Parashat Vayakhel-Pekudei

Shabbat / Blessing in your work comes from Hashem

Moshe summons the people to charge them with the building of the Mishkan. He prefaces those instructions with the command to keep the Shabbat, to teach us that the Mishkan could not be built on Shabbat. However, instead of just telling us not to work on Shabbat, the posuk says instead ‭ ‬ששת‭ ‬ימים‭ ‬תעשה‭ ‬מלאכה, on six days work may be done. First, why does it say תעשה ,tay-ah-se, in the passive: work will be done. It should have said, תעשה ,tah-uh-se,you shall do? Also, why the need to preface that one needs to work for six days to tell us we can’t work on the seventh?

Reb Shlomo Ganzfried says that this posuk informs us that only one who believes wholeheartedly that sustenance is prearranged to each person from heaven and is not determined on one’s effort is able to rest peacefully on Shabbat. Contrast that to one who believes that his sustenance is determined by the amount of work he puts in, he will certainly be troubled all day by the thought that he has to stop working for the day which is holding back him from earning a living.

A person like that will have a very hard time keeping the Shabbat. Therefore, the posuk tells us, six days work will be done; don’t think it’s you that’s doing the work and making it happen; rather all the blessing in your work comes from Hashem. It’s like work done by itself, that’s why it says that the work will be done, for it’s really Hashem who’s doing the work for you. When a person will internalize this, then and only then will one be able to really keep the next part of the posuk, that the seventh day will be holy for you.

There was a talmid chacham who recounted a story that proves this point. When he was young, his father was a builder who was building the first twenty houses in a new settlement in Eretz Yisroel. The biggest expense he had in the building was the cement, for they had to import it at great expense from outside the land. The delivery came one Friday afternoon in the summer, hundreds of open barrels of cement.

After they had taken the delivery it was already late in the afternoon so all the workers went back home to their town of Yaffo. Suddenly, the sky went dark and it looked like any moment the heavens would open up and there would be a storm. The workers came running over to the builder and said we have to go back; since all the barrels are open, if it rains, the cement will get wet, harden and be ruined, a tremendous loss. We have to go back and cover the barrels. However, with the time left until Shabbat it would be impossible to do the job without desecrating the Shabbat. The builder said, no! I will not sell Shabbat for all the money in the world. No one should go back and desecrate the Shabbat for me.

As expected, that Friday night it poured and poured. It was obvious that this man had lost a fortune; however, he acted as if nothing had happened. He still had a smile on his face; he sang zemirot; he talked divrei torah at the meals and acted like he would on any other Shabbat, truly personifying that on Shabbat one should feel as though all his work is done.

After Shabbat, he started to think about his great loss and how all his cement that he paid so much for, all went to waste. He took his wagon and went to see the damage for himself. As he got closer to his building, he couldn’t believe his eyes. All his barrels of cement were totally covered and sealed, nothing was lost. He couldn’t believe it and wanted to touch the miracle with his own hands. He went over to one of the barrels, took off the cover, ran his fingers through the cement and, yes, it was still dry and good to use, a miracle.

Afterwards, he found out that the street pavers had sent people to go cover their barrels of cement. In the confusion of the darkness and the impending storm, they had covered the wrong barrels saving this man’s fortune. This man, whose dedication to Shabbat was unwavering, who acted like he didn’t have a care in the world on Shabbat, had Hashem’s protection. Hashem made sure he was taken care of. So, too, if we could recognize that success happens through the hand of Hashem, then we, too, will be able to really make the Shabbat holy!

By Yitzy Adlin

15 Steps To Freedom

3. Karpas

We take a green vegetable and bless G-d for creating fruits from the ground. Gratitude is liberating. “Who is the rich person?” asks the Talmud. “The one who’s satisfied with what he’s got.” This appreciation comes through focusing on details. For example, to get this green vegetable to our table, it had to be planted, harvested, packed, shipped, unloaded, unpacked, displayed, and rung up by a cashier – before we even bring it home! If we truly appreciate all we have, we’ll be constantly proclaiming: “Life is a wonderful gift!” (On a deeper level, we dip the vegetable in salt water to let us know that even those things which appear bitter — a lost job or a broken relationship — are ultimately for the best.) Gratitude is an attitude. It requires constant effort and attention. A Jew strives to say 100 blessings every day. The reward is emancipation.

