Torah Weekly

For the week ending 1 March 2008 / 24 Adar I 5768

Parshat Vayakhel

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.


My Hero

“Every man whose heart inspired him… and everyone whose spirit motivates him.” (35:21)

In this week’s Torah portion, the phrase “motivation of the heart” appears numerous times. The building of the Mishkan showed a great outpouring of love for G-d. Loving G-d isn’t easy. It’s difficult to love a non-physical non-spiritual Entity about Whom ultimately we can know nothing.

How does one arrive at a love of G-d?

The book called Duties of the Heart tells us that the most powerful way to come to love G-d is “absolute awe of G-d, profound dread and fear of His presence and His commandments, and keeping in mind always that He observes your secret and your open life, your inner and your outer self.”

At first glance, these words seem more appropriate to fearing G-d than loving Him. How does dread, fear, and awe, lead to love?

Everyone has a hero. Could be your hero can throw a spiral pass from the fifty yard line, or has the best bowling average of anyone this century; or it could be your hero’s fingers fly over the fret board of an electric guitar like a dervish, or whose interpretation of Hamlet left an indelible impression on you as a teenager.

Everyone has a hero.

Now, imagine your hero calls you up out of the blue and invites you for lunch. “What, me?” The palpitations start in your chest. You stutter, trying to keep your composure, your mind is racing, your heartbeat getting quicker and quicker, “I can’t believe it!” you think to yourself.

Can you think of anything more exciting than that? What if your hero wants to be your friend? You’d flip out. You’d fall through the floor.

When someone is our hero, when we think someone is important, we are in fear of them; our respect and awe express how much love we have for them. We don’t need presents from them; we don’t want anything more from them than just to be around them, to be close to them.

In the words of our Sages, that’s called “love which does not ‘hang’ on anything.” We love that person because we think the world of them, and because we think the world of them, we are in fear and trembling of them. We don’t want to put a foot wrong that they might think less of us.

When we fear G-d, when we are awe-struck by His Majesty, it means He is our Hero.

  • Source: The Duties of the Heart, The Gate of Love of G-d, Chapter 3

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