Since the Torah is normally very parsimonious with its words, nothing is more surprising in Parashat Pekudei (and Vayakhel) than the great amount of detail and repetition in the divine instructions relating to the building and the architecture of the Mishkan (Tabernacle). Not the smallest nuance is excluded, and nothing is left to human imagination. Preciseness stands out, and every pin and string is mentioned.
…This feeling of wonderment is the source and inexhaustible fountain-head of his desire for knowledge. It drives the child irresistibly on to solve the mystery, and if in his attempt he encounters a causal relationship, he will not tire of repeating the same experiment ten times, a hundred times, in order to taste the thrill of discovery over and over again….The reason why the adult no longer wonders is not because he has solved the riddle of life, but because he has grown accustomed to the laws governing his world picture. But the problem of why these particular laws and no others hold remains for him just as amazing and inexplicable as for the child. He who does not comprehend this situation misconstrues its profound significance, and he who has reached the stage where he no longer wonders about anything, merely demonstrates that he has lost the art of reflective reasoning.
[Max Planck, Scientific Autobiography, NY, 1949, pp 91-93]
In this week’s parasha we find a fascinating passage concerning Moshe’s descent from Sinai. We are informed that Moshe decided to cover his face with a mask after realizing that his facial skin had become radiant causing people to withdraw and not dare approach him (Shemot 34: 29-35).
Judaism is the theology of the physical, the commonplace and the mundane. It is concerned with the everydayness of our lives and struggles, with the devastating effect brought on by the curse of the multitude of trivialities that often keep us busy from morning till night. It struggles with the emptiness of our lives when we do not even have the time to focus on the higher meaning of our existence. Man’s paradox is that he is too much at home in this world yet needs to escape his worldliness in order to be consciously part of the universe.
As is well known, Yitro, the father in law of Moshe, advised his son in law
to change the juridical process being used to judge the people traveling in the desert on their way to the land of Israel
Throughout history some of the greatest people often failed time after time before they really made it to the top. Others thought that they had failed but realized at a later stage in life that what they believed to be failure was in fact a grand success. Still others never succeeded in the conventional sense of the word, but became the hallmark of marvelous accomplishments, sometimes, without ever being aware of it.
When carefully studying the commandments of the Torah, it is most important to note the emotional sensitivity used by the text not to offend any of its readers. When discussing the “Eved Ivri” “the Hebrew Servant,” the text states: “When you buy a Hebrew servant, six years he shall serve, and in the seventh year he shall go out into freedom for nothing” (Shemoth 21:1).