Moishe & Family: Accountants and Auditors
Parshas Pikudei, which we will read this week, contains a posik (verse) describing the Yiddin in a way that you will mistama not find anywhere else in the gantze Toirah. The Yiddin had, after three months of hocking, klopping and banging, finally completed the work of building the Mishkan (Tabernacle). And then, we read azoy (Shemois 39: 32, 43): “So all the work on the Mishkan, the tent of meeting, was completed. The Israelites did everything just as the Lord commanded Moishe … Moishe inspected the work and saw that they had done it just as the RBSO had commanded. So Moishe blessed them.”
OMG: can you imagine this concept? The Yiddin mamish followed orders and did everything commanded of them? Where else will we find such behavior other than in this parsha? Nowhere! Ober not to worry, some of these very Yiddin did a big no-no by suspecting Moishe of theft, say it’s not so please. We’ll cover that below. Anyway, pat yourselves on the back: with the reading this coming shabbis of Parsha Pikudei, we’re about to complete Sefer Shemois. We will also say goodbye to Betzalel, one of the Toirah’s good-guys and heroes. And taka just last Friday, while getting a shtikel haircut, a chaver in the next seat turned and asked why it was that we never hear from Betzalel again in the rest of the heylige Toirah. He suddenly appears and is charged with the entire Mishkan project and then after this shabbis, he’s gone. Ober he answered his own question by suggesting that even Moishe Rabaynu couldn’t get the contractor to come back!!
This is also the Oisvorfer’s 4th time completing Sefer Shemois with his readers. Though only seven days have passed since last shabbis, in Toirah time, three months have gone by. The construction project is nearing an end, and all the parts of theMishkan are done. We will soon stop learning about the Mishkan which has been mentioned in the last 5 parshas but is the focus of three. The Yiddin got the blueprints and design back in Parshas Terumah, the actual construction was recounted last week in Vayakhel, and this week, the Mishkan, after several attempts, will finally be assembled, erected and the various vessels installed. Ober not so fast! Seemingly the Yiddin had trouble getting it up. They did? What to do?
Did we just read that it took several attempts to erect the Mishkan? Indeed we did and taka sadly, Moishe too, had trouble getting it to stand as we will learn just below. Says the heylige Toirah, they brought the Tabernacle to Moishe… And to repeat from above, Moishe saw all the work, and, behold, they had done it as the RBSO had commanded, and Moishe blessed them. Ober says Rashi quoting the Medrish (Tanchuma 11) azoy: 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, if you chap. Oy vey. What went wrong? Seemingly, when it was time to actually erect the mishkan, the weight of the kerashim, the wooden uprights, made the task virtually impossible. Seemingly too much wood can also cause issues, if you chap. They brought it to Moishe. He asked the RBSO how it was possible for a human being to erect it. Said the RBSO that Moishe should try as hard as he could; you do your part, he was told. It will appear that you are lifting it, but, in fact, it will stand up on its own. Nu, as you can only imagine, Moishe had yet another question. The Medrish continues: Moishe asked: “What should I do?” Answer: “Moishe, waive your hands, make motions with your body as if you’re putting up the Mishkan – I’ll do the rest!” Nu, waving of the hands does usually do the trick, if you chap.
Ober even more perplexing is this medrish (Tanchuma Parshas Pikudei: 11) which tells us azoy: for a week prior to the official dedication and inauguration of the Mishkan, Moishe assembled and disassembled it each day. He did? Said Rebe Chiya, he did this twice daily ober said Rebe Chanina, he did it three times daily, seven consecutive days, for a total of twenty one times.
Efsher you’re klerring azoy…. We just learned that Moishe had trouble getting it up to begin with and shtlet zich di shaylo (the question arises): Why didn’t Moishe build it once and leave it standing? Taka an excellent question ober says the Ramban that efsher this was done as a simple training exercise for the Levi’im (Levites) whose responsibilities included getting the Mishkan ready for travel during the Midbar excursion. Ober why as many as twice or even three times daily?
Said Rebe Chiya bar Yoisef that Moishe assembled and disassembled it twice a day. Those two times allude to the two stages of the day, morning and evening. Times in life when things are bright and getting even brighter and the times in life when things are dark and getting even darker. Both times have their dangers and their opportunities; the danger of disassembly and the potential for assembly. And his lesson: No matter how dark things seem to be getting, no matter how many days have already turned to night, there is always a morning that follows that night. No matter how bad you are, and seemingly at times, that can be pretty bad, one can always stage a comeback.
