• Gabbai

Pekudei – Pegs and Pillars

This week’s Parsha, Pekudei, includes a tally of all income and expenses related to the Mishkan. The Torah goes into great detail reviewing the amounts of silver and gold that were collected and used for the work of the Mishkan. We can picture Moshe, confident that every penny could be tracked and that no administrative fees, and certainly no ‘protection’ monies had been paid out, ordered and audit to underscore the integrity that accompanied the work of the Mishkan.

The Midrash Yalkut Shimoni on this week’s Parsha, paragraph 415, indeed relates that Moshe called upon the children of Israel to make an accounting. He stated that thousands of shekels (a unit of weight) had been collected and thousands had been spent. “Let us confirm that all the monies have been appropriately used and that the accounting books match.” The Midrash states that the people gathered to watch Moshe’s audit and were all witness to a shortfall in the accounting. When Moshe completed the count, there was a discrepancy of 1,775 shekels of silver that he could not account for. Moshe was horrified! Until now he had been almost smug in his confidence, completely certain that there had been no embezzling or corruption in relation to the Mishkan. Until then the people also had complete faith in Moshe, but the results of the audit could not be ignored.

In desperation Moshe reviewed the audit, again and again. The Midrash states that the Lord enlightened Moshe and he discovered that he had overlooked the expense of a small item – the knobs fastening together the wooden beams of the walls. The wooden beams of the Mishkan walls, in addition to the poles that were used to bolt them together, and in addition to the settings in which they were placed, were also held together by little hooks that connected one to the other. These hooks are called vavey ha’amudim, the hooks of the pillars. The Midrash concludes that instantly the confidence of the people in Moshe was restored.

We know that the Midrash sometimes embellishes the facts in order to draw our attention to a lesson. Whether or not there was indeed a discrepancy in the initial accounting is not relevant. Regardless, the Midrash is drawing our attention to a small detail of the Mishkan, to little silver knobs.

Rabbi Jacob J Shachter, a brilliant teacher some of you may be familiar with, comments on this Midrash. These hooks, he writes, are easily overlooked, not taken into