In this week’s combined portions of Vayakhel and Pekudei, we conclude our reading of the book of Shemot (Exodus). At the beginning of Parshat Vayakhel, Moses instructs the children of Israel as to the proper way to observe Shabbat; the parsha then continues with detailed instructions on the building of the Mishkan, which is then filled with the presence of the Divine as Parshat Pekudei concludes. What do we learn from this juxtaposition of ideas? What is the connection between observing Shabbat and the preparation of a place for the Divine presence to dwell?
On campus, many of us in the Hillel world spend a substantial part of our time (and budgets!) helping our students create Shabbat experiences. And if we do it right, and bring our resources and talents together and create a beautiful space - whether literally or metaphorically through our relationships - hopefully, the Divine presence will join us today as with the children of Israel there in the desert those many years ago.
Danielle Kranjec is the senior Jewish educator at the Edward and Rose Berman Hillel Jewish University Center of Pittsburgh.