Don Isaac Abravanel, sometimes spelled Abravanel (1437-1508) was a seminal Jewish thinker, scholar, and prolific Biblical
commentator. Exodus 38 examines another aspect of the Tabernacle – through the lens of an
accountant or auditor, sort of. “These are the accounts of the Tabernacle…”

“These are the accounts of the Tabernacle, even the Tabernacle of
Testimony, as they were rendered according to the commandment of
Moses, through the service of the Levites, by the hand of Ithamar, the
son of Aaron the priest. And Bezalel the son of Uri…made all that God
commanded Moses.”

Abravanel discusses the nature of this accounting or ledger of the raw material that went into building
the Tabernacle and its vessels. But first, he teaches what the ledger WAS NOT.

Abravanel understands that the Torah did not need to record the amount of gold, silver, or any other
valuable gift brought by the good-hearted Hebrew donors earmarked for the Tabernacle enterprise.
Neither, according to Abravanel, was it necessary to document how much raw material went into each
vessel (ark, table, lampstand etc.) in order to determine if there were ample resources to cover the costs
of the end product. That is because the artisans had not entered, to use a bookkeeping term, the influx
of the resources. Similarly, donors gave freely, without weighing or measuring their gifts.

In a word, people brought their gifts in a spirit of altruism. For his part, Moses never questioned the
craftsmen’s or the donors’ integrity. Oftentimes, the craftsmen themselves contributed to the vessels
they were assembling. Given this pervasive atmosphere of goodwill and honesty, why order an audit?
Who would even remotely consider stealing or embezzling from the Tabernacle fund?

Here is what Abravanel learns to be the rationale behind our lead verse: “These are the accounts of the
Tabernacle…” Even though a public announcement requested the Jews to refrain from bringing more
contributions, and even though the men and women complied with the request, still and all, there were
adequate funds to comfortably complete the Tabernacle and its holy accoutrements. “For the stuff they
had was sufficient for all the work to make it, and too much.”

In summary, after earlier chapters described the Tabernacle and its fixtures, delineating the type of raw
material needed to produce everything, our chapter tallies the valuables that had been collected (29
talents of gold, 100 talents of silver etc.). Why? To illustrate that everything worked out wonderfully,
despite the fact that no one adhered to accepted bookkeeping and accounting principles.

Generous Hebrews rose to the occasion, as the Bible makes explicit. Furthermore, the verse underscores
the trustworthiness of the artisans. “These are the accounts of the Tabernacle…” The previous Torah
section (Vayakhel) spelled out what Moses commanded the Hebrews to perform. Our section verifies
the fulfillment of the prophet’s instructions without cutting corners or scrimping.