Parshat Vayakhel\Pekudei Vol.10 No.25

Date of issue: 29 Adar 5761 -- March 24, 2001

This week’s issue has been sponsored
by the Chaitovsky family in honor of Avi-Gil, 
who, with his classmates, 
has raised the bar at TABC.
Chazak Ve'ematz.

How to sponsor

This week's featured writers:

Rabbi Herschel Solnica
Avi-Gil Chaitovsky
Josh Strobel
Jason Kay
Rabbi Howard Jachter
-*Omitting Tachanun on Pesach Sheini*
Halacha of the Week
Food For Thought
-by *David Gertler*

Appointments and Responsibilities
by Rabbi Herschel Solnica

The Sedra of Pekudei gives a detailed accounting of the raw material and cost of the Mishkan Ha'eidut, the Holy Tabernacle. The Or Hachaim gives a sharp insight into the deeper meaning of this Sedra. He sums it up into 5 Minyanim, basic appointments and responsibilities. This is the meaning of the word Pekudim.

1) As long as Bnai Yisrael study and keep the Torah, the Mishkan will stand.
2) Moshe is charged with the task of teaching the laws that apply to every segment of the Mishkan.
3) The Leviim are to study and be proficient in the maintenance of the Mishkan.
4) Aharon and his sons have the sacred duty and responsibility of being ready, able, and willing to perform the service of the Mishkan.
5) Betzalel and Ahaliav must be ready to design and build all the Bigdei Kehuna properly.

This is not simply a Sedra for accounting and listing money and raw materials, but one that calls for Cheshbon Hanefesh, introspection, asking ourselves if we are doing our job properly.

I once asked a student if he could pass a subject in school without studying. The answer, of course, was no. Can we expect moral and decent Jews in the next generation if our language is filled with colloquial, unprintable words? Can we expect a better product from our children when adults, parents, and educators fail the resolve to be true role models? Can we expect true Torah children when our children are allowed to meander, hang out, and be at risk? Can we give permission to our progeny to stay out late and not be accounted for and then expect them to be fine young people? Can we expect our young ones to be better than ourselves if we use abusive language or curse words, if we drink, smoke, or are abusive to members of our family?

Parents, administrators, teachers, and students must all resolve that each of us have moral and civil responsibilities. Moshe, Aaron, Betzalel, you, and I cannot ignore our jobs. Doing our jobs is and must be the answer to cursing, drug use, lack of proper Tefillah, and dress unfit for work at any respectable business establishment, let alone for learning Torah.

This is the Sedra of Chazak. Let us give ourselves Chizuk first and then we can make ourselves appropriate role models for our children, students, and all of humanity.

Sefer Shemot: 
Rising, Falling, and Rising Again

by Avi-Gil Chaitovsky

As we conclude Sefer Shemot this week, one may recall that just a few months ago we read at the beginning of the Sefer that Bnai Yisrael were slaves in Mitzrayim. We read about the ten plagues and the splitting of the sea. We read about Bnai Yisrael’s first few problems in the desert — their lack of food, lack of water, and an attack by Amalek. Then we heard the Aseret Hadevarim, the ten commandments, that formed the basis of the Brit (covenant) between Hashem and Bnai Yisrael. Our system of civil law was established and Moshe was commanded to build the Mishkan.

Last week, in Parshat Ki Tisa, the rise from slavery in Mitzrayim to a Mamlechet Kohanim Vegoy Kadosh, “kingship of Kohanim and a holy nation,” came to a sudden halt. After Moshe “disappeared” on Har Sinai for forty days and forty nights, Bnai Yisrael grew restless, Aharon threw their jewelry into a fire, and the Eigel Maseicha emerged. When Moshe returned he smashed the Luchot, and with it the Brit that Hashem had established with His nation. Moshe was able to restore the Brit, however: Vayinachem Hashem Al Haraah Asher Diber Laasot Le'amo, “And Hashem was consoled from the evil that he wanted to do to his nation” (32:14).

