Parashat Pekudei begins with a tally of all the materials collected for making the Tabernacle, its furnishings, and the garments of the priests. The first half details how the artisans made the priestly garments, essentially repeating the first half of parashat Tetzaveh, but changing the predominant verb from “you shall make” to “they made.”

As we saw with regard to the preceding parashah, Vayakheil, this apparent redundancy is intended to underscore the difference between Moses’ abstract and idealized vision of the Tabernacle with the physical Tabernacle the people constructed. This point is made in order to emphasize, in turn, that it is the physical Tabernacle that fulfills God’s will to make this world His home.

The second half of the parashah describes how the artisans brought everything to Moses, how God commanded Moses to erect the Tabernacle on the 1st of Nisan, and how Moses erected it on the designated day and the cloud that manifested God’s presence descended on it.

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The name of this parashahPekudei—means “the tallies of,” referring to the tallies of the materials the people brought to Moses in order to build the Tabernacle. Like the name of the previous parashah, Vayakheil, this parashah’s name refers to a mass of individual entities, but while the word Vayakheil (“And he assembled”) describes how these units combine to form a collective whole, the word Pekudei highlights each entity’s identity as a discrete unit that is counted separately.

Just as with parashat Vayakheil, the name of parashat Pekudei seems inconsistent with its contents. Although it contains the details of how the artisans made the priestly garments, the greater part of the parashah describes the three stages of how all the various people’s donations were combined into one organic whole: how they were brought to Moses, how God commanded Moses to erect the Tabernacle, and how he actually did so.

The answer, as it was with the similar difficulty with parashat Vayakheil, is that each component of the Tabernacle possesses a unique holiness and fulfills a unique function, but only by virtue of it being a part of the Tabernacle as a whole. Only once the entire Tabernacle has been constructed and every piece is in place does each component assume its unique role and become endowed with its spiritual effectiveness.

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The lesson from the parashah’s name is, first and foremost, that each of us possesses intrinsic worth that makes us an equal to every other individual of the Jewish people, notwithstanding our position on the ladder of spirituality. The two parashiot Vayakheil and Pekudei thus teach us the same lesson—Jewish unity—from opposite perspectives. From Vayakheil we learn that each of us is part of the whole; from Pekudei we learn that each of us has intrinsic value as an individual.

Secondly, the fact that the Tabernacle’s components only began to function once the entire Tabernacle was in place reminds us that whatever work we do on behalf of the community is not only for the community’s collective good, but also to enable us to fulfill our unique, individual Divine purposes, as well.

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Thus, the twin parashiot of Vayakheil and Pekudei consolidate the overall theme of the Book of ExodusShemot, the “names,” or “identity” of the Jewish people as a whole and as individuals. This fusion of our individual and communal identities is an essential facet of redemption in general—the other great theme of the Book of Exodus. Jewish unity is firstly the key to redemption:1 inasmuch as baseless hatred was the chief cause of the exile, brotherly love is its logical remedy. Secondly, the redemption itself will occur in a way that emphasizes our simultaneous individual and communal identities: we will be redeemed as a nation, as it is said, “A great congregation will return here,”2 but in addition, “You will be gathered one by one.”3