Praying together
Praying together Photo: JCT

Numerophobes can skip this first paragraph. Contains harmless statistics. Of the seven pairs of sedras that are read separately sometimes and combined at others, four deal with the one or two Adar years. Vayakhel and P'kudei are joined in a 1-Adar year except in one rare year type. They are combined just about 60% of the time, in which case they are also HaChodesh (or less commonly, Para). They are read separately in all 2-Adar years (and in that one rare 1-Adar year mentioned above). When read alone (like this year), P'kudei is usually a Hafsaka, not one of the Four Parshiyot (26.3% of the time). Occasionally, though, it is Sh'kalim or Sh'kalim & Rosh Chodesh Adar Sheni. P'kudei is the only sedra that is ALWAYS within the range of the Four Parshiyot.

For this Lead Tidbit, I want to reconnect Vayakhel and P'kudei and see then as the one large sedra dealing with the building of the Mishkan and everything in and about it.

And for that, I want to go back the the first and fourth p'sukim of Vayakhel. Remember, I don't consider the following point to be a week out of date; I'm thinking of super-sedra Vayakhel-P'kudei.

Note whom Moshe is addressing - both when he is reviewing or re-presenting Shabbat, within the short three-pasuk portion, and when he speaks of Mishkan and all that goes with it, in the lengthy 211-pasuk portion that concludes the book of Sh'mot.
He is addressing KOL ADAT B'NEI YISRAEL, the entire community of Israel.

KOL ADAT B'NEI YISRAEL - same. Number of p'sukim, vastly different. But let's get past that by allowing the Oral Law and Tradition the equalize the two topics. The Mishna in Chagiga (1:8 q.v. - that's the abbreviation of the Latin quod vide, which means, which see) tells us that the number of p'sukim and detail devoted to the different mitzvot do not indicate importance.

Next comes two similar expressions, which are really very different.
EILEH HAD'VARIM, these asre the things, that G-d commanded to be done. That is in the context of the Shabbat.
ZEH HADAVAR, this is the thing, which G-d commanded... This is in the context of Mikdash, the construction of everything related to the Mishkan.

Shabbat - plural; Mikdash - singular.
Let's look at another example of the same difference.
Count the Omer - USFARTEM LACHEM... you, plural, count. That's in Emor.

One sedra later, B'har, we find the mitzva to count Sh'mita cycles, and Yovel years - V'SAFARTA L'CHA, and you - singular, shall count.
Moshe is speaking to us, the people of Israel. But sometimes we are each individual Jews, each commanded to keep the Torah and Mitzvot. That's when plural is used.
We are each, also, part of Klal Yisrael. A singular unit, also with Mitzvot. Both identities are who we are. Neither should negate the other.

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