The Sefer, it seems, should end with one simple Pasuk that tells of the construction of the Mishkan. Now we can continue to Sefer Vayikra and learn about the Avoda, the service of the Mishkan. Yet, this is not the case. Instead of one Pasuk, the Torah takes 214 Pesukim to inform us of the Mishkan’s construction — the entirety of this double Parsha. If the Torah does not contain even one letter that is unnecessary, why does it need to repeat all the details of the Mishkan that we heard in Parshiot Terumah, Tetzave, and the beginning of Ki Tisa, when Hashem gave Moshe the command?

When comparing the two descriptions of the Mishkan, a small set of important differences emerge:
One difference that is often pointed out is the order of construction. When Hashem told Moshe to build the Mishkan, He first instructed Moshe to build the Aron, the Shulchan, and the Menorah. Only after the command to build these Keilim, holy articles, did Hashem describe the building that would house them. Yet, when Betzalel built the Mishkan, he constructed the building before the Keilim. This is easy to explain: When Hashem commanded Moshe to construct the Keilim before commanding him to construct the building, He was informing Moshe that the Keilim were more important than the building itself. When Betzalel built the Mishkan, however, he was much more practical — build the building first, and then its “furniture.” (See Berachot 55a)
A more profound difference, one that relates to the entirety of Sefer Shemot, is seen many times throughout this double Parsha. The promise of Hashem, Ve'asu Li Mikdash Veshachanti Betocham, “Build Me a sanctuary, and I will dwell among you” (25:8), is no longer present. The Urim and the Tumim, stones that had the ineffable name of Hashem etched upon them, that were to be put in the Choshen of the Kohen Gadol, are not mentioned during the construction. We are not told Venoadti Lecha Sham Al Aron Haeidut, that Hashem would meet with Bnai Yisrael from the Aron, as we were in Parshat Terumah (25:22). The prohibition against removing the Badim, the carrying poles, from the Aron is also omitted.

Why has the Mishkan changed? Did Moshe forget some of the Halachot? Did Betzalel not follow the word of Hashem? Or is there some greater reason that the Mishkan is described in full detail so we can point out the differences between the initial command and the actual construction?

The latter seems to be the most viable. The Mishkan was a testimony to the Brit between Hashem and the nation. When the nation violated the Brit by worshipping the Eigel, the nature of the Brit changed. Granted, Hashem did not carry out the evil that He wished to do to His nation, but that does not mean that everything went back to the way it was originally. Every fast day we are reminded that the second Luchot were different from the first — while Hashem made the first Luchot Himself, the second Luchot were made by Moshe (Pesol Lecha). If the Brit changed, then surely the Mishkan, the physical representation of the Brit, should change as well.

No longer were we assured of Hashem’s presence —we showed Hashem that we were not deserving of that promise because we may once again turn to other gods, Chas Veshalom. The Urim Vetumim were also no longer given to us; we were not worthy of having a way to communicate with Hashem by asking the Urim Vetumim a question like a “magic 8-ball,” Lehavdil. And we certainly were not worthy of Venoadti Lecha Sham; no longer could we meet with Hashem from atop the Aron.

We see that we were not at the highest point when the Sefer concludes. The highest point was reached right before Chait Ha'eigel. From there, we descended and then ascended again, but not to the level we had once attained. In fact, it seems that we never reached that high point again — we never restored the Brit to what it once was. For 3000 years we have been operating on a Brit that is less than what it could have been. The only time that we may be able to completely rebuild the Brit is with the building of the third Bait Hamikdash, Bimheira Beyameinu.

Work for Shabbat
by Josh Strobel

In the beginning of Parshat Vayakhel, the Torah discusses Shabbat using the words, “Six days you shall work, and on the seventh day it will be for you holy…” (35:2). Some early authorities (including the Behag) teach that this Pasuk tells us that there is a Mitzva to work during the week.

Chazal in Masechet Avot state that one should “love work” and “chose a trade.” Chazal praise people who perform the Mitzva of keeping themselves busy. Furthermore, in the desert Bnai Yisrael didn’t have the food fall right on their doorsteps. Hashem gave them the ?? so they could go out and quickly pick it, implying the value of exerting effort in order to put bread on one’s table.

