The two Parshiot Vayakhel Pekudei read this week consist of an almost play by play recap of the two parshiot Terumah and Tetzaveh. In Terumah we have the plans for collectiong donations and building the Mishkan, and in Vayakhel we have the actual collection of and the mishkan being built. In Tetzaveh we have the plans for the priestly garments and the artisans to make them, and in Pekudei we have the actual appointment of artisans and creation of the garments. (As Rashi remarks (35,5) there is no need for him to rehash the explanation of these as he had already explained them previously)
Anyone who has ever worked on any project knows the gulf that exists between planning and execution. Planning is always grandiose, inspiring, exciting. You get to grapple with the great questions your project is trying to build upon, and to bask in the greatness of your vision. Compared with this, the execution phase is so utterly banal and boring. The moment you start to execute your plans, to bring even the greatest thought to fruition in the realness of this world, you are bogged down in endless details, mindless paperwork, missed deadlines and endless arguments over minute details.
Even when you get to cut the ribbon on your great building, the final product is almost always a disappointment to the visionary. Rarely does a completed work convey the breadth of vision its planner envisioned. Even more rarely does the project continue to provide the kind of inspiration that inspired its creator in the first place.
Perhaps once in a lifetime, we chance upon a project whose execution doesn’t obscure the greatness of its vision, and whose continuity doesn’t hide the radicalism of the idea that germinated it.
In recounting every detail of the planning at the execution stage, and stressing each time separately, “as god has commanded Moses”, connecting the command or plan to the execution thereof, This Parsha is aiming at matching the enthusiasm of the plan in the minutia of execution. Infusing every detail of stringing the hooks for the curtains, or hemming the end of the garment, with the same greatness as the original word of god that started this ball rolling. And infusing the final continual product with the same divine presence Moshe found himself under at the moment of his prophecy.
This week we read Parshat Parah, the command to purify ourselves from the contamination of death in preparation for the spring renewal which culminates in Pesach. Parah is the spiritual pesach cleaning which is to cleanse our souls from the death of vision in detail. As the impure person must be sprinkled with water from a live well, with the ashes of a heifer which has never carried a yoke, signifying the freshness youth and liveliness we are to celebrate Pesach with. Let’s not let the minutia of this itself cause us to forget the point. Let us purify ourselves from death and become alive again.