Torah Weekly

For the week ending 14 March 2015 / 23 Adar I 5775

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 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.


The Book of Shmot 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.


Vayakhel: Holy For You

“And you shall guard the Shabbat for it is holy for you…” (31:14)

The secular world often views life as a battle between indulgence and abstinence, between the body and the soul — in which indulgence usually wins.

It could be that at one moment a person might choose to have an extra large Baskin/Robbins with the latest exotic mega-calorie topping, and the next moment go into his local place or worship and confess some wrongdoing. But at any one moment the motivation is either physical indulgence or spiritual abstinence.

The idea that abstinence is not synonymous with spirituality is Judaism’s gift to the world.

Shabbat is a day of calculated physical pleasure, and it is the most spiritual day of the week.

The genius of Judaism is that it does not see the body as an enemy — but as a resource. True, it is a very powerful resource, and like any powerful resource can be highly destructive in the wrong hands. You don’t let the local school children run the nuclear power plant. But as powerful a resource as is the body, it can be — and should be — elevated in the service of G-d.

The Talmud tells us that the festivals — Pesach, Succot, and maybe Shavuot too — are to be half “for G-d”, and half “for you.” Meaning, half of the time should be spent in prayer and learning Torah, and the other half in eating and physical pursuits. No such division is mentioned with regard to Shabbat. Shabbat has the power to turn even the half “for you” into “for G-d”.

“And you shall guard the Shabbat for it is holy for you…”

Even the “for you” of Shabbat is holy.

Shabbat has the power to turn even the eating and drinking and the other physical delights of the body into holiness.

Pekudei: A World of Blessing

“A hundred sockets for a hundred kikar…” (38:27)

There’s an elderly lady that sits in a nursing home in New York. Every day this is what she says: “Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift of G-d. That’s why we call it the Present.”

How does a person sensitize himself to the present that is the here-and-now?

Our Sages mandated that we make at least one hundred blessings every day. Making blessings helps to remind us constantly of all the blessings that surround us: The ability to see, to think, to enjoy the smell of fruit and flowers, the sight of the sea or great mountains, the sight of royalty, of eating a new season fruit, or seeing an old friend for the first time in years. We have blessings when a baby is born, when a loved one dies.

When we surround ourselves with blessings, we surround ourselves with blessing.

The Hebrew word beracha (blessing) is linked to the word beraicha, which means a pool of water. G-d is like an Infinite Pool of blessing, flowing goodness and enrichment into our life.

Amongst other things a beracha must include is the Hebrew word which means “L-rd”, which comes from the root Adon. In the construction of the Mishkan (the portable Temple on which G-d caused His Presence to dwell), there were exactly one hundred “sockets.” These sockets were called adanim. What is the connection between the hundred adanim and the hundred times that we call G-d by the name Adon in our daily blessings?

Just as the adanim were the foundation of the Mishkan through which G-d bestowed his Holy Presence on the Jewish People, so are our daily blessings the foundation of holiness in our lives.

  • Source: Chidushei HaRim

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