Politics & Parsha: Pekudei/Shekalim 5771

Posted on March 4, 2011 In Archives

Politics & the Parsha: “Shul Politics Like Never Before”

Each week IPA Deputy Director of Public Policy Howie Beigelman takes a look at the weekly parsha and discusses it in a way you may never have seen. Any hashkafic, halachic or political opinions are personal and do not reflect the official psak or policy of the OU.

This week we have a return of P&P Shorts:

Pekudei/Shekalim 5771: Wishful Space

“Liberty two-four is changing call signs. Liberty two-four is now Air Force One.” — Pilot (Air Force One, 1997)

Much of the movie was made up. We really don’t know all the secrets of Air Force One. But at least that they got right. It could be a state-of-the-art 747 with electronic countermeasures, antimissile systems and secure videoconferencing from which the country could be run indefinitely. Or it could be a single engine, World War Two era relic of a crop duster. If the president is in it, its called Air Force One. And if not, it’s just a plane.

That’s the lesson of the mishkan/tabernacle. Betzalel and Ohliab oversaw platoons of artists, artisans, craftsmen and skilled workers. Together they wove thread into luxurious curtains, tamed gold and copper into an ark and alters, and turned raw materials into a compound of beauty.

But there was one thing they could not do. They could not make it a sanctuary. They could design, Moses could bless, but G-d alone could sanctify.

The Boss of Me?

We are told again & again that the building of the Tabernacle was “as G-d commanded Moses.”

Yet Moses didn’t actually build it. Others did.

And they never questioned Moses. (Betzalel asked for clarification and argued when he thought Moses misunderstood but he never questioned the basic commands.)

Such was the trust the Jewish people placed in Moses. Such trust was well placed. We all ought think who we are trusting that much, if anyone?


Everyone gave a half shekel to the mishkan and then to its upkeep. Everyone. Rich. Poor. Middle Class. No one gave more. No one gave less.

There’s a lot of talk today about whether everyone should pay taxes. Some now get a refund on their EITC and not only don’t pay taxes but are paid by the taxpayer.

But the lesson of the Tabernacle is that everyone must have a part. What you pay for, even just one a year, says much about who you are.

Words to consider, ideas to ponder – politics & the parsha.