Pekudei Torah Portion: Exodus 38:21–Exodus 40:38
We've been reading about the Mishkan (Tabernacle) for four
Now, back to the details of Parshat Pekudei. What actually happens in this
the building materials that the children of Israel donated to the construction project (e.g. how much gold, silver, copper, etc.)
the priestly garments, including the:
ephod or apron
By the way, if you're interested in the deeper significance of these articles of priestly clothing, then you will enjoy Rabbi Fohrman and Imu Shalev's ParshaLab podcast on the topic from Parshat Tetzaveh: "What Do The Laws Of Choshen Mishpat Teach Us About Our Relationship To God?"
Finally, in chapter 39, the penultimate chapter of the Book of Exodus, the construction of the Mishkan is complete. We get a brief recounting of all that was done, and the text emphasizes to us, over and over again, that the children of Israel dutifully discharged the instructions that God had commanded Moses. The component parts of the Mishkan are physically brought before Moses: the walls, pillars, and connective pieces, its tapestries/coverings and curtains, and
In chapter 40, God relays to Moses a new set of instructions regarding how to actually (finally!) set up the Mishkan and get it ready for business. Moses puts all of the Mishkan's furniture in its proper place: the menorah, the ark, the showbread table, the altars, the washstand, and more, and anoints it all with oil, to sanctify it. He also dresses Aaron and his sons in their priestly garments and pours
"Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle." (Ex. 40:34)
No one is able to enter the Mishkan at this point — not even Moses, shockingly — because, the text tells us, the glory of the Lord is there. (Chapters later, in the Book of Leviticus, we will read that there is one time, and one time only, when a person will be permitted to enter the innermost sanctum of the Mishkan and to approach the cloud of God's glory. That time is Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the year, and that person is the Kohen Gadol. For more on understanding that approach between man and God, and how it might actually relate to this moment in Parshat Pekudei, see Rabbi Fohrman's video on "The (Surprising) Meaning & Purpose Of Yom Kippur."
Finally, in the closing verses of Parshat Pekudei, we learn about the cloud and fire, seemingly manifestations of God's presence, which would protect and guide the people during their travels. With the Mishkan complete, the children of Israel are ostensibly ready to begin to move towards the Promised Land. But they will not leave the base of Sinai for the next book and a half of the Torah – until Parshat Beha'alotecha. Between now and then stands the Book of Leviticus, wherein the children of Israel learn, among other things, how to offer sacrifices to God who now dwells in holiness in their midst, and how to be holy themselves.