Divrei Torah

PARSHAS PIKUDEI 5779

This week we are completed the Book of Shemos with all of its detail. What is the Torah emphasizing? What is the goal the Torah wants us to achieve? The Book of Shemos contains an enormous amount of information: The Egyptian slavery, the 10 plagues, the Exodus, the splitting of the Red Sea, the miracle of finding water, the manna, G-d giving us the Torah at Mount Sinai, the Golden Calf and the building of the Mishkan. Yet, at the end of the Book of Shemos, the Torah doesn’t mention any of these. It leaves us with an accountant’s report - the little details of what happened to all of the money that the Jewish people donated. It seems like a strange way to end the Book of Shemos.

Rabbi Wein suggested an idea behind the Torah’s conclusion to the Book of Shemos. In Jewish life, we are accountable for everything. We are accountable for all our actions and behaviors. Corruption in money matters is a symptom of a spiritual corruption. If Moshe could not account for every last shekel that was donated to the Mishkan, he couldn’t be the leader of the Jewish people. Only when people are willing to account for everything they do, can they be called leaders. The dangers of not giving a proper accounting, not being particular about all the details, have become quite obvious in our world. G-d has given us several reminders to this idea.

We live in a world where people don’t want to accept responsibility - they don’t want to make an accounting for their actions. I can do what I want . . . my kids can do what they want . . . I can interpret the Torah any way I want. That makes for a very dangerous world because everything then becomes acceptable, even the most immoral and reprehensible behaviors. However, if we accept responsibility for ourselves and our behaviors, we can accomplish great things.

Rabbi Wein concludes that the accounting at the end of the Book of Shemos teaches us that all of the great miracles and events are meaningless if people feel no responsibility and accounting to the Jewish people. When a supernatural event occurs, what do we gain from it and how can we use that inspiration towards our service to the Jewish people and the world in general? We must make an accounting of all of the details of our religious and everyday behavior and assist the growth of the Jewish people while maintaining the values of the Torah. This will give us courage and strength to face the challenges which the rest of the world thrusts upon us.