Let’s talk numbers:
Long before the SEC required public companies to file audited statements, the RBSO instructed Moishe to do an audit of all the gold, silver and copper he collected. And why not: should one person be trusted with all that and not have to account? Isn’t that how people and organizations get Madoff’d? And thus begins this week’s parsha of Pekudai.
As our Parsha opens, three months have gone by and all the parts of the Mishkan are done. The results of the campaign are in: “These are the accounts of the Mishkan, the Mishkan of the Testimony, as they were counted by Moishe’s command…”
Is Moishe under suspicion? What was takah the primary reason for Moishe’s detailed accounting of the costs of the Mishkan? Chazal commented that there were apparently some who suspected that Moishe might have been on the take, if you chap what I’m saying – chas’ v’sholom and that efsher he kept some of their Sanctuary contributions for his own use. Maybe the union gave him a shtikel kickback. There are a plethora of Medroshim that discuss this very issue; seemingly, though the Yiddin were just forgiven for the eygel mishap, still, the troublemakers now turned their attention to Moishe and his stockpiles of gold, etc. Accordingly, he responded by showing one and all that every single coin and article contributed was indeed used for the Mishkan. Avada we learn from this the importance of not judging another person too hastily, but do we?
Mistama you’re wondering why an accounting wasn’t taken from Bezalel and his helpers, wasn’t he the general contractor? Was Moishe singled out for suspicion? Nu, so am I, so let’s see.
The Sages say that the accounting was actually taken from Moishe! Was he epes (somewhat) not trusted? Later in the Novee (Prophets), we will learn about the workers in the first Beis Hamikdash (Melachim II 12:16), “They did not make an accounting with the men into whose hands they gave the money to pay out to the workmen, for they acted with emunah (integrity).” Epes, this possik seems to indicate that back in the day, Moishe’s hands weren’t entirely clean- yikes!! Also, Chazal teach that Moishe could not give a complete accounting, until he was saved by a bas kol (Heavenly proclamation) which had to vouch for him. If so, what was the purpose of even beginning the accounting? Ver veyst? Do I know, was I there? Were You? Frankly I’m not at all pleased even having to read such a disturbing medrish about my hero Moishe, ober (but) what can I do? It’s right there, I’m just repeating the words.
On the other hand- says the Medrish Tanchuma azoy (like this): Always appoint at least two people together as trustees over public funds. Even Moishe Rabaynuu, who enjoyed the full trust of the RBSO–figured the accounts of the Mishkan (Sanctuary) together with others. Thus the chachomim (Sages) taught: the one who made the appropriation [of the monies donated to the Holy Temple] did not enter the chamber wearing either a hemmed cloak or shoes or sandals or tefillin or an amulet (i.e., nothing in which money can be hidden); lest if he became poor people might say that he became poor because of an iniquity committed in the chamber, or if he became rich people might say that he became rich from the appropriation in the chamber. For it is a man’s duty to be free of blame before men as before the RBSO, as it is said: “And be guiltless towards the RBSO and towards Israel.” Seemingly, Moishe Rabaynuu couldn’t catch a break.
Nu, following his own accounting, it’s time for the audit and who better to bring in but your own nephew to verify your own numbers. What a plan and who would suspect? Avada, there were a few cries of foul over nepotism issues, ober that’s what the RBSO said to do. So, Moishe brings in someone totally independent: Itamar ben (son of) Aharoin (his brother) to audit and verify his calculations. Does it get any more independent than one’s own nephew? Moishe does this so no one will suspect him of pocketing any of the nose rings and other interesting donations he received from the veyber (women).
Takah somewhat boring, accounting can be that way- ober- listen to the amounts of gold – silver and copper that the BNY donated to the building of the mishkan and when you realize the enormity of these contributions, zicher you’ll be wondering where the hec all this came from. In the midbar noch der tzi (especially in the desert). And you’ll finally understand why we eat Matzoh on Pesach. Why? Because the BNY had no time to bake the bread on their way out for their extended trip, that’s what the heylige toirah states. Growing up and learning the story of Exodus, didn’t you feel bad for the Yiddin and picture them being chased out of Mitzrayim in the dead of night, carrying whatever possessions they had in their hands or in baskets? And when we read the story of how there was no time for the yeast to rise, didn’t you mamish feel so bad that nebech you wanted to cry? What were they going to eat, those poor lads? Ober, was it really that bad? Did you ever realize what they were carrying with them? Can you even have imagined the tonnage of gold silver and copper they were schlepping along? And let’s not forget the bathroom mirrors. Zicher now we understand why they had no time to bake the bread; who cared about bread?
Why? Because they were looting Mitzrayim- cleaning them out of gold- silver and copper. Nu- given the choice between gold and bread, avada you understand what the Yiddin were thinking. Perhaps a stiff necked people but stupid not! Many loaves of bread, even whole wheat, have been purchased with gold but have you ever bought an ounce of gold with a slice of bread?
Perhaps we should be celebrating Peasch b’zman hazeh (in our times) by looting our neighbor’s houses of gold, silver and cooper and that would takah be a good reason to call the Yoim Toiv- chag somayach. Is it really joyous when we gain 7 pounds because we’re ungeshtuppped (overstuffed) from eating farkakte matzoh? Ok, enough of this.
