For the Week of February 23th – March 1st I Adar 23 – 29; parasha Pekudi

Patch file photo
Patch file photo

We would like people to be aware of some of the Jewish things and thoughts taking place in Harrison NY.

In three weeks Purim will be here.  It starts after the Sabbath on March 15th and continues until dark on Sunday March 16th.  The Young Israel of Harrison will be reading the Megillah, the Book of Esther on Saturday Night and Sunday morning.  Sunday morning after the Megillah reading, there will be a Purim carnival for children and refreshments for adults.  All are welcome and there is no charge.  For more information visit www.YIOH.org.

Recently a number of stories have appeared in the media relating to issue of young women, some whom are not from orthodox backgrounds, wishing put on tefillin during services at their modern orthodox high school’s daily services.  In an effort to clarify what modern orthodoxy has to say on this issue, the Young Israel of Harrison will be sponsoring a lecture and holding a discussion presented by its spiritual leader Rabbi Yaakov Bienenfeld.  The lecture is entitled “Wrapping it Up-The Halacha of Women donning Tefillin.”  It will be held on this coming Wednesday night, February 25th at 7PM at the Young Israel of Harrison, 91 Union Avenue, Harrison NY.  The lecture is open to all.

Those are some of the Jewish things taking place in Harrison, here is a Jewish thought.

This week we read the Tora portion (“parasha”) known as “Pekudi” (Exodus 38:21-40:38).  With this reading we conclude the second book of the Five Books of Moshe.  There are several valuable lessons we can learn from this week’s parasha. 

Parasha, Pekudi lists everything that was used to make the Tabernacle used in the Wilderness known a the “the Mishkan.”  Why did Moshe make this list given that in prior parasha all these items were already listed?  Moshe rearticulated the items used to make the Mishkan after its construction to demonstrate not only that everything was put to its proper use but that he, Moshe, did not keep any of the valuables for himself.  No one could reasonably question that Moshe would misuse contributions given for the Mishkan.  After all Moshe was G-d’s greatest prophet.  However, Moshe wanted to teach that all of us, even G-d’s greatest prophet, need to behave so carefully that no one could have any question that we are honest and fair.

This Sabbath is also known as Shabbat Shkalim.  It gets its name from the special portion used to conclude the weekly Tora reading.  That special reading is called Parasha Shkalim.  It is taken from the first six verse of parasha Ki Tisa (Exodus 30:11-16.)  We are required to read this portion prior to the beginning of the month in which Purim occurs.  Normally, that is the month of Adar.  This year (5774) is a leap year on the Hebrew calendar.  As such, we add an additional month and called it Adar Bet, or Adar Two.  It is in this second Adar that Purim will take place. 

This portion of “Shkalim” relates two things.  First, there is a limitation on the manner by which a census of the Jewish people may be conducted.  The Jewish people cannot be counted directly.  Rather, the nation would be counted indirectly with the people each contributing a half shekel coin.  These coins would then be counted and the size of the nation determined. 

The second item related in Parasha Shkalim in an annual tax.  This tax is imposed on every man from the age of thirteen years and up.  The tax was to be collected during the month of Adar.  The tax was in the amount of a half shekel coin.  No one could contribute more or less than a half shekel.  The proceeds of this tax would be used to pay for the maintenance of the Bet HaMigdash and to purchase the communal offerings which were offered each day.

There are two important lessons to be learnt from these verses.  The first is that every person is important.  We do treat people as thing and count them directly.  Instead we count the coins they donate.  The second thing we learn is that we must work together all do our fair share and we are all equal n the eyes of G-d.


The Young Israel of Harrison, New York (YIOH) is a Modern Orthodox synagogue offering an intimate religious and communal experience.  Sabbath morning services begin at 9 am, mincha/maariv services on Friday and Saturday vary with sundown, and services on Sunday morning are held at 8 am.  For those who would like more information or would like to spend Shabbos in the area, visit the Young Israel of Harrison’s website at www.yioh.org or email Yiohnews@aol.com

Rabbi Bienenfeld gives weekly Talmud and Chumash classes at 7:00 pm on Monday and Tuesday evenings, respectively.  Please check the calendar posted on YIOH.org to confirm the schedule.

© W. Fraenkel 2014

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