Photo of Rabbi Ettedgui

Parashat Vayakhel-Pekudei - 5773

My friends,

This is a very special Shabbat. We read a double portion, the last two portions in the Book of Exodus. It deals mostly with completion of the making of all the items that were to be in the Tabernacle - the portable temple - that will serve the Israelites in the wilderness as well as in the new land before Solomon builds the permanent Temple in Jerusalem.

On the first day of Nisan (coming up this Tuesday March 12), Moses completes the erection of the Tabernacle and brings in all the items, including the Ark, Menorah, Incense altar, regular altar, etc. The Tabernacle becomes a Mishkan, a sanctuary in the middle of the camp, as the Shechina (G-d's presence) engulfs it in the form of a pillar of cloud during the day and a pillar of fire at night.

This Shabbat was known as Shabbat HaChodesh. It is always the Shabbat before the new month of Nissan. We read an additional chapter from Exodus where the soon to be liberated Israelites are commanded, "HaChodesh Hazeh Lachem Rosh Chodashim" - "This month for you shall be the beginning of all months." In other words, they were to start a new calendar. What was wrong with the old calendar by which they lived in Egypt throughout the hundreds of years? As a free people, they were to detach themselves from the old calendar and all its special days and practices. Their destiny was in their hands.

I believe the message in this Parasha is eternal. Opportunites for new beginnings are presented to us at all times. We do not need to feel entraped or helpless because of the past. We can make a new calendar and new agendas for our life. That is the beauty of being free. Free from being tied to the past. The future is in our hands. That is also trhe message of Pesach - get rid of the Hametz, get rid of the old. Everyday is a new beginning.

I wish you a Gutten Chodesh, Chodesh Tov, a wonderful new month of Nisan and a Happy and joyous Pesach!

Avram