Parashiot Vayakhel-Pekudei!

Dear Friends;


I hope that you will enjoy the following Parashiot summaries followed by a Dvar Torah;


” Parashat Vayakhel in a Nutshell “


Moshe advices Benei Israel to keep Shabbat once again, and requests donations for the materials for making the Mishkan–portable Sanctuary for G-d. 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- an apronlike vestment worn just underneath the breastplate.


G-d appoints Bezalel and Oholiav as the master craftsmen. Benei Israel 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 formed the Mishkan’s walls. Bezalel made the Holy Ark from wood covered with gold. On the Ark’s cover were two figures facing each other (Cherubim). The Menorah and the Table 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.


” Parashat Pekudei in a Nutshell “


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 made.


Benei Israel 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 month of 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, Benei Israel would follow it. At night the cloud was replaced by a pillar of fire.


” Dvar Torah “


Last week we read the tragic story of the Golden Calf. Unfortunately, the children of Israel committed a grave sin. They made themselves a molten imagine and began to worship it while Moses was away. When Moses came down the mountain and saw the calf, the Torah says the people were “peruah”, meaning “wild, disorderly, chaotic, unruly, lawless.” Moses “saw that the people were running wild and that Aaron had let them get out of control and so become a laughingstock to their enemies.”


So, what did Moses do when he saw that the people made for themselves a golden calf, run riot and lost its sense of ethical and spiritual direction? How do you restore moral order? How do you bring them back to serve  G-d?!


Well, Rabbi Jonathan Sacks says that the answer lies in the first few words of Parashat Vayakhel. The Parsha starts off by saying “Moses gathered the entire assembly of the children of Israel….” The word “Yayakhel” comes from the word “Kehila”, meaning “community”. When Moses came down the mountain, he didn’t see a community, but just a crowd! So, he decided to gather them together and make them into a community again, because the best way to restore order and bring back the people to serve G-d is by making a “Kehila”! And once he did that, he reminded them about two commandments: Shabbat and building a Mishkan.


But why did Moshe choose these two commandments out of all the other commandments to teach the Benei Yisrael at this time? Well, Rabbi Sacks says it’s because Shabbat and the Mishkan are the two most powerful ways of building a community. The best way of turning a diverse, disconnected group into a team is to get them to build something together. Hence the Mishkan. Building a house for G-d not only brings unity among people, but it also brings people closer to their Creator. And the best way of strengthening the relationship between man and his fellow, is by praying, eating and spending time together —– things that can only be done Shabbat. Shabbat and the mishkan were the two great community-building experiences of the Israelites in the desert.


In Judaism, community is essential to the spiritual life. Our holiest prayers require a minyan. When we celebrate or mourn we do so as a community. Even when we confess on Yom Kippur, we do so together. Rambam says “One who separates himself from the community, even if he does not commit a sin but merely holds himself aloof from the congregation of Israel; he who does not fulfil the commandments together with his people; a person who shows himself indifferent and isolates himself from the rest of the community — such a person has no share in the world to come.”  In Judaism, it is as a community that we come before G-d. “Na-ase Ve Nishma”. For us the key relationship is not “I shall do”, but “We shall do”!!


Yes my friends, the Torah is once again teaching us the importance of the community. To be a Jew, you need to belong to a community! Judaism and individualism are two opposing concepts. G-d wants to see us together when we pray, when we celebrate, when we eat, when we rest and even when we cry. He wants us to help other members of our community and care for each other. He wants us to be united!


B”H, in the Mashadi community, we take this matter very seriously. Community is one of the most important aspects of our lives. We choose where to live, where to work, where to study, who to socialize with and who to marry, all based on the community we belong to. We gladly participate in each other’s happy occasions, but on the other hand, we also share tears in each other’s sorrow. And the two commandments that we take very seriously are, building a Sanctuary for G-d and Shabbat, just like the two commandments that Moshe taught the Benei Yisrael when they needed to be united!

In other cultures and religions, the success of an individual is measured by his or her accomplishments. In Judaism however, the greatness of a person is valued by how much he has done for his community!


Shabbat Shalom & Regards;