Every now and then, like this week, we read two portions on a given Shabbat. The synagogue congregation do not always appreciate it, especially when it comes to Vayakhel-P’kudei, the longest of the double portions.
It prolongs the service and some would argue that it is boring and repetitive, reiterating material about building the Tabernacle which we have already covered over the last few weeks – though this time it is in the past tense, pointing out not what Israel had to do in order to build a Tabernacle but how precisely everything was carried out.
An extra dimension comes with the second sidra, which not only informs us how well the work was done but adds that there was an inspection and accounting. Everything was checked and double-checked and only then (actually in next week’s reading) could the Tabernacle ritual begin.
On a personal note I have to say that I saw the tremendous wisdom of this procedure – plan, implementation and inspection – when Jerusalem had a bad winter one year and we turned on our reverse-cycle air conditioning to get some extra warmth, and the air conditioning unit blew up. We had been away when the work was done on our apartment and did not know until that moment that not everything had been double-checked before the contractors left.
Maybe we had presumed too much, maybe we hadn’t. Still, we should have remembered that the Torah has both Vayakhel and P’kudei.