Pekudei: How Were the Pyramids Built?

February 24, 2022

Elon Musk tweeted that aliens built them, the prevailing tradition is that the Israelites built them, and Egyptian scholars claim that Egyptians built them. But everyone is still amazed: how did they manage to move such heavy stones? And why couldn’t the Levites use the same technology in erecting the Tabernacle?

A. Who Erected the Tabernacle?

In this week’s Torah portion, the preparation of the Tabernacle is finally complete (Source 1). The Torah says that Moses himself was the one to assemble it (Source 2). Why? Rashi Explains that it was too difficult for the Israelites, so G-d commanded Moses to act as if he was assembling it, and He made it rise miraculously (Source 3).

As the Rebbe points out, these are two elements to this: First of all, its assembly could only take place miraculously, second, G-d insisted on making it look as if a human being was doing it. More importantly, if it was so difficult to assemble, the Levites must have experienced the same miracle at every stop.

B. Pyramid Builders Can’t Erect a Tent?

But the main question is, the Rebbe says, why was it so difficult? These were laborers who accomplished mass construction projects while in Egypt. Was it really so difficult to erect a few panels?

The answer: In Egypt, they functioned under conditions of slave labor — and G-d doesn’t expect that of us. Nor does He want to give us superhuman powers; He wants us to do our part, and He will fill in the rest.

C. Do Your Part…

This is true in the life of every person: G-d doesn’t want our slave labor; He wants us to work hard, indeed, but it needs to come out of our own volition. And when we do our part, G-d fills in the rest (Source 4-5).



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