Torah Weekly

For the week ending 21 March 2009 / 25 Adar I 5769

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. 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.


Wisdom of the Heart

“Every wise-hearted person among you shall come and make everything that G-d has commanded …” (35:10)

There are two ways a religious person can look at an airplane flight. A series of tiring inconveniences punctuated by the occasional real bummer, or an opportunity to be an ambassador for the Jewish People and G-d.

Assuming that we all want to be in the latter category, here are some Guidelines for the Ambassador:

  1. When you arrive at the check-in, make sure that you do not push in line. Better, offer to let someone who seems to be in a rush go in front of you. (It always amazes me how people want to jump ahead to get on the plane – but the plane leaves at the same time for everyone.)
  2. Smile. You're on Candid Camera!
  3. Make sure you say, "Have a nice day!" to people with whom you speak: the check-in person; the flight attendants; the security and the immigration personnel.
  4. When you board the flight look for a short non-religious lady/gentleman (elderly is better) struggling to put his/her bag into the overhead locker. Bound over and say, "Excuse me, can I help?" You have sanctified the name of G-d in front of a couple of hundred people.
  5. Before reclining your seat always make sure to ask the person behind if they mind.
  6. Usually the "strictly kosher" food arrives before the rest of the plane is served. Better to wait till everyone else is served before starting.
  7. In the arrival hall try and help a lady or elderly person remove their heavy case from the carousel.
  8. Say "Thanks for looking after us!" to the police who usually supervise the luggage carousel when flights come in from Israel.
  9. Never smuggle anything.

When the Holy Temple stood in Jerusalem there was a revelation of the Divine Presence in the world that is impossible for us to imagine. It's like trying to describe a sunrise to someone who was born blind.

We live in a world of spiritual blindness where little light reaches our eyes. The Jewish People, however, still have the power to reveal the Divine in our midst. The verse says "And I will dwell in them." G-d says that His Divine Presence will dwell eternally in the Jewish People even when the wood and stones of the Beit HaMikdash have lain in ruins for millennia.

Just as it took a wise-hearted person to build the Mishkan that revealed G-d’s presence on Earth, so too each of us can reveal the Divine Name with a little wisdom of the heart.

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