This Shabbat, we will conclude our reading of the Book of Exodus. In it, there are two significant national activities that take place: Revelation at Sinai and the building of the Mishkan, Tabernacle. When reflecting on the experience of the Israelites in both of them, one sees the need for a shared vision, cohesive leadership, clear communication, and strong community. Revelation at Sinai was a challenging moment because of its disjointed nature.
Moses was up on the mountain with God and the people were anxiously wondering about what would come next. The Israelites did not yet have the benefit of the Torah that would guide their
lives going forward. Separated from their leader, they built the Golden Calf. In contrast, Pekudei summarizes the dedication of the Mishkan. Moses was successful in bringing the project to completion because the entire nation was engaged in the construction, individuals were able to give of their resources voluntarily and experts like Betzalel oversaw the execution and details of the project. It was truly a communal effort.
It’s hard not to think of the bravery and cohesion of the Ukrainian people and their leader when reading this account. For their strength grows out of their shared passion for their country, commitment to democracy and confidence in their leader, as President Volodymyr Zelensky stands with his people.
Pekudei marks the end of the Book of Exodus, and when the last word is chanted, the entire congregation recites in unison Chazak Chazak V’nitchazek, be strong, be strong, and we will strengthen one another. May we all find ways to support those in need, including the several hundred thousand Ukrainian Jews–which includes several thriving Conservative/Masorti synagogue communities, including one in Odessa which I was privileged to visit just three years ago.