Parasha VaYakhel Pekudei

A preacher went into his church and he was praying to God. While he was praying, he asked God, "How long is 10 million years to you?" G-d replied, "1 second." The next day the preacher asked God, "God, how much is 10 million dollars to you?" And G-d replied, "A penny." Then finally the next day the preacher asked God, "God, can I have one of your pennies?" And God replied, "Just wait a sec." We all know the familiar proverb, "Time is money."  But in many ways, time is not like money at all — it is much more precious. One cannot accumulate time; one cannot borrow time; and one can never tell how much more time one has left in the Bank of Life. Time can certainly be wasted, as can money. But time well spent can yield returns far greater and more lasting than anything that money can buy. One might say that time is the most precious thing we have in life. One poet called time "the ummanufactured tissue of the universe of life" (Arnold Bennett) In his book The Sabbath, Abraham Joshua Heschel compared the ancient pagans' glorification and sanctification of space, with Judaism's elevation and sanctification of time. The Sabbath, he writes, that most distinctive creation of the Jewish spirit, creates a "palace in time." Through observing the Sabbath the Jew feels transported and uniquely connected to the divine. Heschel was only partly right. Our Torah reading this week reflects the preciousness of space as well as time. It opens with Moses gathering the people together. As the curtain goes up we are expecting that he will tell them the instructions that he has received to build the Tabernacle — the holy place. Instead, he opens with the words about the holiness of time, "Six days work may be done, but on the seventh you shall have a Sabbath of complete rest." Only then does Moses go on to detail how the Tabernacle should be constructed. Earlier on, in Parasha Ki Tissa, when G-d instructs Moses on how to build the Tabernacle, G-d immediately follows these instructions with the injunction to observe the Sabbath. "Whoever does work on the Sabbath," says Moses, "shall be cut off from his kin." Notice that the Torah does not define "work". So what behaviors, exactly, are we to abstain from on the Sabbath? What constitutes "work"? From the two fold juxtaposition of the commandment to work on the Tabernacle with the commandment to rest on the Sabbath, the rabbis derived the very definition of "work". "Work" meant any of the 39 categories of labor associated with building the Tabernacle– from sewing and weaving to hammering and joining. All work on the Tabernacle, reasoned the rabbis, must be suspended on the Shabbat — not only while the work of building the Tabernacle was going on, but for all Sabbaths thereafter.  This teaches us an important lesson. The Tabernacle is a holy space. The Shabbat is holy time. However, when there is a conflict between the holiness of space and the holiness of time, the holiness of time takes precedence. The Torah tells us that G-d created the world in six days. G-d declares the Sabbath, the seventh day of the week, holy. G-d created time and space together, but time is the only one of the two that G-d blesses and makes holy. What does it mean to be holy, to be blessed, to be sanctified? It means to be set apart as special. It means to have the potential to partake of a higher spiritual worth. Yet, it is only a potential. If we, you and I, do not also sanctify time, then the time becomes just another day of the week for us. It is only Saturday if we do not make it Shabbat. The Sabbath is a portal in time that we may enter that will bring us closer to G-d, but we need to take the initiative to take the first steps through it.     Shabbat Shalom