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Home » Vayakhel

Vayakhel: Food for Thought for your Dinner Table

Submitted by on February 24, 2008 – 4:46 amNo Comment | 2,456 views

Sunday: Oral Tradition

Moses gathered the nation and said, These are the things which G-d has commanded . . Shabbat should be a day of rest. . . you shall kindle no fire.” A moment later, Moses said, This is the thing that G-d has commanded,” and proceeded to instruct them on building the tabernacle. Why was the single commandment about Shabbat introduced in the plural,these are the things” and the many commandments about the tabernacle introduced in the singular, this is the thing?”

The specifications for the tabernacle and its attributes are all recorded in the written text of the Torah. By contrast, very few of the Shabbat laws appear in the written Torah; the majority of these laws were preserved in the oral tradition. The Shabbat laws are introduced in the plural because one must consult both the written and the oral Torah to gain fluency in them. The order of the Tabernacle was introduced in the singular because everything they would need to know could be found in one text. Here we find yet another allusion to the oral tradition within the written text. Tiferes Yonason

Monday: A Prince of Clouds

Among the many items contributed to the tabernacle were rare stones and precious gems, donated by the tribal princes. The Hebrew word for princes, nesi’im, can also be written to mean clouds. Indeed, our sages taught that the tribal princes came into possession of the precious stones by way of clouds. The manna, delivered daily by the clouds of glory, came adorned with precious stones; a windfall from which many Jews grew wealthy. The Manna fell every weekday morning and it is not a coincidence that the bulk of the contributions for the tabernacle were delivered to Moses in the morning. Yoma 75b

Tuesday: Bezalel and Ahaliav

Bezalel and Ahaliav, architects appointed to build the tabernacle, were destined to perform this task, as indicated by their names. The Talmud teaches that the cherubs atop the ark arched their wings toward each other to form a shadow under which the divine presence would rest. Indeed, the name Bezalel means in the shadow of G-d. Uri, his father’s name, means Divine light. Hur his grandfather, died defending his faith in G-d. Indeed, Bezalel’s house would be permeated by Divine light and faith.

Ahaliav was also destined to the task. Ahaliav means my father’s tent. His father’s name Achisamach means brothers drawn close together. Indeed, the tabernacle would be a tent where Jews would come together in brotherly love to celebrate their father in heaven. Kli Yakar

Wednesday: Wise Workers

“The wise hearted among the workers built the tabernacle” A careful analysis of the text reveals the extent of the workers’ wisdom. In his instructions, Moses merely summarized the items that G-d wanted built in his sanctuary, but didn’t provide detailed instructions. Yet, the workers built the vessels to the precise specifications outlined in G-d’s commandment to Moses.

Another interesting point: It would have been sufficient for the Torah to mention that Moses relayed his instructions to the builders, who built the tabernacle according to his instructions. Yet the Torah, which is usually economical with its words, goes to great lengths to describe the actual building process. This indicates the high regard in which G-d held the tabernacle. It was like counting diamonds; he cherished every detail and loved every contribution; He never tired of repeating it. Ramban

Thursday: Particular Attention

“And Bezalel made the ark.” The only item particularly attributed to Bezalel is the Ark. Bezalel oversaw the entire project, but delegated the actual building of most items to his skilled team of wise workers. The ark was different; he would not delegate this task; he built it himself. The ark was not complex. It was a simple box and relative to the other vessels, rather easy to build. Bezalel built the ark himself because the ark would house the Shechina, the very presence of the Divine.

We noted earlier (see Tuesday’s entry) that Bezalel’s sacred soul was uniquely suited to form the shadow under which G-d would rest. He could trust the others for their workmanship, but the ark required more than workmanship. It required tender and sacred love, the reverence of inspired fear, the humility of a gentle soul and above all, the guidance of a divine spirit. This task was reserved for Bezalel; he built it lovingly and singlehandedly. Ramban

Friday: The Menorah

The Menorah (candelabra) is a metaphor for Torah because Torah, like the Menorah, is a source of light to the world. The Menorah had a central stem from which six branches extended; three on either side. The Torah is also composed of a central stem and six branches that extend from it. They are the Tanach – the written Torah – and the six orders of Mishnah – the oral tradition – that extend from it. The three golden goblets on each branch represented our three daily prayers. Just as goblets are vessels that contain liquid so are words of prayer vessels that contain blessing. In total there were twenty-two goblets. These represent the twenty-two letters of the Hebrew alphabet from which the sacred words of the Torah and our prayers are composed. Sefat Emet

Shabbat: The Doorway to the Future

“The urn was made from the mirrors of legions that were massed at the entrance to the tent of meeting.” These were brightly polished pieces of copper used by Jewish women in Egypt to entice their husbands to family life. Their husbands were physically exhausted from backbreaking labor and spiritually drained from the inexorable strain. Their wives, who beautified themselves in the reflection of these mirrors, enticed their husbands and thus established the legions of Israel. G-d instructed Moses to construct the urn from these copper pieces to recognize the efforts of these righteous women.

It has been noted that this verse speaks of the urn at the entrance to the tent of meeting though the tent of meeting was not yet erected at the time this verse was stated. Commentators were thus prompted to speculate that the tent referenced here might not be that of the sanctuary. Some suggested that the urn was originally stationed in Moses’ private tent. Others suggest that this verse refers to the tents in Egypt where these copper mirrors were originally used. The mitzvah performed by these righteous women sublimated their homes to the level of the sanctuary. The implications are staggering. Every time we perform a mitzvah our home becomes a sanctuary for G-d. Kli Yakar