4/5 Mar : Pekudei : Shabbat comes in 5:31 pm, ends 6:34 pm
Parashat Pekudei – The Sacred Spreadsheet
Here at the very end of the Book of Exodus, we encounter an accounting. After all the
instructions about the exact expanse of the beams in the mishkan, after the collecting of
precious metals for the building, comes a parashah that reads like a spreadsheet. Exactly
how much was donated? Which metals were used where? For someone without a mind for
mathematics, it can seem a dizzying parashah indeed.
But counting, however confounding, is crucial. Later in the Torah, we will be given another rule about measuring methods (Deuteronomy 25:13-15): “You shall not have in your bag two kinds of weights, large and small. You shall not have in your house two kinds of measures, large and small. You shall have only a full and honest weight; you shall have only a full and honest measure…”
The Kli Yakar notes that there is an apparent redundancy in this ruling. Surely the text only
needed to say either a) do not have dishonest weights/measures, or b) have only honest
weights/measures. By saying both that we must not have dishonest weights and that we
must only have honest weights, the Torah might appear to be repeating herself.
The Kli Yakar suggests that this repetition comes to teach us about the status of an honest
weight beside a dishonest weight. We might think to have both in our possession, and we
might think that the transgression lies only with the dishonest weight. However, in such a
circumstance, the honest weight becomes a tool for deceit. It does not exist in a moral
vacuum; it is possible to sin even with an honest weight.
When it comes to matters of taxes and tz’dakah, the spreadsheet is sacred. It’s an odd
parashah for those of us who aren’t mathematically minded, but little Pekudei should not be underestimated.