In the Eye of the Hurricane: HaRav Nachman Kahana on Parashat Vayak’hel-Pikudei
By Rabbi Nachman Kahana
The last five parshiot of the Book of Shemot are: Teruma, Tetzaveh, Ki Tisa, Vayak’hel and Pekudai.
Teruma and Tetzaveh, deal with the Mishkan and its implements. The third – parashat Ki Tisa interrupts the sequence and describes the events of the iniquitous, disastrous episode of the Aigel Hazahav (the Golden Calf). And the last two – Vayak’hel and Pekudai, return to the subject of the Mishkan and its implements.
The schematic breakdown of the parshiot is: Mishkan, Mishkan, tragic episode of idolatry, Mishkan, Mishkan. Why did the Torah interrupt the sequence of the Mishkan with the episode of the Aigel Hazahav?
The Torah, through the sequence of these five parshiot, was informing the Jewish people of what awaited them in the future.
The instructions in parashat Teruma allude to the 479 years of the Mishkan before the Bet Hamikdash was established in Yerushalayim: 39 years in the desert, 14 years at Gilgal, 369 years at Shilo, and 57 years in Nov and Givon.
Tetzaveh alludes to the 410 years of the Bet Hamikdash of King Shlomo on the Temple Mount.
The disastrous, sinful act of idolatry in parashat Ki Tisa alludes to the destruction of King Shlomo’s Bet Hamikdash for reasons of idolatry and the 70 years of exile.
Parashat Vayak’hel alludes to the Bet Hamikdash built by Ezra and the Jews who returned with him from Babylon and Persia.
Parashat Pekudai alludes to the magnificent Bet HaMikdash built by Hordus (Herod).
The Temples of Ezra and Hordus stood for 420 years before being destroyed by the Romans and the subsequent 2000-year exile of the Jewish people from our holy land. This tragic period of death and destruction in the galut of our physical, religious and moral being is alluded to by the break between the books of Shemot and Vayikra.
Vayikra also called Torat Kohanim (the Kohanic laws) alludes to the return of Am Yisrael to the Holy Land and the rebuilding of the Bet HaMikdash which will usher in the long awaited Messianic period.
Am Yisrael is now standing at the threshold of the new age of the book of Vayikra, and HaShem’s miracles in Eretz Yisrael are announcing: “Prepare – it is not far off.”
The present time is one for profound celebration, for it is ushering in the beginning of our redemption and salvation. After 2000 years of unspeakable calamities to our nation, HaShem has recognized and honors the unflinching loyalty of His people and has returned us to our ancient Holy Land. To remain true to the Torah after the Shoah is worthy of the highest rewards by our Father in Heaven.
He has restored our sovereignty over a large part of Eretz Yisrael and over Yerushalayim.
He has protected us in times of war and has made us prosperous in times of peace. We are creating a Torah empire here the likes of which has not existed anywhere for over 2000 years.
What is transpiring today in the lands of our enemies is a miraculous sign of HaShem’s protective wing over His children in Eretz Yisrael.
In the Song at the Sea (Shirat Hayam, Shemot 15:7) the survivors sang:
וברב גאונך תהרס קמיך תשלח חרנך יאכלמו כקש
“With Your infinite genius You destroyed those who rose up against You. You unleashed your burning anger; it consumed them like straw”
One would think that instead of: “With Your infinite genius You destroyed those who rose up against You,” the wording should be:
With Your infinite strength You destroyed those who rose up against You
But indeed, “With Your infinite genius” is absolutely more accurate. Because it describes how Hashem, in His infinite genius, time and again frustrates the diabolical plans of our enemies in ways which are totally unpredictable, yet keeps His hidden presence intact.
Just consider what is happening in our region so suddenly and unexpectedly.
The Arabs will be fighting each other for years to come. Sunnis vs. Shiites and both against the Alawis. Arabs against Iranians. Libyans against each other. Christian Copts vs. Moslems in Egypt. Everyone against everyone in Lebanon and Syria. The Sunnis of Iraq against the Shiites of Iraq and all of them against the Kurds. The Turks against the Kurds, and the former Southern Moslem states of the USSR against Russia and against themselves. The flood of Arab refugees from North Africa into Europe, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco, Yemen, Bahrain, Oman, Somalia and more.
And within the midst of all this, in the Eye of the hurricane, stands the tiny State of Israel – prosperous and happy in the knowledge that HaShem has spread over us His holy cloud of protection, as in the time of our forefathers’ sojourn in the desert.
Indeed, the greatest of life’s experiences is to be a Jew living today in Eretz Yisrael.