the Altar: Weekly Torah Reading - John J. Parsons

Hebrew for Christians
BS''D
Parashat Hashavuah - Torah for this Week
Weekly Torah Reading
Parashat Pekudei ("accounting of")
detailed aliyot readings
Click on the Parashah name to read the summary:
Shabbat Parashah Torah Haftarah Brit Chadashah
Mar. 1, 2014
Adar 29, 5774

Shekalim
Pekudei
1 Cor. 3:16-17
Heb. 13:10
Monday     February 24, 2014     24 AdarI 5774
Read the Summary
Glory Fills the Miskhan...
Parashat Pekudei (פרשת פקודי) is the final portion of Sefer Shemot, or the Book of Exodus. It begins with Moses' accounting of all the materials that were donated for the construction of the Mishkan (i.e., Tabernacle). Moses first recorded the inventory of the different building materials and furnishings, and then he carefully checked the special priestly garments. After all the work was confirmed to be in complete accordance with the LORD's instructions, Moses blessed the people.

The LORD then commanded Moses to assemble the Mishkan on "the first month in the second year [from the date of the Exodus], on the first day of the month" (i.e., on Nisan 1, or Rosh Chodashim, Exod. 40:17). Since Moses gave the commandment to begin building the Tabernacle on the day after Yom Kippur (i.e., Tishri 11), this implies that it took less than six months for Betzalel and his team to create the Tabernacle and all its furnishings.

Once the Tabernacle was completed and all its vessels were accounted for and inspected, Moses anointed all its components with the sacred anointing oil, called shemen ha-mishchah (note that the word "mishchah" (מִשְׁחָה) comes from the same root as "Messiah" (מָשִׁיחַ), indicating that the Mishkan (i.e., Tabernacle) would foreshadow God's plan of redemption given in Yeshua). Moses then formally initiated Aaron and his four sons into the priesthood, marking their hands and feet with sacrificial blood and "waving them" before the Lord to picture resurrection. The Divine Presence - manifest as the Shekhinah Cloud of Glory – then filled the Holy of Holies in the Tent of Meeting.

The Book of Exodus ends: "And Moses was not able to enter the Tent of Meeting because the cloud settled on it, and the Glory of the LORD (כְּבוֹד יְהוָה) filled the Mishkan (הַמִּשְׁכָּן). Throughout all their journeys, whenever the Cloud was taken up from over the Mishkan, the people of Israel would set out. But if the Cloud was not taken up, then they did not set out till the day that it was taken up. For the Cloud of the LORD (עֲנַן יְהוָה) was on the Mishkan by day, and Fire was in it by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel throughout all their journeys" (Exod. 30:35-38).

The Presence of the Glory of God that descended from Sinai upon the newly dedicated Mishkan represented a climactic moment for the fledgling nation, since the Sin of the Golden Calf had jeopardized whether the God would indeed dwell within the midst of the camp of Israel...  Recall that it was only after Moses had returned from Sinai bearing the second set of Tablets (on Yom Kippur) that the glow of the LORD's redeeming love radiated from his face, and new hope was given to Israel (prefiguring the New Covenant). The King of Glory would accompany the people from Sinai to the Promised Land! (The narrative continues in the Book of Numbers, beginning exactly one month after the Mishkan was assembled.)
Shabbat Shekalim
Four special Sabbaths occur just before the start of spring: two before Purim and two before Passover. Collectively, these Sabbaths are called "The Four Shabbatot" and four additional Torah readings (called Arba Parashiyot, or the "four portions") are read on each of these Sabbaths in preparation for the holidays. The names of these four Sabbaths are Shabbat Shekalim, Shabbat Zakhor, Shabbat Parah, and Shabbat HaChodesh, respectively.

The first of the four Sabbaths is called Shabbat Shekalim (שבת שקלים), "the Sabbath of the Shekels," which occurs just before the month of Adar begins. An additional reading (Exod. 30:11-16) is appended to the regular Torah reading that describes the contribution of a half-shekel for the construction and upkeep of the Mishkan (Tabernacle). According to a midrash in the Talmud (Bavli, Shekalim 1), the half-shekel represents a "fiery coin" that the LORD brought from underneath the Throne of His Glory to symbolically "atone" for the sin of the Golden Calf. Since every Jew was required to give this "widow's mite," repentance is accepted for all who come in true humility before the LORD. For us, it might be a time to remember those who offer personal sacrifices so that we also might draw closer to God.

