By: HaRav Menashe Sasson
Reporting from Jerusalem, Israel
Published in the U.S.A.
Parashat Pequde begins with an accounting of the materials used in the construction of the Mishkan. “These are the accounts of the Mishkan, the Mishkan of the Testimony, as they were counted, according to the commandment of Moshe. . . .” Shemot 38:21.
Moshe Rabbeinu had received from the Jewish people the materials which were to be used in the construction of the Mishkan, and had delegated to Bezalel the task of managing and safeguarding those materials.
Moshe Rabbeinu and Bezalel were, of course, men of outstanding character. As it is written about Moshe Rabbeinu, “in My [HaShem’s] entire house, he is the trusted one.” Bamidbar 12:7.
Jewish law (Halakha) provides that Jewish leaders must, among other things, be wise, humble, and have a fear of HaShem, a loathing for money, and a good reputation. Mishneh Torah, Hilchot Sanhedrin 2:7. Halakha also provides that a Jewish leader may not “amass silver and gold to keep in his personal treasury.” Hilchot Melachim 3:4.
However, Halakha also prohibits the appointment of certain persons whose professions are less than prestigious, and, presumably, less financially remunerative. Mishneh Torah, Hilchot Melachim 1:6.
Regarding wealth, the questions become:
Regarding wealth, the Torah is teaching that a potential leader must possess character traits of honesty and incorruptibility, and be of sufficient means so that he will not be susceptible to bribery or corruption.
As for Moshe Rebbeinu accounting for materials which were to be used in the building of the Mishkan, the lesson Torah is teaching is that government must be open and transparent, regardless of how righteous our political leaders might be. A fortiori, if a leader as righteous as Moshe Rebbeinu must publicly account for valuables received for the construction of a public building, so too must our lesser, contemporary leaders account for their actions.
For example, during the COVID pandemic, Medinat Yisra’el (the State of Israel) entered into an agreement with a manufacturer of a COVID vaccine, which provides that Medinat Yisra’el will distribute a new and experimental vaccine through its state-run medical system and then provide the vaccine manufacturer with data regarding the vaccine’s use. Although the entire agreement has not been publicly released, a portion of that agreement has been leaked. Read the leaked document HERE.
In the United States, the government has agreed to release data regarding COVID vaccines; however, the U.S. government has asked a court to grant it four to five decades to complete its release of data.
In both Medinat Yisra’el and the United States (as well as elsewhere), COVID vaccine mandates have effectively forced individuals to be vaccinated, notwithstanding open questions about the vaccine’s safety. Indeed, significant numbers of adverse reactions to COVID vaccines have included death from blood clots in the heart (mostly in younger men) and miscarriages in pregnant women.
Due to the hazards presented by COVID vaccines, an Orthodox Rabbinical Court has issued a ruling stating that, with few exceptions, it is forbidden by Halakha (Jewish Law) for a person to submit to COVID vaccinations. Get the Rabbinical Court RULING IN ENGLISH or RULING IN HEBREW.
When the Torah tells of Moshe Rebbeinu providing an accounting of the materials which the Jewish “government” of its time received for the construction of the Mishkan, it is telling us not only that government should be open and transparent, but also that political leaders work for, and thus are accountable to, the people who are being governed, as opposed to the governed being servants of, and accountable to, the political leaders.
Yes, political leaders have power and prestige; however, that power and prestige should be used for the benefit of the people who are being governed and not for self-enrichment or self-aggrandizement of any kind.
After more than 2,000 years of exile, HaShem has given Eretz Yisra’el back to the Jewish people; may the Jewish people now be blessed, once again as in days of old, to acquire righteous leaders.
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Menashe Sasson is a Sephardic rabbi and American attorney who resides in Jerusalem, Israel.