* Translation by Yehoshua Siskin
1. This week’s Torah portion includes two parashot -- *Va’Yakhel and Pekudei* -- that conclude the book of Exodus. We will read both parashot in the synagogue on Shabbat.
2. The book that began with the Exodus from Egypt ends with the building of the Mishkan (sanctuary), the spiritual center of the people during their journey through the desert. This transition is important. *Leaving Egypt physically and crossing the Red Sea are meaningless without leaving Egypt spiritually as well.* And this spiritual change is represented by the Mishkan. The true Exodus from slavery to freedom leaves Egyptian idolatry behind and finds expression in the spiritual service of Aharon HaKohen in the Mishkan.
3. The Torah devotes around 30 verses to the creation of the world and 400 verses to the construction of the MIshkan. Our commentators explain that the focus of *the Torah is not God's creation of the world, but what human beings do in the world that God created*, and how they fulfill their divinely ordained mission.
4. At the conclusion of the Torah reading in the synagogue during the morning prayer, many congregations proclaim: *"Chazak, chazak, venitchazeik"* (Be strong. Be strong. And may we be strengthened.) This is a call to be strengthened in continuing to study the Torah. Indeed, during the Minchah prayer, we always get a taste of the next parasha which, in this case, is a taste of Vayikra (Leviticus), the next book of the Torah.
5. This Shabbat is called *"Shabbat Mevarchim"* (the Shabbat when we bless). It is a Shabbat when a special prayer is said for the new month which begins the following week. In this case,the new month is that of Nissan which will commence next Thursday.
Shabbat shalom and have a good month.
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