|This D’var Torah is in Z’chus L’Ilui Nishmas my sister Kayla Rus Bas Bunim Tuvia A”H, my grandfather Dovid Tzvi Ben Yosef Yochanan A”H, my uncle Reuven Nachum Ben Moshe & my great aunt Rivkah Sorah Bas Zev Yehuda HaKohein.
It should also be in Zechus L’Refuah Shileimah for:
-My father Bunim Tuvia Ben Channa Freidel
-My grandfather Moshe Ben Breindel, and my grandmothers Channah Freidel Bas Sarah, and Shulamis Bas Etta
-Mordechai Shlomo Ben Sarah Tili
-Noam Shmuel Ben Simcha
-Chaya Rochel Ettel Bas Shulamis
-Nechama Hinda Bas Tzirel Leah
-And all of the Cholei Yisrael
-It should also be a Z’chus for an Aliyah of the holy Neshamos of Dovid Avraham Ben Chiya Kehas—R’ Dovid Winiarz ZT”L, Miriam Liba Bas Aharon—Rebbetzin Weiss A”H, as well as the Neshamos of those whose lives were taken in terror attacks (Hashem Yikom Damam), and a Z’chus for success for Tzaha”l as well as the rest of Am Yisrael, in Eretz Yisrael and in the Galus. B”H, Zalman Michael Bes Golda Mirel and Ariella Golda Bas Amira Tova have experienced incredible Refuos!
**Note: This D’var Torah is a re-written, much edited, and expanded version of an old one I wrote a few years ago.
פְקוּדֵי ● Pekudei
- Why was it necessary for the Torah to take a reckoning of the Mishkan parts? Who’s counting? ●“Who cares About the Pekudei HaMishkan?”
The Torah finishes off Sefer Shemos with the “Pekudei HaMishkan”1 which can be loosely translated as the “reckoning” of all of the materials contributed to the Mishkan. After having spent four portions of the Torah discussing the Mishkan, its many parts and related laws, why would the Chumash take this time and space to list the “numbers” of the Mishkan all over again? Are these records really of any intrinsic signifigance that they had to be enumerated for generations? Moreover, did viritually an entire Sidrah need to be devoted to this topic?
In order to understand the significance of this “reckoning” of the Mishkan parts, perhaps we have to better understand the meaning of the expression, “Pekudei.” Indeed, until now, we have been translating it as some sort of reckoning, as in our context, it appears to be an enumeration of the materials and their weights. But, what exactly are “Pekudim”? What does the word even mean?
Pe • ki • dah [פקידה] – Definition:
The verb, “Pekidah,” from the root word “Pakad” [פקד] appears a number of times throughout the Torah, so if we just looked at the other occurrences of this word, it should not be difficult to define. Or so one would think… Indeed, although the root word “Pakad” appears multiple times in Scripture, it seems to have more than one simple meaning based on the contexts in which it appears.
Perhaps similarly to our context, the verb of “Pekidah” would appear later in Sefer Bamidbar when Moshe Rabbeinu was commanded to take a census of the B’nei Yisrael.2 The simplest connotation there, as in our Sidrah, is one of counting.
However, the same verb would appear later in the same Sidrah with an apparently different meaning. Hashem commanded Moshe not to count the tribe of Levi with the rest of the nation, but rather, “V’Atoh Hafkeid [הפקד] Es HaLevi’im Al HaMishkan HaEidus…”3
What does that line mean? If we translated the verb “Hafkeid” the same way we did in the previous reference, with the connotations of counting, it wouldn’t make much sense; “And you shall count the Levi’im regarding the Mishkan of the Testimony…” Thus, Rashi clarifies that in that verse specifically, the expression of “Pekidah” must mean to “appoint”—that Moshe was commanded to appoint the Levi’im towards their respective tasks for the Mishkan.
