Pekudei – The Individual and the Collective

This week’s Parsha is often read together with the previous one, Vayakhel, except during a leap year, like this year. While Vayakhel emphasizes the collective value of pulling together, Pekudei emphasizes the individual worth of each single person. Both quantity and quality have their day. Often this week’s Parsha, Pekudei, is read together with the previous one, Vayakhel.  But since we are enjoying a leap year which includes a leap month of an extra Adar, the two Parshiot are separated. Vayakhel means to gather together and create a much larger whole. Pekudei emphasizes the power of the individual unit as it deals with taking an audit of the individual contributions to the Mishkan, every single contribution – showing the value of each unit, each one. Both quality and quantity have their relative advantages. For example, having a Minyen which consists of ten, creates a spiritual source far greater than simply adding the individual worth of each of the ten individuals together.  On the other hand, if one were missing from the ten, that one would possess far greater potential additional contribution to make than simply one person. That is why we extol the virtue of a tenth person for a minyen by calling him a ‘Tzenter’ – the tenth, a special honour. Each one of us possesses infinite value through our unique soul. At the same time the community of Israel is only as strong as we can pull together. The answer: self-esteem coupled with joint effort.