4. Yachatz

We break the middle matza, and put it aside to serve later as the Afikomen. Why do we break the matza now if we don’t need it until later? Because a key to freedom is to anticipate the future and make it real. The definition of maturity is the ability to trade a lower pleasure now for a higher pleasure later. Children lack this perspective and demand instant gratification. (Why not eat 10 candies now? Because you’ll get a stomache-ache later!) The challenge of adulthood is training ourselves to look at the long-term consequences. “Who is the wise man?” asks the Talmud. “The one who sees the future.” We break the middle matza, not for now, but for later. Because true freedom is a long-term proposition.

5. Maggid

The Sages tell us that the unique ability given to humanity is the power of speech. Speech is the tool of building and construction. G-d used it to create the world (“And G-d said: Let there be light.”). On Seder night, we use our gift of speech for the central part of the hagada: telling the Passover story. The very word “Pesach” is a contraction of the words “Peh Sach,” meaning “the mouth speaks.” The Hebrew name for Pharaoh, on the other hand, is a combination of “Peh Rah,” meaning “the bad mouth.” For just as speech has the power to build, it also has the power to destroy. Gossip and slander drive apart families and communities. On Passover, we use speech to “build” humanity – by communicating, connecting, and encouraging each other. We stay up long into the night, relating the story of our exodus, tasting and sharing the joy of freedom.

6. Rachtzah

One aspect of freedom is the ability to elevate ourselves above the lowest common denominator on the street. We’ve all felt the sensory assault of billboards, gratuitous talk-radio, immodest fashions, and violence on TV. At the Seder we wash our hands as a preparatory step before the matza, in order to carefully consider what it is we’re about to eat. One who is concerned with spiritual and physical health is discriminating about all forms of consumption: which movies to watch, which friends to spend time with, and what standards of business ethics to uphold. The streets are filled with a multitude of options. But we must not consume indiscriminately. We “wash our hands” to cleanse and distance ourselves from unhealthy influences. Freedom is the ability to say: “I choose not to partake.”

facts of life: take this serious

Every Role Is very important

Moshe asked the Jewish people to donate gold, silver and copper for the construction of the Tabernacle. Seemingly, the most valuable and precious of these metals was gold, second was silver, and most plentiful and least valuable was copper. But each of these three metals were used for completely different purposes in the construction of the Tabernacle.

“Gold… was used… for… the holy work… silver to cast the sockets of the Sanctuary… the copper… the sockets of the courtyard…” (Exodus, 38:24-31)

Gold, silver, and copper all served different purposes in the construction of the Tabernacle. In fact each metal was actually dependent upon the other metals in order for their own purpose to be realized. For example, the gold was used to construct the ark that housed the Torah, but the ark needed to have a courtyard around it in order to protect itself — which needed the silver and copper in order for it to be made.

Each and every one of us, on some level, all want to change the world. But sometimes we feel that compared to others our contributions are not as significant. But the exact opposite is true. This is because for in order for someone else to help, they almost always depend upon other people doing their part. We all must contribute in the way that God enabled and empowered us to do so. If we don’t, it literally prevents others from doing their part.

Sometimes we doubt if we really have what it takes to make a difference, and we further question this if we compare our talent and resources to other people we see making a difference. But this is only half the story.

Every project or cause that was ever completed had many people who made it happen other than those who were “front and center” upon it’s completion. It might be the one’s who envisioned the project, those who labored in it’s every detail, or maybe it was the one who rescued the project after the initial excitement faded. The bottom line is that all of these people are why the project succeeded. But again, they were all individually dependent upon someone else to do their part or there literally would be no place for their contribution.

