Friday, March 11, 2016

Parashat Pekudei- Endings and Beginnings

Hazak; hazak; v’nit’hazayk.
Be strong; be strong, and we will strengthen each other.
(Recited when completing a book of the Torah.)
Thus ends the book of Shemot. Thus ends the story of our beginnings, Breishit, the narrative of our slavery, Shemot, our book of laws, Vayikra, the story of our wanderings, B’midbar, and the retelling of it all, D’varim. We begin as all people, but we overcome so much to be a kingdom of priests, to become more numerous than the sands of the seas or the stars of the heavens. We will become a community of judges and of artists, a community of law and of beauty, where anyone can be a leader or a scholar.
We end each book of the Torah the same way. Hazak; hazak; v’nit’hazayk. Be strong; be strong, and we will strengthen each other. The formula printed in the Humash contains even more. We note that which we have just completed. We note the middle words of the book. The book of Shemot contains 1,209 p’sukim, 11 parshiyot, 29 according to the triennial cycle, and 40 chapters. The Torah has 69 p’tuchot and 95 stumot (open and closed paragraph breaks), all in all 164 parshiyot.

At the end of each book, we mark how far we’ve come, and how much we have. Each of these verses, readings, chapters, paragraphs is precious to us. Our story never ends. It continues through Vayikra, B’midbar, and D’varim, and begins anew. And every time, each of the words, the verses, the parshiyot, the chapters, and the books has the power to move us forward in learning and in our connection to God. With every word we read, every pasuk we chant, and every parasha and book we complete, we are made stronger as individuals, as a community, and as a people.

Shabbat shalom.