PAKOD-to count or to remember

Insights into “Word Concepts” in Torah, the Torah Portion of SHMOT Exodus 1:1–6:1.

Moshe Kempinski

Judaism Dedicating the new Torah scroll
Dedicating the new Torah scroll
צילום: PR

The Book of Breishit ( Genesis) ends with a sense of trepidation which is only magnified by the final words of the book;

Joseph said to his brothers, "I am going to die; G-d will surely remember ( Pakod Yifkod) you and take you up out of this land to the land that He swore to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob." And Joseph adjured the children of Israel, saying, "G-d will surely remember( Pakod Yifkod) you, and you shall take up my bones out of here. And Joseph died at the age of one hundred ten years, and they embalmed him and he was placed into the coffin in Egypt.( Genesis 50:24-26)

With those words the stage was set for the beginning of the exile foretold so many years prior to Abraham;

"And He said to Abram, "You shall surely know that your seed will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, and they will enslave them and oppress them, for four hundred years. (Genesis 15:13).An oppression that had its beginnings with the birth of Isaac.

After the people of Israel settled in, they began to flourish , multiply and be successful; " The children of Israel were fruitful and swarmed and increased and became very very strong, and the land became filled with them.( Exodus 1:7). That began a process ,as it always has, and always will,  that the seeds of hatred and animosity begin to germinate and take a poisonous hold over Egyptian society.

"So the Egyptians enslaved the children of Israel with back breaking labor. And they embittered their lives with hard labor, with clay and with bricks and with all kinds of labor in the fields, all their work that they worked with them with back breaking labor. "( Ibid 13-14)

Moshe ( Moses)  who miraculously survived the "infanticide decrees of Pharaoh is raised in the Royal Court. Yet when he lives up to the moral core and vision that was deeply implanted within him , he acts  and as a result must escape to Midyan.

It is only after the age of eighty that he is confronted with the burning bush on Horev, the mountain of G-d. Moshe makes a determined decision to investigate this mystery "And Moshe said: 'I will turn aside now, and see this great sight, why the bush is not burnt."( Exodus 3:3).With that determined step out of anonymity, Moshe receives a clear message that just as this small burning bush was not to be consumed, the people of Israel, his people, were not to be consumed by the fires of slavery, either.

He is told to deliver a message to his people.

He told Moshe to say to them   "Hashem, the G-d of your fathers, the G-d of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, has appeared unto me saying, " I have surely remembered you ( Pakod Pakadeti Etchem) and seen that which is done to you in Egypt'" ( Exodus 3:16).

The children of Israel heard the use of the promised "code words" uttered by Moshe ,(Pakod), and understood the message . “And the people believed; and when they heard that Hashem had remembered  ( PAKAD)  the children of Israel, and that He had seen their affliction, then they bowed their heads and worshipped. (Genesis 4: 30.31)

That word (Pakod)  is repeated thirty seven times throughout the Tanach. What, then, does the word Pakod actually mean?

The Ramban understands that the word Pakod does not merely mean to count or to remember, but rather to show concern, to take heed of other. As in "And Hashem remembered (pakad) Sarah as He had said ... and Sarah conceived" ( Genesis 21:1-2).

Then again in the book of I Samuel we read ; “For Hashem remembered (Pakad)  Hannah, and she conceived and bore three sons and two daughters. And the lad Samuel grew up with Hashem."(I Samuel 2:21)

We also see it used as a  word-concept that defines G-d's everlasting relationship with His people :

“My wrath is kindled against the shepherds, and I will visit upon the goats, for Hashem of Hosts has remembered (PAKAD) His flock, the house of Judah, and He has made it as His majestic horse in battle.”(Zecharai 10:3)

Then again;

“Now she arose with her daughters-in-law and returned from the fields of Moab, for she had heard in the field of Moab that Hashem had remembered (PAKAD)  His people to give them bread.”(RUTH 1:6)

Yet there is a deeper level, that we shall see,  encompasses all the other meanings of the word.

When David is concerned lest King Saul attempts to kill him, he decides to go into hiding. He tells his close friend Yonatan, the son of Saul, what to say if his absence at the feast of the new month will be noticed; ”  If your father is mindful (Pekod Yifkadeini) of me, you shall say, 'David took leave of me to hasten home to Bethlehem, his city, for it is the yearly sacrifice there for the whole family.' (I Samuel 20:6)

The word Pakod does not only mean “to count” but to also to make sure that nothing is missing.

“These are the numbers (Pikudei)  of the Mishkan, the Mishkan of the Testimony, which were counted at Moshe' command; [this was] the work of the Levites under the direction of Ithamar, the son of Aaron the Kohen.(Exodus 38:21)

Even more dramatically we see it in relation to Joseph himself as well;

Moshe took Joseph's bones with him, for he [Joseph] had adjured the sons of Israel, saying, G-d will surely remember (Pakod Yifkod) you, and you shall bring up my bones from here with you( Exodus 34:19)

 It is more than counting or remembering “what is”; it is about ensuring that all that needs to be there is accounted for as well. The clear message of redemption is "That No One Will Be Left Out".

Hashem's message to His people is that everyone will be accounted for. Everyone will be given the opportunity to become part. It is true that each individual will need to decide if they want to accept that invitation, but everyone will be given the opportunity.

All of Hashem's prophecies, promises and declarations are all opportunities that must be made available to all. Yet they are all opportunities waiting to be seized and if not they simply continue to wait. That was true then ,as it is as it continues to be true in our days.

LeRefuat Yehudit bat Golda Yocheved and Yehudit bat Chaya Esther