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Vayak’heil – Pekudei

Exodus 35:1 – 40:38

With these two parashiot, which are read together except during the Jewish leap year, when Pekudei stands alone during the additional month of Adar II, we are entering into the closing chapters of the Book of Exodus. Moses has received and disseminated Divine instructions for the construction of the Tabernacle, and the building is about to begin. He calls the people together, tells them what is needed, and invites them to serve. And the Torah reports:

Everyone whose heart was uplifted and everyone whose spirit was moved contributed their part to the Holy One in the building of the Tent of Meeting. (Exod. 35:21)

One could look at this verse and find in its pithiness the essence of our life purpose. The Tent in question, in our interpretation, no longer corresponds to the few square feet of the portable construction in an ancient wilderness; rather, it is all of Creation writ large. The point is no longer to build a narrowly defined exclusive sanctuary on earth, but for humanity to awaken to God’s sanctuary as Earth. This is the Tent of ultimate realization where humanity will meet itself as billions of unique and precious expressions of the Divine. This is the Tent of Meeting we are called to create with our gifts and our service.

How are we to serve? With all our heart and with all our soul, is what Torah requests (think of the V’ahavta), by bringing the whole of who we are to it. But what does that mean? Northwest spiritual teachers Drs. Joel and Michelle Levey offer a model of four sacred dimensions of leadership: vision, wisdom, power, and love. Each of these dimensions is associated, respectively, with a specific archetype: the visionary, the sage/teacher, the warrior, and the healer. All of us, in the Leveys’ model, have all four archetypes in our makeup, although in most cases one archetype is especially dominant. This reminds me of the four archangels of the bedtime Shema prayer. In front of us, we recite, is the angel Uriel (meaning Divine Light), the vision that lights the way ahead. On our right is Michael (our Godliness), the wisdom of our inner Being. On our left is Gabriel (God’s strength), our divine inner power. And behind us is Rafael (the healing presence of God), the loving healer within.

Bringing the whole of who we are to serve in manifesting the universal Tent of Meeting, as Torah calls us to do, starts with self-awareness. It means that we first need to become aware of the archangel most dominant in us. It also means that we need to bring more balance between all four archangels through appropriate mitzvot. If, for example, Gabriel is our dominant archangel—the warrior-power archetype fixated on perfection—then the practice of service through the mitzvah of Bikkur Cholim (visiting the sick) might help strengthen our inner Rafael, our loving healer-compassionate archetype. In bringing all four archangels into greater balance within the particular Tent of Meeting that we are, we will be better equipped to contribute the unique attributes of our angelic makeup to the building of the universal Tent of Meeting and bring our lopsided world itself into greater balance.