Torah Weekly

For the week ending 26 February 2011 / 21 Adar I 5771

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 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.


If you think you’re complete – you’re finished.

“The cherubim…their faces toward one another.” (37:9)

Do you know where the word “cherub” comes from?

Cherub comes from the Hebrew kruv. The kruvim were solid gold statues extruded from the cover of the Aron Hakodesh (the Holy Ark), which contained the Torah and the Tablets of the Covenant. Kruv comes from the Aramaic – k’ravia – which means “like a child.” They were called kruvim because they both had the face of child.


A child is like a new immigrant. He learns with great rapidity the language of his new host country. Youth’s greatest asset is the ability to change, to be flexible, to be open-minded. The essence of Torah is to remain as flexible and adaptable as we were as children.

If you ask someone to define a talmid chacham, he’llprobably tell you it’s someone who has a large and deep knowledge of the Torah.

True. However, literally, a talmid chacham translates as “a student of a sage.”

In Judaism, the essence of being a sage is to always be a student. A talmid chacham, by definition,is someone who never stops learning, who never feels himself complete, but is constantly growing in his knowledge of Torah, in character, and in his awareness of G-d. A person who does this makes himself a vehicle through which holiness descends to the world.

The biggest insult in the vocabulary of a great sage of the previous generation was that someone was a “fartige” – literally “a finished one.”

If you think you’re complete – you’re really finished.

  • Source: Chochma u’Mussar 190

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