On the other hand, the Ohr Hachaim says that if one observes Shabbat then he will have others do the work for him, in accordance with Rabbi Yishmael’s view (see Berachot 35b). Also, this may be why the Pasuk says “six days work may be done” (31:15) instead of stating “six days shall you do work,” implying that somebody will do work, but not necessarily you.

Rabbi Aharon Levin says that the reason the Torah here says Shabbat Shabbaton is because if one does not have a job during the week the Shabbat will be diminished instead of enlightened. Shabbaton comes to teach that Shabbat becomes smaller like we see a smaller man is called an Ishan rather than an Ish.

Chazal in Pirkei Avot teach, “work combined with Torah is a fine thing,” and “Torah without work leads to idleness.” Rabbi Chaim Vital adds that the week is to provide for the family but the Shabbat is holy because it is a day for Torah study. When we keep our jobs and provide for our family, we are not only enhancing our lives, but also our Shabbat.

The Mishkan Lives!
Jason Kay

When our Parsha talks about the making of the planks, Rav Elie Munk comments that the numerous repetitions of the details concerning the construction of the Mishkan are all the more surprising as the Torah usually presents its laws and historical narratives in a shorter fashion (e.g. in 10:10). The Netziv explains it in terms of the Talmudic principle: Whenever the Torah repeats a passage, it does so to add previously unstated detail (Bava Kama 64b).

Rav Hirsch interprets the repetition of the details concerning the Mishkan as an indication of Betzalel and Ahaliav’s awareness of their holy work. Every detail and minor step was done with holy meaning and symbolism. The concentration upon the underling symbolic meaning was crucial.

Rabbeinu Bachya compares the specifications pertaining to the Mishkan, which cover half of Sefer Shemot, with the laws of the sacrificial service, which are also extensive, covering more then half of Sefer Vayikra. In fact, the Torah observes that although the sacrificial laws were only relevant during the time of the Bait Hamikdash, the Torah described its laws at great length. This is an indication of the importance of the theoretical study of the sacrificial laws. Hashem considers the study of the laws of the sacrifices equivalent to actually offering the sacrifices and so He pardons the sins of those who engage in this study (Taanit 27b).

The same concept applies to the Mishkan. The diligent study of its complex concepts elevates man to higher spheres of thought. There, far from all material preoccupations, he rediscovers the spirit of holiness that filled the Mishkan and later the Bait Hamikdash. Hence, although now the Mishkan is no longer in existence, it continues to fulfill its mission. Through our study of its laws, it continues to live among us. Moreover, by insisting on repeating these laws, the Torah arouses our interest and draws our attention to the great importance of the basic ideal of a Divine dwelling place in man’s midst.

King David (Tehillim 48:13-15) expressed this thought as follows: “Walk about Zion and go around her. Count her towers, mark you well her ramparts, admire her palaces; that you may tell it to generations that Hashem is our God forever and ever. It is He who will guide us eternally.”

Halacha of the Week

It is best to have red wine at the Seder (Shulchan Aruch 472:11). See the Mishna Berura (472:38) why white wine was preferred during certain times in Jewish History. Poskim regard pink wine as red wine. Please consult your Rav for guidance.

Food for Thought
by David Gertler

1) This week’s Haftarah (Yechezkel 46:4) seems to symbolize a weekday with a sheep, and Shabbat with a ram. How do these animals relate to these days?

If you have a response to this question, please contact us at Responses may be published upon agreement of the provider.

Staff at time of publication:
Editors-in-Chief: Avi-Gil Chaitovsky, Dani Gross
Managing Editor: Moshe Glasser
Publication Editor & Webmaster: Daniel Wenger
Business Manager: Ilan Tokayer
Staff: Josh Dubin, Zev Feigenbaum, Shuky Gross, Michael Humphrey, Yair Manas, Uriel Schechter
Consultant: David Gertler
Faculty Advisor: Rabbi Howard Jachter

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