Holy Bling

Holy Bling

Mar 12, 2021 By Amy Kalmanofsky | Commentary | Pekudei | Vayak-hel

I loved rummaging through my grandmother’s jewelry. To my child’s eye, her jewelry box was a treasure chest filled with sparkling gems, pearls, and gold. All “paste,” I learned, but to me they were the crown jewels.

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Those Whose Hearts Lift Them

Those Whose Hearts Lift Them

Mar 18, 2020 By Nicole Wilson-Spiro | Commentary | Pekudei | Vayak-hel

When I lived in South Philly, I fell in love with the Mummers, an annual parade and show on New Year’s Day and part of the fabric of the neighborhood throughout the year. Mummers dress in elaborate costumes and “strut” down Broad Street, while playing music and handing out beaded necklaces and New Year’s greetings to enthusiastic crowds. While some Mummers merely enjoy the opportunity to cavort in silly costumes in various stages of drunkenness, other Mummers clubs are intensely competitive, guarding the secret of their yearly themes with a vengeance and working throughout the year to prepare a spectacle.

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Entering the Clouds of Glory

Entering the Clouds of Glory

Mar 8, 2019 By Daniel Nevins | Commentary | Pekudei

“What do you mean, Rabbi? The clouds are mysterious—it’s like being on Sinai!” This statement by a rabbinical student consoled me several years ago on the summit of Giant Mountain in the Adirondacks. Each fall I take a minyan or so of students hiking for the weekend, and on that day, we had spent many hours climbing this enormous peak. On the way up, we enjoyed stunning views—of an alpine lake called “the Giant’s Washbowl” and the Great Range looming across the valley to our south. But when we reached the top of Giant a thick cloud had parked itself on the summit and would not budge. Visibility was limited to about ten feet, and wisps of mist skimmed between us.

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The Give and Take of Strength

The Give and Take of Strength

Mar 9, 2018 By Eliezer B. Diamond | Commentary | Pekudei | Vayak-hel

Rituals of closure are common in both the secular and religious realms. An example of the first is the sounding of retreat and the lowering of the flag marking the end of the official duty day on military installations. An instance of the second is the siyyum, a liturgical ritual and festive meal that is occasioned by the completion of the study of a Talmudic tractate. Closure rituals relate not only to the past but to the future as well. On the one hand, the temporal demarcation of a past event facilitates the emergence of its distinct identity, internal coherence, and significance, thereby providing insight, understanding, and, at times, a sense of accomplishment. At the same time, by declaring an end, a closure ritual creates space in which one can—and must—begin anew; the past is to be neither prison nor refuge.

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The Sanctuary and the Bomb

The Sanctuary and the Bomb

Mar 24, 2017 By Marcus Mordecai Schwartz | Commentary | Pekudei | Vayak-hel

The US gave the codename “Ivy Mike” to its first full-scale experimental thermonuclear device. Designed by of two the century’s most significant nuclear scientists, Stanisław Ulam and Edward Teller, Mike’s design was a strangely beautiful one. As historian Richard Rhodes wrote in Dark Sun: The Making of the Hydrogen Bomb: “Steel, lead, waxy polyethylene, purple-black uranium, gold leaf, copper, stainless steel, plutonium, a breath of tritium, silvery deuterium effervescent as a sea wake: Mike was a temple, tragically solomonic, invoking the powers that fire the sun.”

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Wonderment and Order: A Path to the Heart

Wonderment and Order: A Path to the Heart

Mar 24, 2017 By Arnold M. Eisen | Commentary | Pekudei | Vayak-hel

The Baal Shem Tov posed a question about Parashat Pekudei that I too find most puzzling. Why are we told over and over again—10 times in the course of Exodus chapters 39–40, by my count, in addition to a declaration at the start of Parashat Vayak-hel (35:4)—that the Israelites did all they did for the Tabernacle, gave what they gave, built what they built, “as the Lord had commanded Moses.” Why not just tell us once, at the end of the account, that all they did was done in this way, for this purpose? 

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With God, It’s Complicated . . .

With God, It’s Complicated . . .

Mar 11, 2016 By Rami Schwartzer | Commentary | Pekudei

For a story that began with the promise of intimacy, I had hoped for a happier ending.

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The Call to Find a Mentor and to Mentor Others

The Call to Find a Mentor and to Mentor Others

Mar 11, 2016 By Mark Young | Commentary | Pekudei

In parashat Pekudei, the Israelites are on a journey to a new life, having escaped the Egyptians, experienced the revelation at Sinai, and completed the building of the Tabernacle. They are now in the wilderness, sometimes unclear about their direction, sometimes filled with fear, and in need of guidance. However, they had mentors to guide them. They had the cloud that indicated the Presence of God, and they had Moses on their side.

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Nediv Lev

Nediv Lev

Mar 13, 2015 By Michael R. Boino | Commentary | Pekudei | Vayak-hel

We often think of love as something comfortable, something comforting. The truth is, it can be the exact opposite. True, unbounded love from another source can cause us to confront parts of ourselves with which we are uncomfortable: our vulnerability, our self image, our passive role as the recipient of care rather than as a caregiver.

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Creating I-Thou Moments That Strengthen Relationships, and Communities

Creating I-Thou Moments That Strengthen Relationships, and Communities

Mar 18, 2016 By Stephanie Ruskay | Commentary | Pekudei

Semikhah, ordaining of clergy, is on my mind these days as we move closer to my first JTS ordination as an associate dean. No longer the person receiving semikhah, this time I am privileged to help ordain new clergy.

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