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    Checking the accounts – P’kudei

    This week’s sidra, P’kudei, surveys the Tabernacle accounts – what was given to the project, what was spent, what was achieved.

    The need for donations is spelt out in most of the Torah readings of recent weeks. By means of the fundraising Moshe discovered the numbers of the people. Everybody had to give, so he could calculate how many donors there were, and how many Israelites.

    One of the implications of this procedure comes in the sidra of Ki Tissa, which says, “When you take a count of the Children of Israel according to their number, each shall pay a ransom for his soul”. One view is that since the census revealed how many men were available for military purposes, which would entail the killing of enemies, each must seek atonement even before the fighting begins.

    The Or P’nai Moshe understands the verse differently: “When you count the people, each one must work on his own soul”. If they want to be counted into the people of Israel, they must each become the best possible Israelite they can.

    People these days often eliminate as much of Judaism as they can – “I don’t keep Shabbat, I don’t keep kosher, I don’t go to the synagogue…” When it comes to checking the accounts of the Israelites, the real test should not be what they take out of Judaism – but what they put in.

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