A call to Activism: Parashat Pekudei
(this portion belongs to last week’s reading, my apologies for the late publishing)
During the last parashot the Torah has been talking about the Mishkan (Tabernacle) building. Materials, sizes, locations and specifications were mentioned. I even compared these instructions with an Ikea manual, considering the substantial difference – Ikea doesn’t instruct with which mindset you’re supposed to assemble your stuff and when you are done with your shopping they sell you a cheap ice cream; The Torah on the other hand reminds you in which mood you need to work (keep things in perspective) and at the end of the Parashah, which is also the end of the book of Sh’mot – Exodus, it’s going to tell us “Chazak, Chazak, V’nichazek!” “Be strong, be strong, and let us strengthen one another!” (a sentence we repeat in the end of each of the five books of the Torah).
The word Mishkan (Tabernacle) comes from the verb Lishkon, which means to reside. If the Mishkan (Tabernacle) is going to be a residence, this immediately raises the question who is going to live there and why do all the people need to be involved and contribute to the building of the “house” of someone!
The answer to “who” is the Shchyna. The Shchyna is going to live there. Who?? The Shchyna! Shchyna is also derived from the verb Lishkon (to reside) and is beautifully translated to English as the Divine presence, or ,a translation that I like even more, the Holy inspiration!
And here the “twist” which elevates this Torah portion. The thing that makes Parashat Pekudei really interesting is that we are not talking about the personal perception of presence or inspiration. We are talking about something common that we make, or build, as a people. Something that we found as a society.
I read divine presence or holy inspiration as the sublime expression of our values as a society. This is not about God, it is the divine presence which is the values that we sanctify! And the only way to have them in our life is by building a holy space to let them reside in. To enable them to “walk” with us, like the tabernacle which moved with the people of Israel.
So when we read about Mishkan building and we probably ask ourselves why it is relevant to me, we should take into account that the Mishkan symbolizes the opportunity that we have to be partners in the consolidation of a society which knows sublime values, and it invites us to contribute and participate.
View and activism are the most essential elements in this “recipe” for the creation of a society which holds and walks with a Mishkan , which is able to live and respect sublime values; Democracy, Social Justice, Love, Respect, these are the holy inspiration, these are divine presence!
Shabbat Shalom, and remember: “Chazak, Chazak, V’nichazek!” “Be strong, be strong, and let us strengthen one another!”