Pekudei

Just as the Lord had commanded Moses, so the Israelites had done all the work. And when Moses saw that they had performed all the tasks – as the Lord had commanded, so they had done – Moses blessed them. - Exodus 39:42-43

These verses from the last chapter in the Book of Exodus refer to the building and furnishing of the Tent of Meeting, including the bakers’ preparation of the 12 display breads. Ramban points out that in the first verse, the Torah uses the word avodah for “work” rather than melakhah, the term used in the second verse and for work that is prohibited on Shabbat. Avodah reinforces that the work is in the service of God.

A beautiful midrash (Bam. Rab. 12, 9) teaches that when the Israelites had done all of the work in the service of God by completing the tasks required for the Tent of Meeting, Moses blessed them with these words:

“May it be God’s will that the Shekhinah rest upon the work of your hands, and May the favor of the Lord, our God, be upon us; let the work of our hands prosper (Ps. 90:17).”

When our baking is avodah, we, too, become worthy of this blessing.

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