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Vayak’heil P’kudei

Double Sidrah of Biblical “Legos,” Fabrics, Equipment, and Instructions for Assembly. SHIR KI Returns to Verizon Hall!

We have arrived at the end of Sefer Sh’mot, the Book of Exodus. In Synagogues around the world, two Torah portions are read this coming Shabbat morning. We have learned that there are fifty weeks in the Jewish calendar modified lunar year. But there are 54 Sidrot/Torah portions. On four Shabbat mornings, we are therefore required to read two portions in order that we can finish reading the complete five books of the Torah in one year’s time. This coming weekend is one of these double portion Shabbatot!

The first of our two portions, Vayak’heil, contains detailed building instructions for building the Mishkan, the desert Tabernacle. Moses has returned from the summit of Mount Sinai to the Israelite camp carrying a second set of tablets containing the Ten Commandments.  His face radiates with a divine and joyous glow as he teaches the people. He assembles the people: “Moses then CONVOKED the whole Israelite community and said to them: On six days work may be done, but on the seventh day you shall have a Sabbath of complete rest, holy to the Eternal….” (35:1-2). After teaching the commandment to observe the Shabbat faithfully, reiterating the fourth of the Ten Commandments, Moses begins his instructions to the Israelites to bring together the supplies needed to assemble the Mishkan/Tabernacle that will be carried by the Israelites as they travel through the wilderness.

Then follows a long list of supplies, materials, fabrics, clasps, planks, bars, posts, sockets, all needed to assemble the Ark, furniture, and the Tabernacle. Directions are provided to assemble the table, the altar, the utensils, the furnishings, fuel for the required torches, jewelry, yarn, skins, and wooden planks. All this equipment was to be carried through the desert and re-assembled each time the Israelites made a new camp. The Ark was fabricated by Bezalel, the artist, from acacia wood, as was the table.

These meticulous directions continue in the Sidrah of P’kudei. There are additional instructions about the fabrication of the vestments to be worn by the priests, as they conduct the sacrificial service each time a new camp is established.

So many of the objects described in these two Sidrot/portions are found in our main sanctuary to this day, and in Synagogues around the world; the ark; the table; the multi-colored curtain covering the ark; the breast plates worn by the priests, in our time adorning the Torah scrolls. The vestments described in the Sidrah to be worn by the priests are now worn by the Rabbi and Cantor when they lead us in prayer.

The commandment to observe Shabbat, first mentioned in the Ten Commandments, is repeated at the very beginning of the Torah portion, followed by all the detailed instructions and supplies specified by G-d in order to fabricate and assemble the portable Sanctuary. One contemporary commentator discussed the joy that Moshe must have experienced both with weekly Shabbat observance and with the completion of this huge building project. There is a prayer found in the Shabbat service entitled “Yismach Moshe…and Moses rejoiced at the gift of his destiny…two Tablets did he bring down, inscribed with Shabbat observance.”

The portion of Pekudei, and the Book of Exodus, ends with the completion of the assembly of the Tabernacle of Meeting.

Our grandson, Micah, loves to fabricate vehicles, vessels, buildings, and tools from Legos! I love to watch him assemble his Lego pieces into new and intriguing shapes and sizes. Maybe I can encourage him and his father to build a Lego model of the Tabernacle based on the detailed descriptions found in this week’s double portion of Vayak’heil and Pe’kudei!

Shir Ki Returns to Verizon Hall for Israel 75 Concert and Celebration on Wednesday Evening, April 26.

Our wonderful volunteer choir, SHIR KI, will return to the Verizon Hall stage of the Kimmel Center on Wednesday, April 26, at 8:00 p.m. Our singers will be part of a large chorus of 175 singers from Jewish choirs throughout the Delaware Valley. We are preparing a joyous and celebratory program in honor of Israel 75. Our repertoire is comprised of songs written during the past 75 years of Modern Israel, including such timeless songs as Yerushalayim Shel Zahav, Oseh Shalom, and Hallelujah. We shall encourage the audience to sing with us!

We shall join together with the Israeli star Noa. Noa has sung in over 53 countries! She is a wonderful representative of the State of Israel. She sings, plays drums, dances, and radiates great joy from her Israeli heritage.

I am so honored to serve as conductor and music director of this program.

The OYR Kehilah is arranging bus transportation for concert goers. Contact the Kehilah of Old York Road for additional information. Tickets are on sale at the Verizon Hall box office website. Enter OYRK15 at checkout to receive a discount on your purchase. Order your tickets NOW!

My family and I wish all our KI family Shabbat Shalom U’m’vorach!