Vayakhel Pekudei

“Parsha and Purpose” – Vayakhel-Pekudei 5781
Rabbi Kenneth Brander’s weekly insights into the parsha 

“The Cloud of Clarity in a World of Doubt

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Parshat Vayakhel-Pekudei (Exodus 35:1 – 38:20)

“The Cloud of Clarity in a World of Doubt”

One of the most challenging events, even for the most experienced of pilots is flying in fog, in cloud cover. For pilots that are not skilled, cloud cover, fog is an extremely dangerous and a potentially deadly hazard.

Tragically, each year people are killed due to fog/cloud related aviation accidents. Low visibility, low ceilings and instrumentation failure is caused due to clouds/fog. 

And so it is very curious that throughout the Torah, the word “Anan” – cloud / fog – confusion and a lag of clarity, is used to represent the very real imminence of God’s Presence.

In Parshat Noach, after the flood a cloud signifies the renewal of the relationship between God and His creation:

וְהָיְתָה הַקֶּשֶׁת בֶּעָנָן וּרְאִיתִיהָ לִזְכּור בְּרִית עוֹלָם
בֵּין אֱלֹקים וּבֵין כָּל נֶפֶשׁ חַיָּה בְּכָל בָּשָׂר אֲשֶׁר עַל הָאָרֶץ׃

When the rainbow is in the cloud,
I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant
between God and all living creatures, all flesh that is on earth. (Genesis 9:16)

At Mount Sinai, clouds represent the Presence of God. 

…וַיְהִי קולות וּבְרָקִים וְעָנָן כָּבֵד עַל הָהָר..

…and there was thunder and lightning, and a dense cloud upon the mountain…

(Exodus 19:16)
We also find this symbolism at the end of this week’s Torah portions of Vayakhel/ Pekudei, at the moment of the completion of the Mishkan, the Tabernacle:
וַיְכַס הֶעָנָן אֶת אוהֶל מוֹעֵד וּכְבוֹד ה’ מָלֵא אֶת הַמִּשְׁכָּן
And the cloud covered the Tent of Meeting,
and the Presence of the LORD filled the Tabernacle.
וְלֹא יָכול מֹשֶׁה לָבוֹא אֶל אֹהֶל מוֹעֵד
Moshe could not enter into the Mishkan/Tabernacle
כִּי שָׁכַן עָלָיו הֶעָנָן 
because the cloud covering was there
and as the verse continues:
וּכְבוֹד ה’ מָלֵא אֶת הַמִּשְׁכָּן  
and the Presence of God therefore filled the Tabernacle.  
(Exodus 40:34-35)

Why is it that cloud cover represents God’s Presence?

What is it about the Anan that symbolizes an engagement between God and humankind?

I’d love to hear your answer to this. It has always bothered me.  

I’d like to suggest that it’s because our relationship with God can sometimes be clouded, complicated.  

For you and I to have a relationship with God, it doesn’t mean that there is complete clarity in the relationship.

Like flying within the fog, our spiritual instrumentation can be disturbed; can lack balance or clarity of navigation.

And that’s okay.

So if our relationship with God, or belief in Him, is not perfect, that’s okay.

If a lack of clarity leads to doubts, that’s understandable.

If we question, that’s fine.

If we don’t understand, that’s to be expected.

There are moments in our lives when we may feel clarity in our relationship with God, but there are also many moments when we have questions, when we’re not so sure about things.

God appearing in cloud cover is telling us: “Its alright. I will be with you even when you are experiencing a lack of clarity.”

Lack of clarity can sometimes be unnerving and frightening.

Yet even this type of relationship with God can still be transformational and spiritually uplifting.

Shabbat Shalom.

“Parsha and Purpose” – Parshat Vayakhel-Pekudei 5780
Rabbi Kenneth Brander’s weekly insights into the parsha 

“Kindness as an Antidote to Isolation”

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Kindness as an Antidote to Isolation: Parshat Vayakhel-Pekudei

I’m recording this on the Sunday of the week when we read the parsha of Vayakhel-Pekudei, a parsha that many of us may not be able to hear, for all the right halakhic reasons, because it’s forbidden for us to go to shul.

This is a trying time for all of us, throughout the world community, and the parsha has a message for us, and that is, that we need to be “kindness commandos.”

Vayakhel. The parsha starts off by saying that Moshe gathered the people. He gathered the people to announce the building of the Mishkan, a conduit for a conversation, an interaction with God. Exodus 35:1

This week, we cannot gather as a community. We are challenged by the health risks that face us. We cannot be together as a community, but we can still act as a community.

For every single person whose hand we can’t shake, we can reach out with a phone call. For every single person whom we may not be able to hug, we can engage in a different way. When we go to the store to buy food for ourselves, let’s ask ourselves: is there someone else who needs a little extra?

Imagine the message that we give to our children, a message that will be much more profound than anything they can learn in school, if we show them that social distancing doesn’t mean that we ignore the other.

This is the time for Vayakhel. This is the time for us to come together and honor the message of the parsha. Maybe we cannot come together physically, but spiritually we can connect. This is a time for us to get to know ourselves better. It’s a time for us to get to know our families better. It’s a time of Vayakhel. It’s a time to come together.

Let’s be “kindness commandos,” to ourselves, and be healthy, to our families, to our children and grandchildren, to our spouses, to the larger world society. Let’s remember, that even though we can’t hug somebody and we can’t shake their hand, we can still show that we care.

Shabbat Shalom.

Parshat Vayikra (Leviticus 1:1 – 5:26) Rabbi Shlomo Riskin Efrat, Israel — “And (God) called to Moses, and the Lord spoke to him from the Tent of Meeting, saying, ‘Speak to the Children of Israel and say to them, anyone who brings a sacrifice to the Lord, from the animals, from the cattle and from the …

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  יוצרים קהילה פרשת ויקהל מביאה עמה רגע מיוחד בו בני ישראל מתחילים את תהליך הפיכתם מקהל של אינדיבידואלים לקהילה שהינה ישות אחת הילה סמו מדור פרשת השבוע של אתר כיפה, כ”ח אדר תשע”ז, 26/03/2017 פרשתנו מסופר על התרומה שנותנים בני ישראל לצורך בניית המשכן ועל האופן הממשי בו נבנה המשכן, כולל מתן ציווים מדוקדקים …

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לאן הולכים קולות המצביעים? הרב בועז פש   מדוע ביקש גבאי הצדקה של הישיבה סוס וכרכרה וכיצד זה עשוי להשפיע על ההצבעה שלכם ביום הבחירות? מדור פרשת השבוע של אתר כיפה, כ אדר תשע”ה, 11/03/2015 בעוד מספר ימים נלך כולנו לבחור את נציגנו שיישבו ב’משכן’ הכנסת. בפרשתנו התורה מסיימת לתאר את בניית ‘מִשְׁכַּן הָעֵדוּת’ – “עֵדוּת …

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