Pekudei 2019

Shabbat: Pekudei

Exodus 38:21 reads, אֵלֶּה פְקוּדֵי הַמִּשְׁכָּן מִשְׁכַּן הָעֵדֻת, אֲשֶׁר פֻּקַּד עַל פִּי מֹשֶׁה, These are the reckonings of the Tabernacle, the Tabernacle of Testimony, which were reckoned at Moses’ bidding. All the items are then listed, as if it were an accountant’s audited report: All the gold that was used…29 talents and 730 shekels; silver…1,775 shekels; copper…70 talents and 2,400 shekels. The precise use for these precious metals was then delineated.

According to the Code of Jewish Law, a גַּבַּאי צְדָקָה—gabbai tzedakah, a person who collects for, and maintains, a public charity, should never attend to public funds alone, but must always be accompanied by two or three others, to ensure public accountability. This rule is most likely based on Moses’ reckoning of the Mishkan contributions as reported in our portion.

Honesty and integrity, of course, play a major role in the Jewish religion. The probity of leaders, who serve as role models for the rest of the community, is especially expected to be beyond reproach. It is quite likely, that in all of Jewish history not a single great scholar was regarded as a scoundrel or dishonest person. This, was not true of the kings of Israel, and, of course, is not true in secular life today. A person can be considered a great expert or scholar in his/her field, and yet may be gravely lacking proper values in other aspects of life, even to the point of decadence or evil. In fact, in Judaism, it seems as if one’s scholarship is not at all regarded, unless the scholar is of truly upstanding character.

A person’s honesty and integrity can make a huge impression on other people’s lives. A Jew, especially an observant Jew, who is scrupulously honest, is regarded as a מְקַדֵּשׁ שֵׁם שָׁמַיִם —M’ka’desh Shaym Shamayim, as sanctifying God’s name, because of the positive impact he/she may have on others.