Parshat Vayakhel-Pekudei: Building the Impossible

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Flower in Pavement
17 Mar 2009
Arts & Media

This story takes place on a backdrop of indeterminate material. Indeed, even the characters living within the setting of this story – the lives which the ink breathes – consist of a substance difficult to define, and therefore very nearly impossible to capture.

But Difficult, Impossible are only words. And, as words, are subject to the writer’s whim.

Once upon a time, a time not limited to the chimes of a clock but rather a time ticking within us all, there was a Wilderness. Do you know what a Wilderness is? A Wilderness is a place where no man lives, a place where beasts run wild, where there is no rhyme to existence and the broken bodies that roam throughout its vast expanse think themselves inconsequential, that they are superfluous creatures, mistakes in a place very privy to them. Those of the Wilderness feel nothing, want to feel nothing; do not know there is anything to feel. A Wilderness, my dear child, is a very sad place, and you should never know of it.

But, though there was this Wilderness, this time and place perhaps happening now and here, there was also something more, something preceding the Wilderness, something hard to define – so let us call it a Purpose. This Purpose, this something beyond Wilderness, above Wilderness, before and over and after Wilderness is something special. Unlike Wilderness, Purpose doesn’t just show up on a doorstep; it may come from within but like anything deep it must be cultivated and cared for. Wilderness is a state of being, being impurely physical. Purpose is a state of becoming, becoming purely spiritual. And with Purpose a Home is built in the Wilderness.

I see that look on your face, sweet child, as you wonder: How of a Wilderness purposeless, a place devoid of Divinity, does a Purpose, a Home for the Divine sprout? Wonder is good my child, it helps us learn and understand.

Picture this my child: every single character in this story, this story of Life, is unique; each walks and leaps with a specific purpose, each holds in his or her hands a mission only he or she can fulfill. As we paint on, the picture broadens, wider yet: every leaf has a reason, every strand of gold contains a fire, within every grain of sand a Divine energy, under every bridge knowledge flows, above every hill hope flies – and within every Wilderness a Purpose awaits.

It is not very difficult to picture, my child; this is Reality. What we see with the eyes in our face is merely the face of the universe; but if we were only to open the eyes within our soul we will see the soul, the Purpose of it all.

It is called building a sanctuary, my child: A dwelling for the Divine is built by many individuals, many materials, many sparks, perhaps no two the same (if they were it’d be redundant), but they are all part of the same fire, all burning for the same Purpose.

I know, it is quite difficult, almost close to impossible, to see how someone so different from ourselves can have a part in the building of a unified Sanctuary.

But Difficult, Impossible, are only words. And, as words, they are subject to the writer’s whim.

You are the writer, child. And your whim is seeing the Sanctuary in everyone, in everything.

And how of a Wilderness, a Purpose is built.

Mendel Jacobson is a writer, poet and journalist living in Brooklyn. His weekly poetry can be seen at

The words of this author reflect his/her own opinions and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Orthodox Union.