Parshat Pekuday–Parshat Shekalim
(Exodus 38:21-40:38), (Exodus 30 :11-16)
(Haftara: Melachim II, 11:17-12:17)
1. When the Temple was destroyed, and the Temple service ceased, prayer took the place of animal sacrifice. Some of our rabbis believe that prayer is a higher form of service than the animal sacrifices. If that is true, then why were animal sacrifices commanded at all?
2. Our tradition tells us that God is everywhere. We are also taught that God is more present on the Temple Mount and even more present in the “Holy of Holies”. What does it mean that God is more present? Where in our daily lives is God more present and where is God less present?
3. [40:24] “Put the menorah in the tabernacle…” The Sfat Emet (1847-1905, Poland) says that the oil of the menorah represents the human mind—lucid and clear consciousness. Is the mind the same as the soul (neshama)? Do the mind and heart (emotions) together make up the soul? What is the soul?
4. [Shabbat shekalim: Shmot 30:15] “The wealthy will not give more, and the poor will not give less…” On Shabbat shekalim, we read in the Torah about how everyone must give half a shekel for the tabernacle. The rabbis see this as a commandment that shows that everyone is equal. That is, in God’s eyes everyone is equal. However, our tradition tells us that God values the humble, the honest, and the compassionate person more than others. In what way is everyone equal in God’s eyes?
5. [Haftara: Melachim II, 11:17] “Yehoiada made a covenant between God and the king and the people…” We don’t have real kings today in the world. The closest that we have is an absolute dictator. When we say that God is our king, what qualities of God are we referring to?
Why do our rabbis tell us to read Parshat Shekalim now even though we have no Temple and we have no animal sacrifices?
The Sfat Emet – R. Yehuda Arye Leib of Ger tells us that all the sacrifices were accepted because of the spirit of selflessness and sacrifice that one had for the service of God, and that spirit is still very much present in the Jewish people to-day. In fact, this feeling is even stronger to-day. Because we yearn so much for holiness, we are more willing to give ourselves over to the service of God.
— Sfat Emet – R. Yehuda Aryeh Leib of Góry Kalwarii
This study page is dedicated to the memory of Sarah Bella bat Yitzchak Kummer, Chaim Yosef Yechiel ben Eliyahu Kummer and Eliyahu and Margaret Kummer