Torah Weekly

For the week ending 25 March 2006 / 25 Adar I 5766

Parshat Vayakhel - Pekudei

by Rabbi Yaakov Asher Sinclair -
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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 the menorah and for anointing. The princes of each tribe bring the precious stones for the Kohen Gadol's breastplate and ephod. G-d appoints Betzalel 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. Betzalel 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.


The Book of Shemot 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. Hashem 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.


The Ultimate Labor Saver

“Six days labor shall be done, and the seventh day will be holy for you…”

For as long as I can remember, one of society’s most cherished dreams has been a robot that gets all your work done for you.

In the late fifties we were regaled with fanciful concoctions of tin cans that looked like Tin-Man-rejects from The Wizard of Oz, complete with an apron and a happy mechanical smile. In the sixties, wacky inventors produced little motorized “home-puppies” that scooted around cleaning the carpet and sweeping the floors. Nowadays robotics has reached amazing levels. Watching a car being assembled today is an eerie experience with nary a human in sight. (Except of course to execute the mandatory strike for shorter hours and better working conditions.)

I want to let you in on a secret. The Ultimate Labor Saver has been in existence for over three thousand years. The trouble is that many people don’t know how to operate it.

“Six days labor shall be done, and the seventh day will be holy for you…”

The grammar of this verse is unusual. The Torah doesn’t say you can do labor for six days; rather it expresses itself in the passive, “labor shall be done.”

When we keep Shabbat, G-d’s blessings rest on all our workday efforts. If you’re a creative writer for an ad agency, suddenly you’ll find a brilliant new concept just wafts into your consciousness from out of nowhere on Tuesday morning. If you’re a cabinetmaker, all the shelves that you cut are a perfect fit. If you’re a pilot, you’ll find that there’s a break in the weather allowing you a landing-window at your destination, avoiding a three-hour delay and a few hundred irate passengers. The list is as endless as the activities of Man. When we keep Shabbat properly, even if we don’t overly exert ourselves, we will find that things just seem to get done that little bit quicker and better.

Shabbat is the Ultimate Labor Saver.

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