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Parashat Pekudeh- Counting the Things That Matter

Parashat Pekudeh begins with the accounting prepared by Moshe of the gold, silver and copper that Beneh Yisrael donated to the Mishkan. The Torah here specifies the amounts that were given, and what they were used for. This section begins with the words, "Eleh Fekudeh Ha’Mishkan" – literally, "These are the countings of the Mishkan…"

The Or Ha’haim Ha’kadosh (Rav Haim Ben-Attar, 1696-1743) notes that the first word in this verse is "Eleh" ("These"), and not "Ve’eleh" – "And these." In other contexts, the Rabbis teach that when the Torah writes "Eleh," without adding the "Vav" to connect the verse with the preceding verses, the Torah intends "Li’fsol Et Ha’rishonim" – to exclude the previous verses. Meaning, the word "Eleh," as opposed to "Ve’eleh," implies exclusion, that the matter discussed in this context differs from that which is discussed elsewhere.

Accordingly, the Or Ha’haim writes, the phrase "Eleh Fekudeh Ha’Mishkan" serves to exclude all other countings. Only the counting of the materials donated for the Mishkan has value and importance; the counting of everything else is unimportant. When people count their money and material assets, the Or Ha’haim writes, this is not a significant counting, because our material possessions are only temporary. The Or Ha’haim notes that the word "Mammon" (money) means "Ma Ata Moneh" – "What are you counting?" The word itself speaks of the transient nature of wealth, how money does not remain with us, such that it does not truly deserve to be counted. Similarly, the Aramaic word for money is "Zuz," which means "move," as money is always moving from one person to the next. There is something futile about counting our money, because it will not remain with us forever.

If we are going to count something, we should be counting that which we "donate" to the "Mishkan" – the Misvot that we perform, the Torah that we learn, and the charity that we give. These spiritual assets remain with us for all eternity, and so they are truly worthy of being counted. Our most important possessions are not the money we’ve earned and physical possessions that we’ve amassed, but rather our spiritual possessions – all the good that we do, which is everlasting, and thus the only true, valuable "assets" that we own.

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