Torah Weekly

For the week ending 25 March 2017 / 27 Adar II 5777

Parshat Vayakhel - Pekudei

by Rabbi Yaakov Asher Sinclair - www.seasonsofthemoon.com
The Color of Heaven Artscroll

Overview

Vayakhel

Moshe Rabbeinu exhorts Bnei Yisrael to keep Shabbat, and requests donations for the materials for making the Mishkan. He collects gold, silver, precious stones, skins and yarn, as well as incense and olive oil for themenorah and for anointing. The princes of each tribe bring the precious stones for the Kohen Gadol's breastplate and ephod. G-d appoints Bezalel and Oholiav as the master craftsmen. Bnei Yisrael contribute so much that Moshe begins to refuse donations. Special curtains with two different covers were designed for the Mishkan's roof and door. Gold-covered boards in silver bases were connected, forming the Mishkan's walls. Bezalel made the Holy Ark (which contained the Tablets) from wood covered with gold. On the Ark's cover were two figures facing each other. The menorah and the table with the showbreads were also of gold. Two altars were made:a small incense altar of wood overlaid with gold, and a larger altar for sacrifices made of wood covered with copper.

Pekudei

The Book of Shmot concludes with this Parsha. After finishing all the different parts, vessels and garments used in the Mishkan, Moshe gives a complete accounting and enumeration of all the contributions and of the various clothing and vessels which had been fashioned. Bnei Yisrael bring everything to Moshe. He inspects the handiwork and notes that everything was made according to G-d’s specifications. Moshe blesses the people. G-d speaks to Moshe and tells him that the Mishkan should be set up on the first day of the first month, i.e. Nissan. He also tells Moshe the order of assembly for the Mishkan and its vessels. Moshe does everything in the prescribed manner. When the Mishkan is finally complete with every vessel in its place, a cloud descends upon it, indicating that G-d's glory was resting there. Whenever the cloud moved away from the Mishkan, Bnei Yisrael would follow it. At night the cloud was replaced by a pillar of fire.

Insights

Vayakhel: From the Mundane to the Sublime

“…and the seventh day shall be holy to you…” (35:2)

Rashi: “The Torah places the exhortation of Shabbat before the commanding of the labors of the Mishkan.”

The list of skilled labors necessary for the construction of the Mishkan and the observance of Shabbat appear both in this week’s Parsha and in last week’s Torah portion. But with an interesting difference: In last week’s parsha the skilled labors of the Mishkan precede the observance of Shabbat, whereas in this week’s parsha the order is reversed.

Why?

The Golden Calf was a defining moment in Jewish history. Before the Golden Calf, even mundane labor was suffused with holiness so that those labors could act as preparations to the holiness of Shabbat. After the Golden Calf, however, those labors lost their innate holiness and became worldly and non-spiritual. Thus, in this week’s parsha Shabbat is mentioned first because through Shabbat the potential still exists to raise mundane labor to the level of the Mishkan, the level of the sublime.

Pekudei: A World of Blessing

“A hundred sockets for a hundred kikar…” (38:27)

There’s an elderly lady who sits in a nursing home in New York. Every day, this is what she says, “Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift of G-d. That’s why we call it the present.”

How does a person sensitize himself to the present that is the here-and-now?

Our Sages mandated that we recite at least one hundred blessings every day. Making blessings helps to remind us constantly of all the blessings that surround us: The ability to see, to think, to enjoy the smell of fruit and flowers, the sight of the sea or great mountains, the sight of royalty, eating a new season fruit, or seeing an old friend for the first time in years. We have blessings when a baby is born, when a loved one dies.

When we surround ourselves with blessings we surround ourselves with blessing.

The Hebrew word beracha (blessing) is linked to the word bereicha, which means a pool of water. G-d is like an Infinite Pool of blessing, flowing goodness and enrichment into our life.

Amongst other things a beracha must include is the Hebrew word which means “L-rd”, which comes from the root adon. In the construction of the Mishkan (the portable Temple on which G-d caused His Presence to dwell) there were exactly 100 “sockets.” These sockets were called adanim. What is the connection between the 100 adanim and the hundred times that we call G-d by the name “Adon” in our daily blessings?

Just as the adanim were the foundation of the Mishkan through which G-d bestowed his Holy Presence on the Jewish People, so too are our daily blessings the foundation of holiness in our lives.

  • Source: Chidushei HaRim

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