This week's Parashah opens in Exodus and it concludes the book of Exodus and chapter 40, verse 38. Pekudei means “Reckonings.”
We begin with the accounting of all that was involved in the building of the Tabernacle in the Wilderness. In chapter 40, verse 1, the L-rd tells Moshe to erect the Tabernacle on the first day of the first month of the year. It was to mark a new beginning.
Understanding the Jewish calendar is one of those things that perplex everyone who tries. The Jewish calendar is based upon a lunar month. Each month, therefore begins with the new moon, and lasts for 30 days. The Rabbi’s determined that 7 times in 19 years, they must add an additional month of 20 days, similar to our leap year adjustment made every four years. This year is such a year; that is why Resurrection Sunday is one month before Passover this year. It will slowly creep back toward the Feast until, like last year, it will be the Sunday that actually falls within the week of Passover.
Think of a year, not as a flat timeline, but as a continuum. The religious calendar begins in Nissan, the season of Passover. It ends, with the seventh month, Tishri. The Civil Calendar begins with Tishri, and ends, seven months later, with Nissan. So, the two calendars overlap in their beginning and their ending months. 7+7(-2) =12!
Okay, so which first month was the text referring to? Well, for help in this, we can look at the Haftorah portion for this week. Each week, in addition to the Torah reading, there is a part of the Prophets read as well. There is a thematic correlation in most weeks’ reading. The Haftorah portion is from 1 Kings 7:51-8:21. This is the account of the opening of the Temple of Solomon. In chapter 8, verses 1-2, we read that the Temple was opened in the first day of the seventh month. In ancient times, it was called Ethanim, but during the time of the Babylonia captivity, the name was changed to Tishri. It is the seventh month of the religious calendar, but the first month of the civil one.
Since G-d is a G-d of patterns and of order, it is believed by the Rabbis that the Temple was dedicated at the same time of year as the Tabernacle was. At both of these times, the Shekinah appeared and was so brilliant that no one could approach the place where it rested. We often pray and sing songs in which we beg G-d to reveal His glory or to send His glory to us. Friends, if the Radiant Glory of G-d ever did appear, it would be so glorious that you could not stand to be in the same place. Even so, the L-rd instructs us to seek His face. He tells us that He wants to reveal His glory in us. He tells us that all the earth is filled with His glory. The glory of G-d is not something that can be trifled with, but it is also not something to be ignored.
The other evening, Carol and I noticed the beautiful rising of the full moon. In that was revealed the Glory of G-d. When we see one of our little grandchildren, we behold the glory of creation and of the Creator. When you experience the love between a couple or from a parent and their child, the glory of G-d is filling the earth. Do not miss every opportunity to revel in His glory as He reveals it to you this week.
At the end of the reading of each book of Torah,
as is the case this week, the entire congregation recites this declaration:
Chazak! Chazak! Venischazeik!!
Be Strong! Be strong! And may we be strengthened.
May this be our declaration and our prayer today and always.