Sedra of the week: Pekudei

Sedra of the week: Pekudei

Rabbi Ariel Abel looks ahead to this week's portion of the torah

Rabbi Ariel Abel

Ariel Abel is rabbi of the Liverpool Old Hebrew Congregation

Pekudei means accounts, referring to the inventory required to furnish the Tabernacle, drawing it together into one piece and make it one whole structure. The detail on the High Priest’s vestments reflects the tribal glory of Israel. For example, the choshen (breastplate) carried a semi-precious stone for each of the twelve sons of Jacob. Divine counsel was applied for by the priest, who received messages from Above when wearing this adornment, which he then had to interpret. 

Tradition teaches that when Hannah, future mother of Samuel the prophet, was praying for a child before God at the Temple in Shiloh, Eli the High Priest consulted God and received a message indicating Hannah was drunk. He misunderstood the letters that appeared to him to spell shikorah “drunkard” instead of kesherah, “fit and proper”. This reflection on the use of the breastplate, behind which were kept Divine names, teaches the importance of seeing the best in co-citizens, without which even Divine inspiration will not help to achieve the truth we seek. 

Moses dedicates his brother Aaron and his sons to Divine service. During the 40 years of wandering in the desert, that cloud (Divine presence) lifted above the sanctuary to lead the Israelites on their journeys, appearing as a pillar of fire by night.

The Haftara (Ashkenazic custom) recounts the First Temple’s completion and Solomon’s plea to God that the prayers of all worshippers should be heard. Sephardim read about Hiram’s efforts in building the Solomonic temple and its glorious adornments and exquisite construction. 

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