Vayak’hel (He assembled)


In this portion, Moses addresses the entire nation and charges them with the privilege of building the Tabernacle. Much of the text is a repetition of the directions given in the previous chapters. Israel’s ability to create a setting for YHUH’s Presence is a measure of its greatness and, indeed, a primary reason for its very existence. Its future history would revolve around its worthiness to have the Temple in its midst. When Israel was unfaithful to its trust, YHUH’s Presence would depart from the Temple, leaving it an empty shell, devoid of its inner sacredness. Once that happened, destruction and national exile came quickly.

Exodus 35:1 And gathered together Moses את־ all the congregation of the Children of Israel and said to them, These are the words which יהוה has commanded that you should do אתם them. 2 Six days will work be done, but the seventh day will be a sacred day, a Sabbath of rest to ליהוה: whoever does work on it will be put to death. 3 You will kindle no fire throughout your dwellings upon the Sabbath day.

Question: Why does the Torah place the commandment to cease work on Shabbat next to the work of the Tabernacle? To teach the Israelites that nothing is more important than keeping Sabbath, even completing the Tabernacle. Thus the Tabernacle not only defines the type of work forbidden on Shabbat, but also the type of work the Israelite is engaged in on the other six days of the week: the work of building a home for YHUH out of the materials of our own physical life. (Chumash)

Question: Are you in need of a Sabbath rest? We rarely turn off our electronically/digitally charged lives causing us “techno-stress”. Even though technology enables us to do many things at the same time, our brains become overloaded. We call this ‘Multitasking Madness’ and we are seeing more and more of it every day. We have fallen into the trap of, ‘Because we can, we do.’ We find ourselves unable to think clearly and we become forgetful and incapable of having a restful sleep as the stimulation from the overload keeps our brain working overtime.

Spiritual Exercise: Have a real Sabbath rest…cut off the phone, computer, music, connection with the world, and rest your mind and body. Find refreshment in YHUH and reenergize. The remainder of the week will be much better.

Question: What does it mean that you are not to kindle a fire? This verse comes right after the law to not work on Sabbath. The word “kindle” means to start a fire by lighting wood or paper. Only collecting and gathering wood for a fire is considered work. Cooking would be forbidden, if you must work by collecting wood to start a fire. There is no prohibition against enjoying the light and heat of a candle or other source of light where work is not involved.

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#22 Vayak’hel