Ordinary and Extraordinary – Parshat Pekudei 5784

As much as I’m completely over Daylight Saving Time and ready to just stick with one time and be done with it, the twice-yearly shift does serve one valuable purpose for me. As a creature of habit, I thrive on routine, and this jarring, sudden change is enough to short-circuit my autopilot, at least temporarily. Otherwise, I don’t tend to notice certain changes until they knock me over the head.

For example, I often walk the loop of my neighborhood. It’s a path I know so well that I don’t have to think about it. I’m aware of my surroundings, so I see other people and cars, but my feet know the route intimately enough that I don’t always watch where I’m going because my body just goes. Zoning out can be helpful, but it also means I can miss the little things like buds appearing on the trees in spring or leaves disappearing on the trees in fall. At some point, it will hit me (not literally the tree) and all of a sudden I’m in awe of this beautiful place.

This is the difference between being merely present and having an encounter. You can be present as you experience the natural, ongoing, slowly changing world, but it’s the encounters that wow you and grab your attention. As our Torah reading this week teaches us, both are necessary and holy.

Parshat Pekudei brings to a close the book of Exodus. During this book, we’ve read about the encounters the Israelites had with God at Mount Sinai and in the desert, as well as about the sacred spaces they were asked to create for God. The parshah itself deals with the final judgments about who will work on the Tabernacle (the Mishkan) and what the priests are supposed to wear. Finally, the text takes up the building and establishment of the Mishkan.

As we end the book of Exodus we find that the Israelites have created two embodiments of holiness in the Israelite camp: the Tent of Meeting (Ohel Moed) and the Mishkan. The Ohel Moed is a place to be present. On the other hand, the Mishkan, the sacred space where God will dwell among the Israelites, travels with the Israelites and is often at the center of moments of awe and wonder. In other words, God has asked the Israelites to create routine reminders of God’s presence but not to become oblivious to the extraordinary moments when they happen.

– Rabbi Eve Posen

Source: Ordinary and Extraordinary – Parshat Pekudei 5784