This week’s parshah, Pekudei, sees the completion of the Mishkan, the portable Tabernacle that serves as G-d’s dwelling place amongst the Israelites as they travel. Moses does a little accounting (hey, he’s the executive director of a non-profit organization, it’s in the job description!), and all of the pieces are brought together to be erected.
Here’s where we see two things that are pretty special.
First, Moses gets a special honor. Moshe hadn’t been involved with the actual construction of the Tabernacle. While he had relayed instructions to Bezalel, the “General Contractor” appointed by G-d, Moses didn’t actually get a chance to physically get in there and get his hands dirty like all of the other Israelites. Knowing this, Hashem gives Moses a special opportunity. According to Rashi, the workmen brought the pieces to Moses.
When Moses saw how heavy all the pieces were, he exclaimed, “How am I going to lift his whole thing up?”
G-d told him, “Don’t worry! You just do your best, I will do the rest.”
So Moses moved to lift the Tabernacle, and the it raised up by itself!
What does this mean? Hashem is telling us that when there is work to be done in G-d’s honor, what really matters is that we try. As long as we make an attempt, we win. Especially when it comes to creating a holy space for G-d to dwell, there is no failing in the service of Hashem.
Secondly, Pekudei speaks about the anointing and blessing of Aaron and his sons as priests. The Torah says, “and so shall it be that their anointment shall be for them for eternal priesthood for their generations” (Shemos/Exodus 40:15). Haamek Dvar (a commentary on the Torah by Rabbi Naftali Tzvi Yehuda Berlin of Voloshin), tells us that before this time the blessing given to the priests had only been for them, and was not passed on to their children, but now the blessings extends to them and the generations that follow.
Inherited holiness? What does that even mean?
I understand this to mean that the capacity for holiness is inherent in all creation. We all have the potential to be holy and create holiness in others. What gets passed on is the key to unlock this potential. Jewish tradition is one that passes on the secrets of unlocking this holiness, so we have an obligation to those around us and the generations that follow to be an example of that holiness, and show the world that we all have the capacity to be holy, and we all hold the key. The real secret is that we don’t have the key for our own potential! Our key can only unlock the heart of another! Just as the Israelites couldn’t build the Tabernacle one by one, they had to help each other, so do we have to help each other realize their potential for holiness. It is only in helping others that we can truly help ourselves.