by Rabbi Yisrael Kaniel – March 2, 2011

The Torah section of Pekudei begins (Sh’mot 38:21): “These are the accountings of the Tabernacle … which were counted at the behest of Moses.”  This verse is then followed by a detailed listing of the amounts of gold, silver and copper which were contributed towards the construction of the Mishkan (Tabernacle).  An accounting was made for each and every one of the elements that entered into the makeup of this holy structure that G-d asked the Israelites to construct.

In his Darash Moshe, the eminent 20th century Torah giant R. Moshe Feinstein remarks that this accounting teaches us an important lesson.  We see the significance of accounting for everything that we have been granted by G-d.  We should account for the life spans that we are granted – what we accomplished during this precious time.  We should account for our skills and talents that we were blessed with – what we used them for.  We should account for the wealth that we have been provided – what was done with the monies.  Even charity must be accounted for – what forms of charity were performed.  One is not at liberty, R. Feinstein notes, to do as he wishes with what G-d has provided him, for the Torah puts numerous limitations on the ways monies and properties may be negotiated and transferred.  “For Mine is the entire world” (Sh’mot 19:5).  All that is contained in this world belongs to G-d.  Consequently, all that we make use of in this world of His bounty must be accounted for.

In whatever we do in this world, we must make a careful accounting, no less when it comes to holy endeavors.  It was incumbent upon us to keep detailed accountings of the Tabernacle.  It was not enough for all to just give what they felt.  We had to understand what was needed, how much of each item was needed and how much we gave.  What we have may not be hoarded nor may what we have be wasted.  Just as in the accountings of the Tabernacle, all of our actions and even the monies that we give to charity must be accounted for carefully.  Are we doing all that we can?  Do we understand the significance of the given causes that we are contributing to?  Are we fulfilling all our obligations with all our heart?  Or are we just making a gesture to calm our consciences?  Only a proper accounting can answer the question.