Torah Weekly

For the week ending 5 March 2016 / 25 Adar I 5776

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.


Make ‘Em Laugh, Make ‘Em Cry

“...And the seventh day will be to you holy, a Shabbat of Shabbatot to G-d…” (35:2)

Anyone who has ever prayed really well — even once in his life — is never the same again.

Even if we can never achieve again that sublime contact, a spiritual postcard will forever hang in our souls to remind us of that view.

The “Aggada” — the sections of the Talmud that conceal the deeper secrets of the Torah — relates that the students of Rabbi Akiva once found him crying on Shabbat. He said, “I am having pleasure.”

Because of his intense connection to G-d, tears welled and fell from his eyes. The Zohar Chadash says that he wept greatly when saying the Song of Songs, for he perceived how high those words reached.

Our Sages talk of the time before the coming of Mashiach as the “Ikvata d’Mashicha” — the word ikvata is related to the word “eikev”, meaning “heel.” The Jewish People are compared to the body of a man. We are the generation of the heel, the lowest part of the body. The heel is the least sensitive part of the body, and our generation is perhaps notable for its lack of sensitivity. In a way, this is a blessing, for if we really understood how low we are, we would be totally broken.

The heel is the least sensitive part of the body; you can stick a pin in the heel and barely feel it, but it is extremely sensitive to being tickled. Our generation is so insensitive, but virtually anything can send us off into paroxysms of laughter.

And if we don’t laugh on cue, the studio FX man is standing by ready to dub in some “canned” laughter. Laughter is de rigeur.

Much, if not most, discourse, even of matters of state and finance and medicine and the like are carried on in the media amidst palpably forced laughter.

In Shir Hama’alot (Psalms 126:2) we say, “Then will our mouths be filled with laughter.”

Only when Mashiach comes will we experience true laughter, the laughter that comes from the revelation of happiness beyond our wildest dreams. That is what it will be like.

There was once a Jewish girl, a stand-up comedienne in LA, who used to say in the middle of her act, “Comedy is dead. What you’re laughing at is ridicule.” She was wrong. Comedy isn’t dead — but it’s very fast asleep.

Only “then will our mouths be filled with laughter”. But in the meantime, the true feeling of being connected to G-d can bring tears of joy to our eyes.

  • Sources: based on the Taz, Orach Chaim, 288b, as seen in Talalei Orot

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