Parashas Pekudei

This week’s parashah begins with a report of Moshe’s accounting of the materials contributed to the Mishkan and how they were used. The Midrash says that the accounting was made at Moshe’s behest (Shemos Rabbah 51:1 and 51:6). Now surely Moshe did not think that the people suspected him of appropriating some of the materials, far be it. What, then, was his intent?
The Maggid explains that Moshe wished to inspect the work, to check whether it had all been done exactly as Hashem had commanded, without additions or deletions. Moshe reasoned that, while the accounting was being carried out, he would be able to discern the nature of each item the people had built, and assess whether it conformed with Hashem’s instructions.
The Maggid brings out the point with the following allegory. A man was a guest at someone’s home for a length of time. When the time came for the guest to leave, the host wanted to inspect the guest’s baggage, to see if the guest had taken anything from the house. But, obviously, the host wanted to do so without creating an awkward situation. So he said to the guest: “Come, let us check over your baggage, to see if you have left any of your belongings in my house.” The host’s intent, of course, was just the opposite, but he framed the inspection as he did in order to spare his guest embarrassment. 
Similarly, when Moshe wanted to inspect the work done on the Mishkan, he did not want the Jewish People to catch on that he suspected them of possibly having deviated from Hashem’s instructions. Hence he directed the suspicion against himself, and framed the inspection as an accounting to verify that he had not appropriated anything. We can discern Moshe’s true intent from the way the Torah sums up the accounting: “And Moshe saw the entire work, and, behold, they had done it – as Hashem had commanded, thus they had done.” The Torah does not sum up by saying that Moshe had dealt faithfully, and all of the materials were accounted for. Rather, the Torah sums up by praising the Jewish People for not deviating from Hashem’s instructions. We thus see that the true purpose of the accounting was to examine whether the Jewish People had reacted to Hashem’s word appropriately – that is, with simple compliance. And in the end, although the project involved many workers, it was found that every one of them faithfully carried out Hashem’s word to the letter. In this way, the Jewish People rectified the sin of the golden calf. There, the people had introduced a new form of service on their own. Here, the people simply followed Hashem’s word, with no reckonings of their own whatsoever. In the parashah, the Torah emphasizes the people’s compliance through the repeated use of the phrase “as Hashem commanded Moshe.” Everything was done exactly as Hashem had commanded.   
The Midrash in Shemos Rabbah 51:8 (end) relates:
Said the Holy One Blessed Be He to Israel: “When you made the calf, you angered Me with the words eileh elokecha (this is your God). But now, with your making of the Mishkan [which is recounted] through the word eileh, I reconcile with you.” This is [what underlies the opening verse of our parashah]: “These (eileh) are the reckonings of the Mishkan.”
The word eileh, meaning these (or this, in the phrase “this is your God”), indicates a set of objects or circumstances that one can point to and say, “This is it” (see Rashi on Shemos 12:2 and 15:2).  Here, the Torah presents the protocol that the Jewish People followed in building the Mishkan and declares, “This is it” – this is exactly what Hashem commanded. It is through this precise compliance that the Jewish People became reconciled with Hashem.
David Zucker, Site Administrator

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