The Theory and the Practice - Vayakhel - Pekudei

Thursday, 19 March, 2020 - 9:35 am

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In a famous art exhibition, there was a wonderful painting, showing a field full of ripe wheat. A small bird was sitting on one of the stalks. The painting looked real. Everybody was admiring it until one farmer came and announced that there is a mistake in the painting! Everyone started laughing, thinking “what could a farmer understand in expensive art paintings?” But their laughter stopped when the farmer explained that it’s impossible for a bird to sit on a stalk, without the stalk bending. In the painting the stalk was straight like the others.

That’s how it is. Practice differs from theory.

Reading this week’s parashot Vayakel Pekudey, we have a strong feeling of “déjà vu”, that we already know what we ‘re reading. Indeed, these parashot are almost the same with the parashot Teruma and Tetsave we read 2-3 weeks ago. The small difference is that over there, we read about the dommandment and how to build the Mishkan, while here we read about the practice. Generally we know that the Torah is very accurate and parsimonious with words. Then why does the Torah need to repeat all these details? We could have economized so many words by saying in one sentence “The Jews built the Mishkan exactly how they were told”.

Usually there is a difference between theory and practice. When someone builds a house, there will sure be differences between the first plan, drawing the house of his/her dreams, and the final result. The architect will explain that the tractor can’t enter here, that you need a larger pipe there and that if you want to get the permission to build, you need to add this and that etc.

We could think that the same applies for the Tabernacle. That for sure there would be differences between the first plan that G-d told Moses on Mount Sinai, and the final result. But here we discover that the first plan was exactly the same as the final Mishkan. How could it be?

This is because here, we are talking about G-d. G-d is the Creator of reality. When He commands to do something, He doesn’t do it from high and far, He is here in the world and knows it well. He creates and sustains it. He always knows what he does.

Sometimes we think that indeed, the words of Torah are real, but the reality is a little different. In real life it’s not possible to keep Shabbat with all its details, to eat only Kosher and follow all the laws etc. That maybe we should adjust the Torah so it fits better to our lives.

This kind of thoughts would be maybe right if we were talking about human laws, as tax or traffic laws.

But when we talk about G-d, He knows the best. He creates us, our world and our challenges. If He commands something, He knows what He is saying and what are our abilities. It might not be easy, but it is surely doable.

Let’s try this week keep one Mitsvah, or a detail of one Mitsva, that we thought until now that we are not capable to fulfill.

Shabbat Shalom!


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