they had to consecrate that time for God and for themselves as a special time inbetween the time, and respect it. They had to cease construction and suspend it until Shabbat was over.
And the Torah continues with Moshe inviting each one to offer. And they must offer from the heart. "every heart giver shall bring a separate offering to the Eternal" (Shmot 35:5).
How is this? Isn't this a precept of the Lord about the construction of the Mishkan? Perhaps what he asks of us is not supposed to be done? What does this mean to give? AND FROM HEART??? Can anyone ORDER something to come out from the heart??
The answer is again to CONSECRATE.
The request is that each one choose something from what they have, separate it and make it special to dedicate it to community construction and to the Eternal. Even that material, when we make it special and give it from the heart, manages to transform. And that what gets transformed is then consecrated.
We also read a clarification, which could go unnoticed: The offerings that each person, man and woman, brought for the work that the Lord ordered, had to be done through Moshe (Beiad Moshe). It was not a personal contribution, with name, surname and a small reminder plate. It was a disinterested contribution and without honors. One of the highest levels in the practice of donations, as the Rambam teaches us. We deliver a donation without knowing who the contribution will receive, but also the beneficiary does not know who the help came from.
It is our time to choose. It is our time to consecrate. Today we choose what things, moments and people we want to make special to ourselves and to others. It is about deepening our relationships, with our partners, with our friends, with our children, grandchildren and close or distant relatives. It is about prioritizing our ties. It is our privilege to do so. It is our privilege to be able to consecrate.
Not only by God's mandate, but to make our lives better, and that of those around us and achieve our highest mandate: Tikun Olam.
Shabbat shalom ve Chodesh tov, have a good month!
Rabbi Gustavo Geier