Parshat Vayakhel


MAIN THEME: The parsha describes how the Mishkan-Tabernacle was constructed.

The Sages find an allusion to the thirty-nine categories of work prohibeted on Shabbat. The Torah states:”These are the words which G-d commanded us to do” (Shemot 35:1). and Rav Yehuda Hanasi comments (Shabbat 97b): HA DEVARIM the words EH LEH HADEVARIM -these are the words”. This refers to the thirty-nine work prohibitions handed down to Moshe at Sinai. DEVARIM being plurel, impllies at least two. The preflex HEY OF HADEVARIM adds one, making three. The numericle value of ELEH is thirty six, for a total of thirty nine.

Rashi states that Vayakhel’s warning of Shabbat (35,1-3) proceeds the section of the MISHKAN to teach that the building of the MISHKAN does not take precedence over Shabbat.

First Portion

We’re all cooped up in this body playing the game of life. One of the many aspects of this existence is to fix our mistakes whether it is transgressions done in this lifetime or in previous ones; reincarnation is an essential part of Jewish philosophy. However, if we’re able to atone for our mistakes in our lifetime, then we are very fortunate. In this week’s Parsha, we start off, “Moshe gathered the people.” This particular gathering is to fix the gathering of Aharon when the Jews sinned with the golden calf.

Why, again, does the Torah repeat the different aspects of the Mishkan? We went through a detailed course in Parsha Teruma and Tetzave. The RAMBAN addresses the question proclaiming a theme for the book of Shemot ‘exile’. The RAMBAN explains the exile doesn’t end until the Israelites reach the spiritual level of the Patriarchs Avraham, Yitzchak, and Yaacov. G-d left specific instructions about the construction of the Temple and its leaders. Only G-d picks an intermediary. He picked Moshe, as well as the Keruvim, in the Holy of Holies. The keruvim’s golden baby-faced angel-like statues, whose gestures indicated the spiritual level of the Jews. It was only picked by G-d if a human exercised the right to choose; otherwise, it would have been considered idol worship and going against G-d. The instructions were clear and should have been followed to the letter of the law; it was not. Therefore, the instructions had to be repeated.

There are thirteen times where the topic of Shabbat is mentioned in the Torah. The Torah doesn’t repeat for any reason. There is a purpose for every mention.

We derive from the fact that the topic of the Mishkan is found next to the topic of Shabbat, that there is a connection between the two. There are 39 melachot activities that were performed in the Temple. The term melachot is mentioned in the Shabbat context of “one should not do activities”. Therefore, these activities were prohibited on Shabbat.

The women were extremely enthusiastic and played an important role in contributing to the Temple. Their gold and silver were given generously this time as opposed to their reluctance to give to the golden calf.

Second Portion

The women were in the front and center in donating their Jewelry for the MISHKAN. even though its hard for women to part with their Jewelry they still were very eager to participate. The Torah , therefore, gives them recognition on their tremendous sacrifice.

Rashi says that the men and women came together, the men came with the women or close to the women, since it was important for both the husband and the wife to be comfortable with the contribution that they were making.

We see from here that the women were first with wanting to make the contributions and the husbands supported their decisions. The women were not forced in any way to give their jewelry to the mishkan but rather gave willingly since they felt that it was the right thing to do.

Third Portion

Betzalel, although, a very gifted young man, enhanced his skills through Divine spirit. He was chosen because his grandfather, Chur, tried to stop the catastrophe by the golden calf.

Fourth Portion

Chacham is translated as “wise,” and lev means “heart.” So, strictly translated, “chacham lev” means “wise heart.” Abarbenel seems to refer to “chacham lev” as “skilled labor” as he comments that: “The work of skilled artisans is also a contribution.” In other words, while some may contribute gold, silver, etc., others can contribute their expertise in building the Tabernacle

Fifth Portion

The Bnei Yisrael use Atzei Shitim to build the structure of the Mishkan and the Aron Kodesh. The Sages teach us that Yaakov said to G-d, “Bameh Tsiratzeh Al Maasei Eigel; How will you be appeased after the sin of the golden calf?’. G-d answered him, with the Atzei Shittim used in the Mishkan. “This is why,” says the Kli Yakar, “they are called Atzei Shitim Omdim. Omeid means ready to be used. Rashi explains that Yaakov Avinu knew (presumably through Ruach Hakodesh, divine inspiration) that the Jewish people would be commanded to build a Mishkan in the desert. Therefore, he planted Shittim trees in Egypt, and before passing on, told his children to take these Shittim trees out of Egypt with them to enable Bnei Yisrael to have the Shittim wood for the beams of the Mishkan. Therefore, writes Rashi, the Hay is added to explain that it is these beams, namely the beams that Yaakov Avinu planted for his descendants to use in the Mishkan, that should be used to build the Mishkan.

Sixth Portion

The golden menorah was made from one piece of gold to symbolize unity among the Israelites. It was Aharon who was later picked to light the Menorah. This honor was very appropriate, for it was he who was instrumental in making peace between Jews and unifying husbands and wives and man and his brethren. “Peace” is one of the main themes of the Temple.

Seventh Portion

• We mentioned earlier how the women’s contribution to the Temple was exceptional. The Sages say they brought their own personal copper mirrors for the construction of the kiyor, the laver. These mirrors were used by our mothers in Egypt to entice their husbands for the purpose of reproduction and to continue the existence of our great nation. It was an especially difficult task considering how tired the husbands were after being worked to the bone by their Egyptian persecutors. Their devotion of preserving the family made these mirrors, theses contributions, valuable. The waters that came out from the kiyor were used for the waters of sotah. Since the Jewish women of Egypt had proper intentions and used these mirrors for kedusha, therefore, the sotah women will be tested with these pure waters to determine if they were pure and holy like their mothers.

The kiyor was a source of bracha; it brought down rain. This is the reason we should be very careful in washing our hands, especially for bread because it’s a great segula for parnasa.

Credit to: Rabbi Avi Matmon