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From the President

Peter Greenberg

Email: president@sephardi.co.za

 

Hello Dear Kehila.

In this week’s Parsha, Parshat Pekudei, the Torah reiterates many times that we built the Mishkan/Tanernacle just as GD commanded to Moshe. The Talmud at the beginning of the Tractate of Pesahim, goes out of its way to emphasise that the Torah was written with extreme accuracy without an extra word being added for no apparent reason.

Accordingly, the Torah reiterating the same idea many times seems to be redundant with no apparent reason. What can be the reason that the Torah wants to emphasise this idea so many times?

HaRav Yosef Doc Soloveichik, of blessed memory, in his book Beit HaLevi (Shemot 31, 13) explains that the building of the Mishkan by us was an atonement for the Chet Ha’egel, the sin of the golden calf. He explains that we actually had positive intentions when making the golden calf!

They thought that Moshe, our teacher, wasn’t coming down from Mount Sinai and that they needed someone or something to take Moshe’s place to be an intermediary between them and The Almighty. Our mistake was that we chose to worship and tried to achieve closeness with The Almighty based on our own feelings and thoughts. We did not ask the sages, such as Aharon HaKohen, if this was the proper way to bring ourselves close to GD, or perhaps do something else. In order to atone for this mistake, we built the Mishkan exactly as GD had commanded to Moshe – we didn’t add or take away anything. This was the ultimate atonement for Chet Ha’agel — we didn’t try to worship our Creator as we saw fit but rather waited to hear how GD wants us to have a relationship and serve Him.

Many times we find ourselves thinking that we can achieve a closeness to The Almighty with things that “feel spiritual”. The danger with this approach is that if there is no direction from our sages, we can end up worshipping idolatry, mistakenly thinking that we are actually serving and following our Infinite Creator. It is for this reason that Haham Moshe Haim Luzzatto, in his book Mesilat Yesharim/Path of the Just, (chapter 1) emphasises that our goal is to achieve closeness to GD. How? This can only be achieved by putting effort into understanding our Torah and the Mitsvot, through the eyes of our sages, (written and oral Torah) and emulating GD, which he has commanded us. This is the importance of receiving guidance in our relationship and service of the Almighty.

“Listen with curiosity. Speak with honesty. Act with integrity. The greatest problem with communication is we don’t listen to understand. We listen to reply. When we listen with curiosity, we don’t listen with the intent to reply. We listen for what’s behind the words.” —Roy Bennet.

Shabbat Shalom – Rachel, Naftali and girlies.