Va-Yakhel

Torah: Ex 35:1-38:20; Ex 30:11-16
Haftorah: II Kings 12:1-17; I Sam 20:18 & 42


Va-Yakhel, "and he gathered". Moses gathered the children of Israel together to deliver the words of the L-rd to them. This time there is a little more detail on how to keep the Sabbath. Exodus 35:3 "You shall kindle no fire throughout your habitations upon the Sabbath day." The intention here is to stop work that is normally done during the week. For women, food was traditionally their labor. The command not to light a fire on the Sabbath meant no roasting or baking was to be done. Some have asked, "Then how did they eat on the Sabbath?"

The meal on Erev Shabbat (Friday evening), the biggest and fanciest meal of the week is eaten hot and enjoyed by all. Even the bread is special. Challah, made by braiding the dough, is baked every Friday. This gives a more pleasant appearance and even glistens in the light of the Sabbath candles. The best dishes are used and meat is traditionally served with wine and the best delicacies. The other Sabbath meals are eaten cold or warmed over (Historically, by the remaining embers left over from the previous day). Sandwiches, salads etc. are eaten. Fresh fruit, raw vegetables and nuts are also very popular Sabbath foods. We make the coming of the Sabbath a special event. We wear nice clothing and eat well on the Sabbath. This gives special place to the Sabbath and honors the Creator of the universe. It also gives us a glimpse of ha-olam (the age to come), which is the purpose of the Sabbath.

In chapters 35 and 36 something wonderful took place. An offering was received to provide for the construction of hamishkan, the tabernacle. (Exodus 35:5) "Take from among you an offering unto the LORD: whosoever is of a willing heart, let him bring it, an offering of the LORD; . . ." (36:5) "And they spake unto Moses, saying, The people bring much more than enough for the service of the work, which the LORD commanded to make." (6) "And Moses gave commandment, and they caused it to be proclaimed throughout the camp, saying, Let neither man nor woman make any more work for the offering of the sanctuary. So the people were restrained from bringing." The remainder of the Torah portion deals with the construction of the furniture and fixtures of the tabernacle. Great expense and much workmanship went into the building of this house for G-d.

In Chapter 38:24 twenty nine talents of gold were used in the tabernacle. A talent is approximately ninety-eight pounds. There were 2,842 pounds of gold in the tabernacle. This means that, of the six hundred thousand adult males, each contributed about four and two thirds pounds to the making of the temple. This does not include silver, precious stones and other materials used in the temple. Figuring the price of gold at four hundred fifty dollars per ounce, the total value of the gold used would be about twenty million dollars. There is no way to calculate the value of the precious stones and other material used but I would guess that there was another fifteen or twenty million in materials used in constructing the tabernacle. In today's market, one would have to add the cost of labor. How could we guess the number of man hours spent in making the tabernacle?

Exodus 40:16 Thus did Moses: ... that the LORD commanded him, ... 17) ... in the first month in the second year, on the first day of the month, that the tabernacle was reared up.... 20) And he put the testimony into the ark, ... 23) ... the bread in order upon the table before the LORD; ... 24) ... the candlestick in the tent of the congregation, ... 25) And he lighted the lamps before the LORD; ... 26) And he put the golden altar in the tent of the congregation before the veil: 27) And he burnt sweet incense thereon; ... 28) ... set up the hanging 29) ... the altar of burnt offering ... and offered upon it the burnt offering and the meat offering; 30) And he set the laver ... and put water there, to wash ... 32) When they went into the tent ... and when they came near unto the altar, they washed; ... 35) And Moses was not able to enter into the tent of the congregation, because the cloud abode thereon, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. How much effort do we go through before entering the Holy place with G-d? If we want the glory of G-d to fill our tabernacles, we should take pains to complete spiritually what Moshe did physically. Cleanse, anoint, and prepare the sanctuary. Hang the curtains according to the L-rd's instruction. Offer sacrifices and sweet smelling incense (prayers) unto the L-rd and then he will come into our temple with glory and with power. Baruch haShem!

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