Rosh Chodesh Adar
Note that this Shabbat marks Rosh Chodesh Adar (חודש אדר), that is, the twelfth month of the Jewish calendar (counting from the month of Nisan). During Jewish "leap years," however, an additional month is inserted into the Jewish calendar, and the month of Adar is appended by an additional month called Adar Sheni (or Adar II). From the point of view of the holidays, Adar II is theoretically recognized as the "twelfth month," so the holiday of Purim, for instance, is always celebrated during Adar II during Jewish leap years....
Determining a Jewish Leap Year
A Jewish leap year contains 54 weeks, but a non leap year has only 50 weeks (a leap-year adds an additional month (called Adar II) to the usual 12).  To determine whether a given Jewish year is a leap year, you will need a calculator that includes the mod() function. Enter the current Jewish year and then perform "mod 19." If the result is either 0, 3, 6, 8, 11, 14, or 17, then it is a Jewish leap year. For example, 5774 mod 19 is 17, and therefore is a Jewish leap year.... When in doubt, however, always check a good Jewish calendar!
The Rosh Chodesh Blessing
The following (simplified) blessing can be recited to celebrate the new month and to ask the LORD God Almighty to help you for this coming season:
יְהִי רָצוֹן מִלְּפָנֵיךָ יהוה אֱלהֵינוּ וֵאלהֵי אֲבוֹתֵינוּ
שֶׁתְּחַדֵּשׁ עָלֵינוּ חדֶשׁ טוֹב בַּאֲדנֵינוּ יֵשׁוּעַ הַמָּשִׁיחַ אָמֵן
ye·hi · ra·tzon · mil·fa·ne·kha · Adonai · E·lo·hei·nu · ve·lo·hei · a·vo·tei·nu
she·te·cha·desh · a·lei·nu · cho·desh · tov, · ba·a·do·nei·nu · Ye·shu·a · ha·ma·shi·ach · amen
"May it be Your will, LORD our God and God of our fathers,
that you renew for us a good month in our Lord Yeshua the Messiah. Amen."



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Blessing before Torah Study:
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Some terms:
  • Parashah is the weekly Scripture portion taken from the Torah. Each parashah is given a name and is usually referred to as "parashat - name" (e.g., parashat Noach). For more information about weekly readings, click here. 
  • Aliyot refer to a smaller sections of the weekly parashah that are assigned to people of the congregation for public reading during the Torah Reading service. In most congregations it is customary for the person "called up" to recite a blessing for the Torah before and after the assigned section is recited by the cantor. For Shabbat services, there are seven aliyot (and a concluding portion called a maftir). The person who is called to make aliyah is referred to as an oleh (olah, if female).
     
  • Maftir refers to the last Torah aliyah of the Torah chanting service (normally a brief repetition of the 7th aliyah, though on holidays the Maftir portion usually focuses on the Holiday as described in the Torah).  The person who recites the Maftir blessing also recites the blessing over the Haftarah portion.
     
  • Haftarah refers to an additional portion from the Nevi'im (Prophets) read after the weekly Torah portion. The person who made the maftir blessing also recites the blessing for the Haftarah, and may even read the Haftarah before the congregation.
     
  • Brit Chadashah refers to New Testament readings which are added to the traditional Torah Reading cycle. Often blessings over the Brit Chadashah are recited before and after the readings.
     
  • Mei Ketuvim refers to a portion read from the Ketuvim, or writings in the Tanakh. Readings from the Ketuvim are usually reserved for Jewish holidays at the synagogue.
     
  • Perek Yomi Tehillim refers to the daily portion of psalms (mizmorim) recited so that the entire book of Psalms (Tehillim) is read through in a month. For a schedule, of daily Psalm readings, click here.
     
  • Gelilah refers to the tying up and covering the Sefer Torah (Torah Scroll) as an honor in the synagogue.
     
  • Divrei Torah ("words of Torah") refers to a commentary, a sermon, or devotional on the Torah portion of the week.
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