Parshat Vayakhel – Pekudei

Torah Reading for Week of March 15 – March 21, 2009

“If You Build It, … Will Come”

by Rabbi Yocheved Mintz, ‘04
Valley Outreach Synagogue of Las Vegas

The 1989 film classic, Field of Dreams, tells the story of Ray Kinsella, an Iowa farmer, who hears a voice in his corn field tell him, “If you build it, he will come.” Taking this other-worldly message as an instruction to build a baseball field on his farm, he does so, and the ghosts of Shoeless Joe Jackson and the other seven Chicago White Sox players banned from the game for throwing the 1919 World Series appear. Field of Dreams is a feel-good movie, with quasi-biblical undertones. Each year, as I reread this week’s double parshiot, Vayakhel -Pekudei, I cannot help but be aware of the parallels between the message given to those who were to build the Mishkan (Tabernacle) in the wilderness and the fictional message given to Kinsella in the cornfields of Iowa.

Recurring phrases such as “whose heart so moved him” (n’sa-o li-bo) or “whose spirit moved him” (n’davah ru-cho) in Exodus 35, give us a sense that our ancestors in the desert were tuned in to the Divine, such that they came forth to contribute their skills and material offerings for the communal enterprise of constructing the Mishkan, clearly the “it” that if built, would be a dwelling place for G-d. While it is not clear that G-d is the “he” in Kinsella’s vision, the farmer follows his instructions from on high, builds the ball field, the ghosts of White Sox past appear and the story plays out. In Vayakhel, Moses is the intermediary who gets the message from G-d, causes the people to gather together and instructs them to do the Almighty’s bidding. The work and offerings are just as G-d had instructed and as the Book of Exodus comes to a close, a holy cloud settles upon theMishkan by day and a holy fire appears in the cloud at night, portending the future journey of Beit Yisrael.

The mystics say that we live in four worlds: Assiyah, the world of practicality;Y’tzirah, the world of emotion; B’riyah, the world of the intellect; and Atzilut, the world of the Divine connection. Clearly Moses was able to keep himself grounded in Assiyah and yet ascend through the four worlds, glean Divine messages, and transmit them with sufficient authority as to inspire the kahal (community) to build the Mishkan. While it was perhaps Moses who did the constant ratzo va-shov, running and returning between the worlds, the text implies that others felt moments of gained insights, and were driven by chochmat ha-lev, the wisdom of their hearts. Not everyone who offered his services was even a trained artisan, but all seemed to feel the hand of the Divine spirit guiding their own hands. (It is reminiscent of the Yom Kippur liturgy in which we call out that we are but the chomer, the material, the clay in G-d’s hands.) Those who constructed the Mishkan also had insight into their individual gifts. They were more than blueprint readers; they sensed that they could fashion the intricacies of the Tent of Meeting, and set out to construct inAssiyah, with a holy chutzpah from the world of Y’tzirah, a confidence derived inB’riyah and an inspiration that comes from the world of Atzilut.

Reb Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev, interpreting the “v’chein ta-asu” (and so shall youmake it) of an earlier pasuk (Exodus 25:9), into “and so shall you make it,” helps us understand that just as our ancestors in the wilderness made G-d’s sanctuary according to the visions of their moment in history, and the author Kinsella created a vision for his time, so are we to tune in to the depth and breadth of the worlds in which we live, and daily, and weekly re-create the Mishkan for our selves and for our holy communities. Whether it is in a well-appointed synagogue, a heimischeliving room, or a space in the great outdoors, if we “build” it, you-know-Who will come. Ken y’hi ratzon.

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