And yet, in one final context, back in Sefer Bereishis where one can find the earliest appearances of this root word, “Pekidah” appears to have connotations of remembering. For example, when describing how Hashem would ultimately redeem the B’nei Yisrael from their Egyptian Exile, Yosef assured his brothers twice with the words “…Pakod Yifkod…”-“….He will surely remember [you]…,”4 a code phrase which would be echoed later by Hashem Himself when He later instructed Moshe to begin that redemption process; “Pakod Pakadti…”-“I have surely remembered…”5
This connotation of remembering would make sense in light of the very first appearance of this verb in the entire Torah when Hashem ultimately fulfilled His promise to grant the barren Sarah Imeinu a child. There, the Torah relates, “VaHashem Pakad Es Sarah…”-“And Hashem remembered Sarah…”6 which is followed by the birth of that miracle child, Yitzchak Avinu. Regarding this verse, Ramban invokes the statement of Chazal which teaches that the term “Pekidah” is virtually synonymous with “Zechirah,” literally, “remembering.”7
This association between “Pekidah” and “Zechirah” is evident in our liturgy as well where the two words often appear together. When that happens, translators are forced to differentiate between the terms when converting them into English, leading many to substitute the word “remembering” for “considering” as a translation for “Pekidah.” Thus, in the poetic and moving prayer of “Ya’aleh V’Yavo” where we essentially ask Hashem to remember us, we request as follows:
“…V’Yipakeid [ויפקד] V’Yizacheir [ויזכר] Zichroneinu [זכרוננו] U’Fikdoneinu [ופקדונו]…”-“…and our memory and our consideration should be considered, and remembered.”
Similarly, later in the same Tefilah, we pray: “Zachreinu [זכרנו] Hashem Elokeinu Bo L’Tovah; U’Fakdeinu [ופקדנו] Vo L’Vrachah”-“Remember us, Hashem our G-d, on it [the appointed time] for good; and consider us on it for blessing.”
Lost in Translation
Now that we have been introduced to all of the above definitions, translations, and synonyms for this quite complicated expression of “Pekidah,” can we possibly pinpoint what the word actually means, in a single word? Clearly, it is multifaceted as we’ve just demonstrated. It seems to have a lot of different meanings. But, what is the unifying, underlying connotation of “Pekidah”?
While we ponder that question, are any of the above translations completely satisfying? If we consider the definitions we have provided, none of them seem to perfectly portray this unique word in each of its contexts. Each definition we have provided has a problem.
Although we have found two fair contexts for the connotations of counting, this translation does not seem to fit the word perfectly as per its earliest contexts. Moreover, there are other words which the Torah could have used to convey counting, such as that which is found in Sefer Vayikra, both in Parshas Emor when the Torah discusses the counting of the days from the Omer offering8 and in Parshas B’Har when the Torah discusses the counting of the Sh’mitah years.9 In those contexts, the Torah uses a completely different verb, “Sefirah” [ספירה], from root word, “Safar” [ספר], which most literally means “to count.” If the Torah purely meant to convey counting, why not use this alternative, much less complicated word?
There seems to have only been one context where “Pekidah,” perforce, meant “appointing.” That one occurrence, even if it must mean “appointing,” is clearly an exceptional one which evidently takes “Pekidah” out its usual meaning. The question is why the Torah would use a seemingly less than accurate word, forcing us to redefine the word for the sake of this foreign context.
While the connotation of “remembering” appears compelling from the original context of “Pekidah,” it does not appear that way in the other contexts which do seem to reflect something more of a counting. Moreover, although context has certainly led us to an association between “Pekidah” and “Zechirah,” clearly, as similar as the two words are, they are not identical. Thus, “Pekidah” could not purely mean “remembering” either. With that said, what might be the difference between “Pekidah” and “Zechirah”?
The Common Denominator: Consideration
In fact, if we carefully consider all of the definitions we’ve identified for “Pekidah,” the beautiful, common denominator of all of them is the theme of careful consideration. Neither counting, appointing, nor remembering perfectly capture “Pekidah” in every single one of its contexts; however, the sentiment of a specialized concentration or this “careful consideration” appears to be the unifying translation that fits all of the contexts and can itself, be applied to each of the above translations as well; counting, appointing, and remembering.
For example, while one can count something plainly and draw a tally of numbers, this expression of “Pekidah” tells us that whatever the case, this counting is not merely to reach a particular number. The counting is way of accounting for each and every unique individual, with care and consideration. It is not the number that matters as much as the individuals in the number.
In the same vein, to appoint someone requires that the one doing the appointing carefullly consider and entrust the appointee with the required task. He has to think about the individual he appoints.
And finally, while one can remember someone or something by merely recalling a memory of that person or thing, the difference between “Zechirah” and “Pekidah” is perhaps that “Pekidah” connotes a more active and careful consideration of the person him or herself, or the thing itself, beyond a mere memory of that person or thing.
