This year’s Parshiyot Vayakhel/Pekudei vort is being sponsored by Steven and Debra Glanz and family of Ramat Beit Shemesh dedicated to their children for Hotslocha this year in all of their endeavors. To the Glanz family, many thanks for your sponsorship and for your continued kindnesses.
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Our doubleheader Parshat Vayakhel-Pekudei opens upon Moshe’s descent from Har Sinai with the Second Tablets (Luchos).
The opening posuk of our doubleheader Parshat Vayakhel-Pekudei reads:
“And Moshe assembled the entire congregation of B’nei Yisrael and said to them: ‘These are the things that Hashem commanded, to do them:’” (Sefer Shemos, Perek 35, Posuk 1 As rendered to English in “The Sapirstein Edition, The Torah with Rashi Commentary)
“And Moshe assembled.” On the day after Yom Kippur, when he descended from the mountain, the word Vayakhel is in the causative: hifil, because he does not gather the people by hand, but rather, they are gathered by his speaking to them. And it is rendered by Targum Okelos: V’Ahchneish — “And he caused to gather.” (Ibid, page 488, as rendered to English)
Note #2 beneath the Rashi states:
….A person does not gather the people directly, rather he causes them to gather themselves. Therefore, the root: kehal only appears in the causative [word] hifil (“he caused them to gather”) or the passive nifal (“they were gathered”) (Ibid, page 488, as rendered to English)
The Artscroll Stone Chumash notes on “Moshe assembled” (pages 516-517) :
A day earlier, on Yom Kippur, Moshe had come down from the mountain with the Second Luchos, signifying Hashem’s forgiveness and renewed love for the people. Now they were worthy of carrying out Hashem’s command to build the Mishkan [Tabernacle, Tent of Meeting]. (Artscroll Stone Chumash citing Rashi, Ramban) Moshe conveyed this command to the assemblage of the entire nation — men, women and children — because everyone would have a share in the construction. (Artscroll Stone Chumash citing Ramban; Or HaChaim)
A number of years ago, Rav Arye Gordon, z”l spoke on our Parsha;
Vayakhel, when used for Tov, is to actualize immense power and potential which is capable of being used for the most lofty, noble goals — building, growing and developing love for our fellow Jews, Kavod shel Shemayim V’Torah (man’s recognition of Hashem’s control of the world and Torah as Hashem’s blueprint for man’s service).
Vayakhel, when used for rah, is capable of being used, Heaven forbid, to undermine and destroy. Or if the vehicle, Vayakhel is not used at all, the reticence and inability of Am Yisrael to come together and even talk about unity is something for which we all would be held accountable.
Mida keneged Mida, Vayakhel of our Parsha, by Moshe Rabbeinu’s emphasis on the holiness of Shabbat and his appeal for funds and donations toward the building of the Mishkan, he serves to bring about rectification of the previous misuse both of gathering together and of the donations of gold which went into the making of the avodah zora. The message of Parsha Vayakhel seems meant to atone for the Chait HaEigel.
Much later on, as the B’nei Yisrael is finally about to enter the Land of Israel after their 40 years in Bamidbar, Moshe calls together the Kahal in parsha Vayeilich to give over his final discourse on Torah and Halacha before his passing.
Ultimately, we learn that on Chol HaMoed Succot in the year following the Shmittah year, Klal Yisrael, men, women and children gathered to hear the Melech’s [king’s] Torah. Chabad Rabbi Yosef Karasik discusses what is special about Hakhel:
Once in seven years, after the shemitta year, on the first day of Chol HaMoed Sukkos, all the Jewish people gathered – men, women, and children – in the courtyard of the Beis HaMikdash, in the Ezras Nashim. A special wooden platform was built, upon which the king sat and read sections from the book of Devarim which urged the nation to observe the mitzvos.
After reading from the Torah, the king prayed to Hashem on behalf of the nation, that they be blessed with success in all matters, both material and spiritual. He concluded with seven blessings for the nation, the malchus, the Kohanim and the Beis HaMikdash.
The Torah reading was from a Torah that was used only once in seven years, and from several sources it sounds like it was the Torah that Moshe wrote himself, on his final day.
The Hakhel gathering was preceded by the blowing of trumpets. On the morning of that day, Kohanim scattered throughout Yerushalayim and blew golden trumpets, in order to remind the people that the special day had arrived and they had to go to the Temple Mount.
There were no speeches by distinguished rabbis, not even by the High Priest. It was only the king who read most of Devarim from the Torah scroll. We can assume that it took at least an hour or more.
The main topics the king read about were: the mitzva of belief in G-d, accepting the yoke of Heaven and the yoke of mitzvos, about the mitzvos dependent on the Land – the section about trumah and ma’aser for the priests and levites, the mitzva of gifts to the poor, and the curses and blessings.
Why was this gathering regarded with such importance when there was nothing new in what the king read?
Indeed, the king did not impart anything new. He read verses that everybody knew. Yet everybody was commanded to come and stand silently and reverently, with “great kavana,” because the goal was not to acquire new information. The goal was to strengthen the nation’s belief in Hashem, and urge them to go in the ways of the Torah.
By the king reading those passages, he implanted a dveikus (cleaving) to the path of uprightness and truth. There is an expression in one of the Rishonim (the Chinuch, mitzva #612) which says, “This mitzva is a strong pillar and great glory in our religion.”
