Vayakhel-Pikudei: A Time to Build

Parshiyot Vayakhel and Pekudei are basically repetitions of the material which was previously covered in parshiyot Terumah and Tezaveh. This naturally gives rise to an often asked question: How can our Torah, which we know is never redundant, go ahead and “waste” so much space on all of these extra verses? Why not simply state, “and the bnei Yisrael did as Moses commanded them”, as is frequently done in the Torah?

It is also important to note that even in the description itself of the Tabernacle and its vessels, the Torah is uncharacteristically verbose. Furthermore, these portions are only an introduction to the book of Vayikra, which deals primarily with topics related to the tabernacle and offerings. And yet, despite it all, most of us feel completely detached
from these portions of the Torah. We can’t seem to relate to them, despite the fact that over one third of the mitzvot are connected to the subject of the Temple and sacrifices.

Lost Proportions
In light of these facts, it must be concluded that our sense of proportion regarding what Judaism considers truly important has been badly distorted. While this Torah sheet often expounds upon basic ideas and concepts which in this lost generation have become so foreign to us, what we see now is that even the mitzvot themselves have become foreign to us, and the Torah has been reduced to it’s bear minimum.

The reason that the Torah allocates such a hefty portion to the Temple and the sacrifices, is because these subjects are so central to the living of a true Jewish life. It is curious that when the Torah devotes a lot of space pertaining to the details of other mitzvot, no one sees this as strange. On the contrary, many feel that indeed, more space should be allotted to the explanations of various mitzvot. Why? Because people understand that without the mitzvot, there is no Torah. But this is precisely the problem. While everyone understands that there is no Judaism without mitzvot, many
do not grasp the fact that the Temple and sacrifices are also essential to Judaism, and without them, there really is no Judaism.

The Holy Temple In Our Days
Only now can we begin to address the issue of our obligation to rebuild the Temple and renew the sacrifices.

In general, this idea is met with immediate opposition. There are no shortage of excuses, each camp offering it’s own explanation why we can’t build the Temple today. Some say: “The Temple will fall from the sky, and it is none of our business”. Others claim: “The Temple is a project for the Messiah”. And then there is this gem: “We are on too low a level to deal with such a lofty topic”. And there are more.

A Mitzva is a Mitzva
For all these excuses, there are clear and powerful answers. However, in this limited space, we cannot bring them down. But there really is no need to. Why? Because the rebuilding of the Temple is one of the 613 commandments. Case closed. Have you ever heard anyone say that eating matzoh on Passover is a job for the Messiah? Has anyone ever said: Family purity? Mikveh? What for?! Family purity will descend from the heavens! Or how about: Study Torah!? A lowly sinner like me should study the holy Torah!?

Of course these excuses are absurd. We do not seek ways to avoid performing mitzvot, all the moreso the mitzvah which literally causes the Divine Presence (Shechina) to dwell amongst us. (Dear friends, did G-d allow us to conquer the Temple Mount thirty years ago just so that the Arabs can continue to desecrate His Name on our holiest site, this time under Jewish sovereignty? Shouldn’t we feel that this is the very last mitzvah we should choose to ignore?)

Grass eaters
Many say that since in the exile there were mitzvot which served as substitutes for the “Shechina”, it is not so terrible if we suffice with these substitutes temporarily in Israel, too. But in the exile we had no choice, and Hashem will forgive us for neglecting the mitzvot pertaining to the Temple. But now, when we control our own fate, how can we possibly suffice with substitutes? This is similar to a man who eats grass instead of food. People ask him: What are you doing? He answers: Look, I was once stuck in the wilderness without food. I found some grass and I ate it to survive. They tell him: Fool! Then, you had no choice, so you were forced to eat grass. But now? You have real food, so why are you still eating grass?

And we. When will we stop eating grass?…

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