Thursday, March 03, 2011

Pekudei - If You Can't Be Your Own Friend, How Can You Expect Others To Be Your Friend?

"All the work of the Mishkan was completed, and Bnei Yisroel did
according to all that Hashem had commanded Moshe, so they did"
Shmot - 39:32

The Ohr HaChayim HaKadosh explains that while different parts of the Mishkan's construction were carried out by specific individuals, the Torah is here making clear that the final product is credited to The Jewish People as a single entity.The Ohr HaChayim suggests that in this concept rests the true meaning of "VeAhavta LeReacha Kamocha".
Given that no individual can perform every mitzvah, as some are mitzvot apply only to kohanim, some for men, some for women, etc., we reach completion only through others and we are instructed to love our fellows because they complete us.
The Ohr HaChayim states in his commentary on this pasuk something that sounds new-agey - that, in fact, your friend is you, not a separate entity, but an actual part of you. It is via the recognition and acceptance of the reality of our connectedness to one another that we each can achieve the rectification of our 248 limbs and 365 sinews which is the purpose of the mitzvot, as the Ohr HaChayim sees it.
The Chasam Sofer applies this idea of how we complete each other to the story of the man who asked Hillel to explain the whole Torah in one statement. Hillel chose "VeAhavta LeReacha Kamocha" as the essence of Torah because one can only fulfill the Torah in its entirety by being part of the communal entity to whom the Torah was given. You can only be a part of the whole thing if you embrace the individuals who are the other pieces of the collective.
May we each be blessed by G-d to fulfill our pieces of the puzzle and to assist each other in reaching completion.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Much needed perspective for me, RN. I get so disappointed (even enraged) when I see young Jews over here who appear to be ignorant or uncaring about Torah and mitzvot. "Not every one can do every mitzvah"--so true! Thanks for the reminder. (And I thought the parasha was all about building sockets and sewing bells and pomegranites!)

March 6, 2011 at 2:18 AM  
Blogger rabbi neil fleischmann said...

Thanks, glad the thought was meaningful. Interesting comment. Ignorance and lack of caring about Judaism are sad and pervasive realities, especially where you'd hope to find them least...

It bugs me when rabbis complain that there's nothing to talk about in these parshiyot. Just yesterday I heard a parsha shiur in which the rabbi's intro was that on a leap year doing shnayim mikra (the mitzvah of reading the parsha on the week it's read, twice the text, and once a translation/explanation) easier because all the usual double parshiyot become singles. On the other hand, he said, it makes speaking harder because not only to you have to find something say on VaYakheil but the next week you need to fing something on Pekudei. These kind of statements sound to me like an affront to the divinity and depth of G-d's Torah, and the many commentaries that are readily available to help us elicit the beauty of EVERY parsha. The speaker went on to chuck the parsha and talk about Shekalim.

March 6, 2011 at 7:25 AM  

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