For the week ending 20 March 2004 / 27 Adar I 5764

Parshat Vayakhel - Pikudei

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-ds specifications. Moshe blesses the people. Hashem 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.


Enough Is More Than Enough

"But the work had been enough for all the work to do it and there was extra" (36:7)

The command to build the Mishkan brought forth from the Jewish People an unprecedented wave of generosity. They brought gold and silver and copper; turquoise, purple, and scarlet wool; linen, goat hair, red-dyed ram skins, tachash skins; acacia wood; together with all manner of precious gems, spices and oil.

The Torah teaches us that work of gathering all the materials produced "enough for all the work to do it and there was extra."

If there was enough, how could there be more than enough. How could there be extra?

The Ohr HaChaim teaches us that miraculously the Mishkan accommodated all that was brought for it. In order that no one be embarrassed by the return of his or her contribution, all the "extra" became "enough." The Mishkan miraculously incorporated every gift, without it or its vessels changing in any way.

If you think about it, it really couldnt be any other way.

Back in Parshat Terumah it says, "Make Me a Mishkan (lit. a "dwelling"), and I will dwell in you." The commentators are quick to point out that the verse is a non sequitur. It should have said, "Make Me a Mishkan and I will dwell in it." Not "in you."

Every Jew has the ability to make his heart a place where the Divine Presence may dwell in this world. The Mishkan is no more that a physical representation of the longing for G-dliness that lies in every Jew.

Thus, by definition, no gift could ever be superfluous, for the Mishkan was no more that the physical embodiment of this desire to give, the desire for holiness.

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