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[Dvar Torah] Pekudei

This week’s parashah, Parshat Pekudei, refers to the “amounts'' of materials used in the completed Mishkan - Tabernacle. Materials were collected from donations contributed by the Israelites. The Mishkan served as a traveling home for the two tablets and a haven for G-d. Because of its supreme importance, Moses examined the list of materials to ensure they were of good quality. After the work was complete and the Mishkan erected, G-d entered the Temple as a cloud, filling the whole space and forcing the priests to leave. The Israelites could enter once G-d disappeared. 

After taking inventory of the donations, G-d then commanded Moses to anoint Aaron and his sons to become priests. G-d tells Moses, “And you shall anoint them as you anointed their father.” The question can be posed, why does it need to say as you anointed their father?

Rabbi Meir Simcha HaCohen states “When Moses was told to anoint his brother Aaron, he was able to do it with a complete heart”. Moses, the younger brother, was the leader of the Israelites and was happy that his brother was the High Priest. However, regarding Aaron's sons, the situation was different. Moses' own sons were not going to succeed him as leaders. So, when it came to anointing Aaron's sons, Moses might have felt envy.  G-d considered that  Moses might be envious of them rather than being happy for them so he commanded him to anoint them as joyously as he anointed their father. Moses remained unwavering in following G-d’s commands and he anointed Aaron’s sons with great joy. 

Going back to the fact that Moses could have felt envy for not having his sons as priests, Ben Zoma in Pirkei Avot - Ethics of the Fathers says “Who is rich? He who rejoices in his lot”. The way to avoid envy is focusing on your own role. Moses had an important role and focused on that instead of being envious of Aaron’s sons. Another way to be less envious is to think about the greater mission of serving G-d. When you think about the greater mission it helps to avoid being caught up in who has more. 

On our recent educational visits, we saw the children in school, who, while maybe having less possessions than us, did not show any envy and were very happy. Some of them had very difficult circumstances but they did not show any sign of being unhappy. We did also encounter however tourist scammers: they were clearly not happy with their lot. 

We all reflected to acknowledge our highlights on this visit, in the same way that  Moses did for the list of materials for the Temple. The souvenirs we brought back home help us recall our experience. However, it is essential that we cherish the things we have and focus on how fortunate we are and this will help us be happier and less envious.

Shabbat Shalom,

Natalie, Grade 11