Pikudei: Taking note

take noteWe are in the last chapters of the book of Exodus.  The people have made the move throughout this part of the story from slavery to the base of the Mountain,  from the lowest to the highest, only to sink even lower through the Golden Calf.

The name of this week’s parasha is “Pikudei”…The shoresh or root of the word is “P-K-D” ,and it’s a great word, with all sorts of meaning.  Here it’s translated as “records” or “accounts” of the Tabernacle, but that doesn’t really say it all.  It suggests a deeper level of care and awareness, really understanding needs at the time, in people or situations….or places, like the Tabernacle itself.

One way of understanding Torah is tracing how and where a particular word is used.  “P-K-D” is one of those leitmotif words.  It’s everywhere, and is translated in all sorts of ways.  For example, way back in Genesis, using the same verb, God “took note” of Sarah has had been promised and finally allowed her to conceive her son Isaac.  (Gen 21:1).

The word in one form or another shows up ten times in the story of Joseph in Egypt…in Bible-land, that’s a LOT.   Pharoah “appointed Joseph” over everything in his house. The “pkadim” (see the root letters?) were the officers over the land. They will notice everything….everything about what’s going on out in the kingdom.   At the end of the story, the verb shows up again when Joseph assures his brothers that “God will surely visit you” and bring everyone up out of the land of Egypt.  (Gen 50:24)  God will remember, take note of, care about.

So what’s the connection to the way this week’s portion starts…”These are the records (pikudei) of the Tabernacle…” ? And what does it all mean for us?  We’ve just been reading all about the furnishings of the Tabernacle, in great detail.  This is where God wants to live. These furnishings were made with tremendous intention, paying a great deal of attention to their creation and placement.  They weren’t just decorations, they were made with P-K-D, with awareness and understanding . Which is good, because what comes next is the book of Leviticus, and it’s all about distinguishing and distinction and noticing when things are and aren’t clean, offered with the right intention what divides holy from not holy, and it’s ALL going to take place in this sacred Tabernacle the people just built.  It is about  P-K-D from the people to God, so God would continue to P-K-D the people.

How often do we fail to really take account of, notice, remember the things with which we are charged in life?  How much of our work involves detail, but not “P-K-Ding?”  Not really paying attention and remembering why we do it?  Living a life with “P-K-D”, where we take notice of, take account of, and act with awareness is how we make  a regular life a sacred one.  We take account of the beauty and wonder around us.  We ask God to take note of us; the least we can do is the same when it comes to God’s world.

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3 Responses to Pikudei: Taking note

  1. Kim Phillips says:

    Rabbi, I love this drash on the root letters and relating it to the portion, something I do with my Hebrew students. Have shared this on my Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/Hebrica … and will share it with my students this week. Thank you for a lovely post…

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