Double Mitzvah – Vayakhel / Pekudei

Double Mitzvah Jewrotica Parsha

Written by Tamar Fox. Check out last week’s post in this series, Double Mitzvah – Ki Tissa.

Rated PGThis week’s double parsha concludes with a brief description of a cloud that acted as a kind of “travel advisory” for the Israelites. When the cloud over the Tabernacle lifted, they journeyed on. When it didn’t lift, they stayed put. At night, the cloud became holy fire that hovered over the Tabernacle, and was visible to all of the Israelites.

This miraculous, visible presence of God guided the Israelites on their way. We may think of them as wandering, but really, they had God with them every step of this journey. It was, perhaps, God who lead them to walk so aimlessly around the desert, keeping them from crossing over into the promised land for 40 years.

There are two perspectives that can be taken on this piece of information. One could feel comforted, knowing that God was always with the people even as they struggled through the desolate landscape. Or one could feel angry that God allowed the Israelites to get so lost, so mired in the desert. Was the cloud a crutch that prevented the Israelites from figuring out how to navigate for themselves? Or was it a necessary helping hand?

I think it’s important to ask these questions about the relationships that we cling to in life. As we approach Pesach and the time when we tell the story of our Exodus, we should all be thinking about how our relationships–romantic and otherwise–have impacted us. Are we stuck in cycles of slavery within them? How can we use these relationships to dig ourselves out of the pain and get closer to freedom and joy?

Perhaps from this story we can recognize that total and complete dependence in a relationship has its faults, but at the same time take to heart that our partners will be there for us when we are feeling lost and in need.

Shabbat Shalom!

Author of Jewrotica's Double Mitzvah column, Tamar Fox is a writer and editor in Philadelphia. She will try anything once, including open relationships, dating someone who is chalav yisrael, and going to Suriname.