“The ‘Pikudei Hashem’ are Upright”
This theme of careful consideration seems to be the meaning of the same word in noun form, as it appears in Tehillim, describing Hashem’s Mitzvos:
“Pikudei Hashem Yesharim Mesamchei Leiv…”-“The ‘Pikudei Hashem’ are upright, gladdening the heart…”10
What are these “Pikudei Hashem”? Ibn Ezra, Radak, and R’ Shimshon Raphael Hirsch all highlight the connection between the word “Pikudei” and the Chazal referred to in their time as a “Pikadon,” a deposit that is stored away to be carefully guarded and regarded. More specifically, they explain that the “Pikudei Hashem” are the “common sense” Mitzvos which Hashem had preemptively “deposited” into the heart of man. By infusing mankind with common sense, He entrusted him with the responsibility that is implicitly mandated by the pure logic on which these Mitzvos are naturally founded. Since the “Pikudei Hashem” are regarded as “Yesharim”-“upright,” as the Tehillim describes, they consequently “gladden the heart” which readily understands them. Considering the “logical” nature of these Mitzvos, man is naturally charged to treat them as “Pekudim,” carefully considering them, properly calculating them, and ultimately adhering to them.
One More Example: “Pokeid Avon…”-“Visiting the Iniquities…”
On the negative side, the same meaning of the root of “Pekidah” emerges where Hashem declares twice in the Torah that He is “Pokeid Avon Avos Al Banim”-“He visits [remembers, calculates] the iniquities of the fathers onto the sons”11 when the sons persist to perpetuate their fathers’ paths of sin.12 Although “Pekidah” in this verse is commonly translated as “visits,” that G-d “visits” the sins of the fathers upon their sons, what does visit really mean here? Does it mean that Hashem take roadtrips to meet up with and get reacquainted with the sins of the fathers? Perhaps, on some level, yes, actually. In other words, G-d recalls, carefully considers and calculates those sins into the equation with His precise judgment of the sons who preserve them.
But again, the connotation, albeit negative here, is one of careful consideration.
Back to “Pekudei HaMishkan”
Coming full circle now, the question is how our enriched understanding of “Pekidah” will inform our understanding of Parshas Pekudei, or more specifically, the “Pekudei HaMishkan.” We were wondering specifically what was so significant about the “reckoning” or the “numbers” of the Mishkan. Why did the Torah devote so much time and space to this topic? Well, what do we know now? That whatever are referred to as “Pekudim” are apparently important. They are worth considering.
In terms of the “Pekudei HaMishkan,” if nothing else, we know that the Torah’s main concern is not the numbers per se, but the content in the numbers. The contributions to the Mishkan are something that Hashem has a “vested interest” in. He cares about and considers them worthwhile. Why? Perhaps, because they are our contributions. After all, He remembered us and therefore redeemed us from Egypt because He cares about us. He counted us in the Wilderness because He continued to care for us. It stands to reason that He counted the materials which we pledged to Him, because indeed, He cares and considers what comes from us. The details that go into the house which we built for Him according to His instructions matter to Him. Every ounce of effort counts.
Our World in a Microcosm
Indeed, among the many concepts which are symbolized by the Mishkan, the Mishkan is perhaps most famously a microcosm of our world.13 Ideally, the goal is to make our world into an abode for the Divine Presence. The Mishkan is merely the model. And if the “Pekudei HaMishkan” mattered, then most certainly, every single one of our actions and decisions in this world matter and are carefully considered, “weighed” on Hashem’s “grand scale.” A Mitzvah or an act of Chessed that we perform, any Minhag we engage in, or Chas V’Shalom, any Aveirah we commit tips that scale. But again, on this scale, Hashem does not merely tally up for a total. Each and every single deed is measured with unique, individualized care and consideration.
In the end, the “Pekudei HaMishkan” teach us to recognize how even slightest details in our lives on this world have significance and that G-d measures out and exacts every single fraction of them. No differently than the details of the Mishkan themselves, Hashem has “preferences” to guide virtually our every decision in life. Like a deposit that is carefully stored away, each action is stored and meaningfully considered. Hashem cares about the details. So, should we.
May we all be Zocheh to recognize that Hashem carefully considers our every action and develop that same sensitivity to our actions, and Hashem should ultimately consider and remember Zichroneinu U’Fikdoneinu…V’Zichron Moshiach Ben Dovid Avdo, he should join us, Bimheirah Biyomeinu! Have a Great Shabbos & a Freilichin Chodesh Adar Sheini!! 🙂
-Yehoshua Shmuel Eisenberg 🙂
- Shemos 38:21
- Bamidbar 1:3
- Bereishis 50:24-25
- Shemos 3:16
- Bereishis 21:1
- Rosh HaShannah 32B
- Vayikra 23:15
- Tehillim 19:9
- Shemos 20:5 and 34:7
- See Ibn Ezra and Sforno’s comments to Shemos 20:5.
- Nefesh HaChaim 1:4