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Pekudai: Forgotten Souls

At the beginning of the Torah portion of Pekudai, Moses gives a detailed accounting of the money donated to the Tabernacle. Every Jew gave half a shekel (a particular coin of money). Since there were 603,550 people, that makes 301,775 shekels. Every 3000 shekels is a bar of silver. As such, there were one hundred full bars. The Torah relates, “And the one hundred bars of silver were for casting the bases of the Sanctuary and the bases of the veil, one hundred bases for one hundred bars, a bar for a base”[1] (וַיְהִי מְאַת כִּכַּר הַכֶּסֶף לָצֶקֶת אֵת אַדְנֵי הַקֹּדֶשׁ וְאֵת אַדְנֵי הַפָּרֹכֶת מְאַת אֲדָנִים לִמְאַת הַכִּכָּר כִּכָּר לָאָדֶן). What was done with the rest of the silver? The Torah continues, “And from the one thousand seven hundred and the five and seventy [shekels of silver] he made hooks for the posts, and overlays for their tops, and band around them” (וְאֶת הָאֶלֶף וּשְׁבַע הַמֵּאוֹת וַחֲמִשָּׁה וְשִׁבְעִים עָשָׂה וָוִים לָעַמּוּדִים וְצִפָּה רָאשֵׁיהֶם וְחִשַּׁק אֹתָם).

The sages say[2] that Moses initially forgot what had been done with the 1775 remaining shekels, until God illuminated his eyes and he saw that they had been used for the hooks for the posts. What is the significance of this?

The Residual Souls

There are 600,000 soul-roots in the people of Israel. These soul-roots can each serve as a source for the life force in many individuals. Every soul-root has its own letter in the Torah, as alluded to in a famous acronym derived from the name, Yisrael (יִשְׂרָאֵל): “There are six hundred thousand letters in the Torah” (יֵשׁ שִׁשִּׁים רִבּוֹא אוֹתִיּוֹת לַתּוֹרָה). All the souls are engraved on the heart of Moses, the giver of the Torah. His soul includes all the souls of Israel.

There are, however, souls that are so far removed that they seem like they are “residue.” These residual, downtrodden souls do not have a letter in the Torah! They are represented by the 3550 half-shekels that remained after the 600,000 half-shekels had been counted. That is why Moses is not initially aware of them. He cannot remember what was done with their silver; it seems as though they have no portion in the Jewish people, God forbid.

Connections, Teshuvah, and Redemption

It is specifically in these forgotten souls, however, that the secret of redemption is concealed. A person who apparently has no letter in the Torah, no manifest connection to the Torah, and has practically been lost can turn into the greatest returnee to God—the greatest ba’al teshuvah. Generally, our connection to God is channeled through the Torah, as is written in the Zohar, “Israel is intertwined with the Torah and the Torah is intertwined with the Holy Blessed One.”

But, as explained in length in Chasidic teachings, there is actually a third concealed knot that binds Israel—the Jewish souls—directly to God. It is specifically these lost souls who, as it were, have no detectable connection to the Torah, who can reveal the concealed bond tying all souls directly to God. That is why the silver from these souls was used to make, “the hooks of the posts” (וָוִים לָעַמּוּדִים). The Hebrew word for “hook” is literally the name of the letter vav (וָו). In Hebrew Grammar, the letter vav can act both as a conjunctive “and” and as a temporal reversal—changing a verb from future tense to past tense. the connecting hooks. These residual souls thus have the special capacity to: a) Reveal the intrinsic connection between the Jewish people and God (and the connection between all Jews, which stems from their source in “One God”; b) to reverse time by returning to God out of love, thus transforming all the sins into merits and bringing the redemption.

[1]. Exodus 38:28.

[2]. Tanchuma, Pekudei 7.

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