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UJUC Torah Talk for your Shabbat Table, Rabbi Jennifer Rudin

This week we read two parashiyot (Torah portions), Vayakhel and Pekudei. These two parashiyot (Torah portions) complete the Book of Exodus (the second book of the Torah). When we finish a book of the Torah we say, “Be Strong, Be Strong and Together We’ll Grow Stronger”.

In Parashat Vayakhel, Moses reminds the Israelites to observe Shabbat. He reviews the directions given by God for the building of the mishkan (the portable sanctuary used in the desert) and aske the people to contribute gifts to be used in the construction. Bezalel and Oholiab are appointed to supervise the building of the mishkan. The Israelites respond by bringing so many gifts that Moses has to ask them to stop contributing! The description of the building of the mishkan continues in Parashat Pikudei. When Moses sees the completed Mishkan he blesses the Israelites. With the mishkan complete, a cloud of God covers it and fills it. When the cloud lifts, camp is broken and the Israelites continue their journey through the desert. God leads them as a cloud by day and as fire by night.

In Parashat Pikudei we learn that Moses blessed the community for a job well done. The Torah does not, however, reveal Moses’ words of blessing. AS A FAMILY imagine that you are Moses and write a blessing for the Israelites to congratulate them on the completion of the mishkan. NOW, think about the phrase that we recite when we reach the end of a book of the Torah, “Be strong, be strong and together we will grow stronger.” Why do you think we acknowledge strength as we transition from one book to another? Do you think the blessing that Moses bestowed upon the Israelites strengthened them for the next part of their journey?

Shabbat Shalom