Ober said the Slonimer Rebbe (Nesivois Sholom Pekudei p.279) azoy: the inability to erect the Mishkan was a life lesson. In real life, there are inevitable setbacks, many. 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 is in not becoming disheartened at the seemingly endless process of back-and-forth implied by this daily cycle of up and down. Seemingly, up and down is a good thing. The lesson Moishe taught was that no matter how much time we have invested in our development and no matter how frustrating the setbacks may be-we must never despair. It’s all in a day’s work. Rather, we must return immediately to rebuild what we have lost. Moreover, such setbacks serve a positive and constructive purpose. By constantly assembling and disassembling our personal and inner temples we have the opportunity to look into the recesses of our souls and check to make sure that everything is of the best quality and on the highest level. Each time we rebuild, the finished product is that much better. Gishmak mamish and shabbis tish worthy.
Let’s try another potential answer as to why Moishe built and dismantled the Mishkan daily. Said the Meiyana Shel Toirah quoting the Imrei Emes azoy: the Mishkan that we have been hearing about for the last five weeks, was but its first iteration. Historically there were to be seven such structures. Mamish? After the Yiddin crossed the Jordan, one was erected in the Gilgal followed by the one in Shiloi. Those were followed by the Mishkaans (temples) in Nov and Givoin and those were followed by the two Batei Mikdash (Holy Temples) in Yerusholayim. Each day Moishe taught the Yiddin how they were to rebuild the Temple following its predecessor’s destruction. Seemingly, Moishe knew that the Yiddin, that very group he praised in the first paragraph, wouldn’t remain on their best behavior for any extended period of time, and that each temple would eventually be destroyed; oy vey. Moishe’s efforts were therefore twofold in nature. On the general level he informed the Yiddin that there would be spiritual revivals following spiritual lapses. He also taught them the particulars as to how to go about rebuilding the Temple following its destruction. Also gishmak.
Nu, let’s get back to the accounting. As typically happens when a project draws to a close, it’s time to see how the money was spent. Were there cost overruns? Was the contractor a big gonif (crook), how big? Were you ripped off and by how much? And here too, it’s time to give an accounting of the various items donated to the project. Seemingly the donors, a portion of them, as we will soon learn, wanted answers as to where all the precious items went. Surely you will recall that the Yiddin made huge donations of gold, silver copper and other sundry items but when it comes to precious metals, or cash, seemingly people wanted an accounting. Shoin, and who better than a Jewish accountant to prepare the numbers? No one! Shoin, the gantze accounting and auditing professions were born right here in this very parsha; a profession that has historically attracted many Yiddin. Why not? If accounting was good enough for Moishe Rabaynu, it should be good for you as well. Shoin! The RBSO had a job plan and its results are felt ad hayoim hazeh!
Says the heylige Toirah: “These are the accounts of the Mishkan, the Mishkan of the Testimony, as they were counted by Moishe’scommand…” Remember these words; they will require some explanation.
Why was Moishe giving an accounting of the materials collected? Was he the contractor? Shouldn’t Betzalel, the general contractor, the person charged with using the materials and handling the goods, have been called upon to give this accounting? Moishe was merely handing over the goods to Betzalel and his assistant. What was taka the primary reason for Moishe’s detailed accounting of the costs of the Mishkan? Was Moishe under suspicion? Seemingly, yes. At least by some. Nu, believe it or not, though Moishe just saved the Yiddin from complete obliteration following the Eygel incident, seemingly he wasn’t trusted by all. Say our wise sages azoy: apparently there were some who suspected that Moishe might have been on the take – chas v’sholom, say it’s not so- and that he efsher pocketed some of their contributions for his own use. Maybe his hot shiksa Midianite eishes chayil or his Kushite other wife, or both, were making demands. Efsher he needed to adorn them with jewels, ver veyst. Outlandish and outrageous as these accusations appear, there are a handful 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.
Says the Balei Toisfis, that Moishe was suspected of stealing money from the Mishkan. Seemingly there were 16 Shekalim which were unaccounted for, and Moishe was the prime suspect. And says Chazal (our Sages) that the accounting therefore was actually taken from Moishe; he needed to clear his good name by opening the books. During the accounting review, it was discovered that the 16 Shekalim were actually used in the construction of the hooks of the Mishkan. Still one remains baffled that anyone would suspect Moishe of stealing lechatchila (to begin with) and moreover, from the holy Mishkan project, the place where the RBSO was going to make His home on earth. Moreover these same people saw Moishe go up the mountain and come down with the heylige Toirah, they saw him lead them out of Mitzrayim, it was a generation that was living miracles daily; how then could they suspect Moishe of petty thievery for the seemingly missing 16 shekalim? The emes is that there is no answer. Seemingly the RBSO chapped and avada He did that this generation wasn’t all that worthy; in the end, they all died out in the Midbar. Seemingly they took Moishe for granted; efsher we can klerr that living with greatness in their proximity dulled their senses, they didn’t appreciate what they had. Ver veyst.