Think about it. Who could a philanthropist give his or her money to if no one came up with new and exciting ideas?

Don’t make the mistake of thinking that your contribution isn’t going to make a difference. Just like in the days of the tabernacle you have the responsibility to contribute in relation to your ability. Whether God gave you gold, silver, or copper you’re obligated to give what you can. And remember, the one who donates gold can only do so if the one who has copper gives as well. So, no matter what metal you have to give- – whether it’s your money, time, or assistance — take much happiness in knowing that not only are you giving in the exact measure God wants you to but you also lay the foundation for allowing so many others to give as well.

Parsha Summary 

First Aliyah: On the day after Moshe descended from Mount Sinai with the Second Tablets, after successfully securing atonement for the sin of the Golden Calf, he gathered all the Jewish people. The primary purpose of this assembly was to inform the Jews of G‑d’s desire for a Sanctuary to be constructed. He began, however, with a brief reminder regarding the observance of the Shabbat. This was followed by a description of the materials needed to construct the Tabernacle, and a list of the vessels, Tabernacle parts, and priestly garments which were to be produced. The men and women came forward and generously donated all the materials which Moshe enumerated.

Second Aliyah: Moshe announces G‑d’s choice of Bezalel and Oholiav to serve as foremen of the Tabernacle construction project, and he transfers to them all the donated materials. The people, however, continued donating generously, until the craftspeople report to Moshe that they have more than enough materials to complete their task, causing Moshe to issue a proclamation requesting everyone to cease donating materials. The craftspeople began their work. The tapestries which covered the Tabernacle were assembled, and the craftspeople construct the Tabernacle wall panels, their sockets, the curtains which covered the entrance to the sanctuary and which separated the Holy of Holies from the rest of the sanctuary, the Ark, and the Showbread Table.

Third Aliyah: This aliyah describes the construction of the menorah (candelabra) and the Incense Altar. The anointing oil and the incense are also prepared.

Fourth Aliyah: The Tabernacle’s construction is capped off with the construction of the Outer Altar, the copper wash basin, the mesh curtains which surrounded the Tabernacle courtyard and the beams and hooks which anchored them. The Torah then gives an exact accounting of the amounts of gold, silver and copper donated for the construction of the Tabernacle, as well as the vessels and building materials constructed with these supplies.

Fifth Aliyah: The High Priest’s ephod — a reversed apron which covered the back — and its precious-stone-studded shoulder straps were made. The High Priest’s Choshen Mishpat (“Breastplate of Judgment”) was assembled. It contained four rows of precious stones, each row containing three stones. Artisans engraved the names of the Twelve Tribes of Israel upon these twelve stones. The Choshen Misphat was then secured by straps which connected it to the ephod.

Sixth Aliyah: The rest of the priestly garments were completed: The High Priest’s me’il (blue robe adorned with golden bells and cloth “pomegranates”) and tzitz (a golden band worn on the forehead, which was engraved with the words “Holy to G‑d”); and the four garments worn by both the High Priest and the regular priests: tunics, turbans, sashes and pants. With this, the construction of the Tabernacle and all its vessels and accoutrement were finished. The craftspeople brought their finished products to Moshe. Moshe saw that all the work had been done exactly to G‑d’s specifications, and he blessed the workers.

Seventh Aliyah: G‑d instructed Moshe to erect the Tabernacle on the first of Nissan. G‑d also instructed Moshe to place all the Tabernacle’s vessels in their proper places, and to anoint all of the items with the anointing oil, thus sanctifying them. Moshe is also directed to dress Aaron and his sons in the priestly garments, and to anoint them, too. When Moshe finished this task a Cloud of Glory and the Divine Presence filled the Tabernacle. This cloud also served as the Jews’ guide throughout their desert sojourn: when the cloud lifted, the people would travel, following the cloud until it rested, where they would set up camp until the cloud would lift again.