Vayak’hel-Pekudei (5781)

A Drash for Vayakheil-Pekudei

by Marc Mangel

Today we have a double portion that closes out the book of Shmot. I will draw mainly on Vayakheil.

About three weeks ago, a friend of ours wrote to me “OED [the editors of the Oxford English Dictionary] couldn’t settle on one word of the year for 2020, but among their choices (and my personal favorite … or should I say favourite?) was Blursday. Sticking close to home (and without even much new on TV as an anchor), every day is pretty much like every other.” 

For today, I explored how the  Torah gives us guidance concerning Blursday.

Shabbat punctuates time for us (Ch 35, v1-3)

The Jewish calendar precisely divides the year into weeks, and each week has 6 days culminating in Shabbat and 6 days following Shabbat. We have days getting ready for Shabbat, Shabbat itself, and days coming down from the high of Shabbat.

Friday night candles and Havdalah are moments of separation between the profane and holy. To deal with Blursday, we need to divide the rest of the week into identifiable chunks of time; it is here that the Torah helps us.

We can punctuate time with Tzedaka and other Divine Service (Ch 35, v 5 and follows)

Rav Elizer Cohen teaches that we should interrupt our lives when an opportunity to give arises. These day, we can give tzedakah easily online, but we can also walk a can of food over to donation barrel, a donation that gives exercise and doing a mitzvah.

Tzedaka is one form of Divine Service. In general, God expects us to do our share in making the world and things within it holy — kedusha does not count for much without human involvement.

Rosally Saltsman tells us that “Volunteering for any project or cause that will help a larger group of people and requires teamwork is an act of chesed.”

We can confront Blursday by interrupting the week with an  opportunity for tzedaka and by showing  greater generosity than we might otherwise. We can also confront Blursday by finding ways to help people rebuild lives after the pandemic.

We can punctate time doing art (Ch 35, v 30)

Bezalel was selected by God to do the work of building the tabernacle, and God gave him the spirit, wisdom, understanding, knowledge, and mastery of all the crafts needed.

Although none of us will achieve what Bezalel did, but we can all do our own personal art – to connect with the right, and more spiritual, side of our brain.

There are many adult coloring books available at Amazon, and from David Friedman in Sefat one can purchase The Kabbalah Coloring Book (thank you, Karen Sylvan, for point me towards it).

We can confront Blursday by setting a weekly time for art.

We can punctuate time with study

Although we do not have direct line to God like Bezalel did,  we can all work to increase our wisdom, understanding, and knowledge through study. Even better, we can study with someone.

We can  confront Blursday by having a weekly time for study.

We can find our unique contribution and make a personal accounting regularly (Ch 38)

Pekudei calls on us to count every detail separately and emphasizes the value of each individual.

Ibn Ben Bachya writes in the ‘Gate of Self Accounting’ that self accounting is earnest deliberation on one’s religious and secular concerns, in the privacy of one’s thoughts, to discover what one has accomplished and yet to accomplish of his obligations.

In summary, we can confront Blursday with Shabbat, setting a day  for art, setting a day for study, and regular self-accounting. And these will be good habits post-pandemic.

Were we together, we’d say “Be strong! Be strong! And let us strengthen each other!”.  That is a good sentiment.

Shabbat shalom