Seemingly, a lowly review of the books would not suffice; it appears that a full audit was called for. And who better to bring in to verify your numbers but your own nephew? 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. Moishe retained the services of Isomor ben Aharoin (Itamar) 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). In the end, Moishe’s hands were avada clean; he was the trusted Eved Hashem (servant of the RBSO). Moishe, with the help of a heavenly voice, did account for every single coin and article contributed for the project. Avada we learn from this the importance of not judging another person too hastily, but do we?
Nu, now that we have both the accounting and audit to verify, let’s taka see how much was collected for the Mishkan project and how it was used. And while numbers and accounting aren’t too exciting, when you hear about the vast amounts of gold the Yiddin donated to this project and that’s after using a hefty amount on the Eygel project, you will zicher be impressed by the enormity of the project. Moreover this exercise will have finally resolved a question that has been bothering many for thousands of years. Why do we taka eat matzo on Pesach?
Well, that’s not the strongest question because we avada know the answer. We eat matzo because the heylige Toirah tells us that the Yiddin didn’t have time to bake the bread, there was no time for the yeast to rise. And as a result, a new matzo gisheft (business) was born that is worth hundreds of millions of dollars each year. And why didn’t they have time? Because there were being chased out of Mitzrayim? Nu, a nechtiger tug (fugetaboutitt)! They had no time because they were busy looting the Mitzrim. They left Mitzrayim with lots of talent, talents of gold that is, and other things. And given the choice between a well baked pita bread and solid 24 karat gold, the choice was quite obvious.
Nu, we ask you azoy: 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 wealth 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 that the holy women had used to seduce their husbands and which were later donated to the cause. Zicher now we understand why they had no time to bake the bread; who cared about bread! Perhaps we are 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?
Nu, speaking of accounting and audits, let’s look at the books 29 kikar or talents and 730 shekels of gold were donated; seemingly the Yiddin were in a giving mood after they found the RBSO, post Eygel myseh, in a forgiving one. What the hec is a talent? Nu, it’s not the same talent you chazerrim (swine) pay for when you’re on the road. A “talent” is approximately 150 lbs, or 3,000 shekels which is well over a ton of gold, efsher closer to two. In plain English, the donated gold cameto 2,210.54lb or 1,002.93kg! In more plain English and in today’s values, the donated gold was worth hundreds of millions. How was all this gold used? 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 (Poroiches), screens and the Koihen Godol’s (High Priest’s) garments.
Though the silver count showed 100 talents and 1,775 shekels, none of it was donated. Instead, the silver was collected from the half-shekel redemption fee (tax), for the census we covered a few weeks back.603,550 men of draftable age, each paying half a shekel produced 15,000 pounds of silver which was used to make the 100 foundation sockets that held up the Mishkan’s wall panels and posts. The 1,775 shekels, the loose change, were used for the hooks and trimmings on the 60 posts that held up the walls-hangings which enclosed the courtyard. Efsher the origins of the term socked’ away, ver veyst. Ober when it came to the accounting, Moishe suddenly couldn’t recall where and how the 1775 shekels were used. Says the medrish (Shemois Rabbah 51:4): Moishe forgot but was saved when a Bas Koil [heavenly voice] revealed that they were used for the Vuvim (hooks) of the Amudim (pillars) that surrounded the Courtyard and kept their curtains in place.
Said the Kotzker Rebbe azoy: the reason Moishe could not remember what the remaining 1,775 Shekels were used for was because the 3,550 people that donated (1/2 shekel each), did so without the proper Kavanah [intention]. Ober the RBSO told Moishe that these Yiddin count as well. That even these inferior contributions were used for the Mishkan project and that these silver funds were sued specifically as hooks for the pillars to demonstrate that those Yiddin who lack proper Kavanah on their own should attach themselves to the ‘pillars’ of Toirah within their Jewish Communities. Gishmak.
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.
We conclude Sefer Shemois with ‘Chazak Chazak V’NisChazayk’ [be strong, be strong, and may we be strengthened]. Interestingly enough, the numerical value of ‘Chazak’ [strong] is 115. By referencing this concept three times, we arrive at a total of 345, the Gematria of the name Moishe, who of course was the great leader of the Yiddin, also an honest fellow.
A gitten shabbis and Chazak, Chazak V’nischazek.” – Let us be strong, let us be strong and let us strengthen others as well.
The Oisvorfer Ruv