Let ‘s go to the tote board, the numbers are in. A whopping 29 kikar and 730 shekels of gold. (A kikar is equal to 3000 shekel). A grand total of 87,630 shekels. The Menoirah and the Kapoires (Ark cover) were made of solid gold; the Ark, Table, Golden Altar, and the Mishkan’s wall panels and posts were gold-plated; gold thread was added to the fibers in the roof coverings, Veil (Paroices), screens and the Koihen Godol’s (High Priest’s) garments. As stated above, altogether, the gold of the offering was twenty nine talents, and seven hundred and thirty shekels.
What the hec is a talent? Nu- it’s not the same talent you chazerrim (swine) pay for when you’re on the road- minuvullim that you are. A “talent” is approximately 150 lbs. and that’s what I call talent. The Yiddin got away with 4,350 pounds of gold and that doesn’t take into account a whole lot more that the sea spit out after swallowing up the pursuing Mitzrim (Egyptians). Of course, when the Mitzrim decided to give chase, they loaded up their chariots with gold, silver and copper-isn’t that the way you’re supposed to chase down the enemy? Why not? Sounds good to me.
An incredible 100 kikar and 1775 shekels of silver! A grand total of 301,775 shekels. What does all this mean in dollars and cents? Nu- this I don’t know but in any event, it’s more than chump change. The 100 “kiks” were used to make the 100 Adanim (sockets) – one “kik” per socket. The other 1775 shekels were split between hooks and ornaments. These silver hooks were attached to the pillars in the courtyard to hold up the screens that fenced in the Mishkan. The ornaments decorated the same pillars. Wow! 70 kikar and 2400 shekels of copper! The copper was melted down and used to build the copper Mizbayach (altar), and its utensils, the copper sockets of the entrance and of the courtyard.
The silver for the Mishkan was supplied by the half-shekel tax we learned about a few weeks backs. Each of those who “went to be numbered”: 603,550 men of draftable age, each giving half a shekel. That made 100 talents plus 1,775 shekels of silver, or over 15,000 pounds of silver. The 100 talents were used to make the 100 foundation sockets that held up the Mishkan’s wall panels and posts; the 1,775 shekels were used for the hooks and trimmings on the 60 posts that held up the walls-hangings which enclosed the Courtyard. Mistama the first time money was ‘socked’ away- so to speak. Ok- cheap joke- they can’t all be winners.
The copper totaled 70 talents and 2,400 shekel, and was used to make “the foundation sockets to the entrance of the Tent of Meeting; the copper brazen altar and its copper grate and all the vessels of the altar; the foundation sockets of the court round about and the sockets of the court gate; and all the pegs of the tabernacle and all the pegs of the court round about.” All –in- all, this Midbar situation doesn’t sound so terrible to me. Munn for breakfast, clouds of glory to lead them by day, clouds of fire at night, water from Miriam’s well to drink and gold, silver and copper all over the place- does this lifestyle sound terrible to you? Is this giferlich? Maybe they takah didn’t want to enter the holy land- seemingly the Midbar provided all – even designer clothing for the koihanim.
Now, it’s time to play Lego and put it all together. Presto: it’s 3 months later and all is good to go. And they brought the Tabernacle to Moishe… And Moishe saw all the work, and, behold, they had done it as the RBSO had commanded, even so had they done it; and Moishe blessed them….but…. The Midrash (Tanchuma 11 – quoted by Rashi) says that when the time came to erect the Mishkan, none of the wise craftsmen were able to figure out how to get it to stay standing. They brought the Mishkan to Moishe, but he too couldn’t erect it; seemingly, no one could get it up- oy vey. What went wrong? When it was time to actually erect the mishkan, the weight of the krashim, the wooden uprights, made the task virtually impossible. Seemingly too much wood can also cause issues, especially after four hours, if you chap. They brought it to Moishe. He asked how it was possible for a human being to erect it. He was told to try as hard as he could- you do your part. It will appear that you are lifting it, but, in fact, they will stand up on their own.
Moishe said to the RBSO, “What should I do?” Answer: “Moishe, make motions with your body as if you’re putting up the Mishkan – I’ll do the rest!” grada this sounds woefully familiar, something we nebech experience at home regularly, if you chap.
According to the same Midrash, the Mishkan was erected and dismantled each day (of the Seven Days of Inauguration). According to the opinion of Rabbi Chanina, it was erected and dismantled three times a day! Why? Erecting anything three times daily can be tiring. Why not just get it standing and then leave it that way (at least until the time came to travel)? Takah an excellent question for the shabbis tish but not for now; we’re out of time. The end of the parsha and the end of the entire Sefer of Sehmois (Exodus) are upon us. The Ruv has to get busy studying all the Korboines (sacrifices) we will try to understand in Sefer Vayikra. See you then. Ober before I go, let’s share this one life lesson from the Mishkan.
Raboyseyee and Raboyseyettes: Says the Nesivos Shalom: there are life lessons to be learned from the erection of the Mishkan: that the task of erecting a Mishkan is not something accomplished on one’s first try. One gets one’s “Mishkan” standing, only to suffer a setback, and have it dismantled. He/she tries again, and again gets it standing, perhaps this time even more firmly than before, yet once again, finds it taken apart. Part of the difficulty of its construction, then, is in not becoming disheartened at the seemingly endless process of back-and-forth implied by this daily cycle of up and down. “It’s all in a day’s work.”
A gitten shabbis and Chazak, Chazak V’nischazek.” – Let us be strong, let us be strong and let us strengthen others as well.