Torah informs us in our Parshat Pekudei how Moshe brought Am Yisrael together, along with the donations of funds and material — gold, etc. which were then fashioned into the utensils of the Mishkan. Our Parshat Pekudei teaches about the performance of constructing the Mishkan as a paradigm for meticulously adhering to Hashem’s Commands. In addition, “The Midrash Says,” Sefer Shemos (page 357) informs us that not only did Moshe account for all donations, but that he “… gave his calculations to a second person, Ithamar Ben Aaron, for verification” lest there be any suspicion of any misappropriation or wrong-doing on Moshe’s part. Perhaps this was the first real paradigm of oversight: a Delloite-Touche CPA-like audit.
Our Parsha Pekudei begins;
“These are the accountings of the Mishkan (the Sanctuary), the Mishkan of Testimony, which were counted at the word of Moshe …” (Sefer Shemos, Perek 38, posuk 21, as rendered to English in The Sapirstein Edition, The Torah with Rashi’s Commentary)
The Artscroll Stone Chumash notes a Rashi on “the Mishkan, the Mishkan…”:
Midrashically, the two words allude to the two Temples [Batei Mikdashim] which were taken from us. In a play on words, Mishkan is pronounced as if it were vowelized Mashkon, a pledge or collateral, and intimates that the two Batei Mikdashim are collateral for the sins of Israel, and were taken from us until the nation repents and is restored to its former position. (The Artscroll Stone Chumash, Sefer Shemos, page 531)
Rashi’s Midrashic intimation, or allusion of the Batei Mikdashim as collateral taken from us over what would be our future sins, seems to this author to relate with points which Rabbi Goldin makes in his sefer “Unlocking the Torah Text,” Sefer Shemos (pages 314-315):
A profound symbolic lesson potentially emerges [from the building of the Mishkan and the equally important elements of the sequence]…
Let us assume that the Mishkan represents the overall structure of Judaism’s observance while the various utensils represent the details of that observance. …Both the general structure and the details of the practice of Judaism are equally important.
To live as Jews, on the one hand, we must be consistently aware of our tradition’s overall goals. We cannot allow ourselves to be blinded by the intricacies of observance to the extent that our vision of the people that Hashem wants us to be is lost. At all times, we must remember that our task on this earth is to sanctify Hashem’s name through our actions. How we observe the Mitzvot — and how that observance affects those around us — is, therefore, often as important as the Mitzvot themselves.
At the same time, however, the details of Judaism’s practice are absolutely essential. Attention to detail demonstrates a conscious, concrete commitment to Hashem; infuses every aspect of our lives with connection to the Divine; and creates a practical system of ritual that has maintained our identity as a people throughout our turbulent history.
The Mishkan would have been empty without its components, while the utensils would have been meaningless without the Mishkan. So, too, only by maintaining both detail and overall structure in our personal and communal lives will we succeed in fulfilling Hashem’s will.
The lesson of Rabbi Goldin’s message is meant for all of us — the people, as well as the politicians and the governance of Israel. When we observe and perform the Mitzvot with our hearts and minds focused; when we act in ways to fulfill the will of Hashem; when our governmental leaders act unequivocably, and united in fulfillment of Hashem’s will — Our Divine Legacy to Eretz Yisrael, we will glorify Hashem’s Name and, thus, earn back the collateral twice taken from us — in the form of Moshiach and the Third Beit HaMikdash, please speedily in our times.
May we, the B’nei Yisrael be zocha that our brethren — the refugee families from Gush Katif be permanently settled and be made totally whole — be totally restituted for all that was stolen from them, that the thrice expelled families of Amona be restored to their rebuilt homes and the oft-destroyed Yeshiva buildings in Homesh be rebuilt, all at total government expense; due to alt-leftist-agendized, supreme court legalized Yassamnik gunpoint. Baruch Hashem that our dear brother Jonathan Pollard is now in his third year at home in Eretz Yisrael and has embarked on a new chapter in his life. May Esther Yocheved bat Yechiel Avraham have an aliyah in Shemayim and may her spirit and memory continue to lift Jonathan to at least 120 years. May the MIAs be liberated alive and returned to us in ways befitting Al Kiddush Hashem — as with the return in April, 2019, via Russia, of the remains of Zachariah Baumel, as should the remains of the two chayalim from the Gaza War of eight years ago. May we have the courage and strength to stand up and physically prevent the possibility of Chas V’Challila any future eviction of Jews from their homes and prevent Chas V’Challila the handing of Jewish land over to anyone, let alone to enemies sworn to Israel’s and Judaism’s destruction and eradication. And may we soon and finally see the total end to the Communist Chinese corona virus pandemic and all like viruses. May we fulfill Hashem’s blueprint of B’nei Yisrael as a Unique people — an Am Segula, not to be reckoned with as with “the nations” and may we be zocha to see the Moshiach, the Ge’ula Shlaima, as Dov Shurin sings; “Ki Karov Yom Hashem Al’Kol HaGoyim”, the Ultimate Redemption, bimhayrah b’yamainu — speedily, in our time”, — Achshav, Chik Chuk, Miyad, Etmol!!!
Moshe Burt, an Oleh, is a commentator on news and events in Israel and Founder and Director of The Sefer Torah Recycling Network. He lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh.