Parashat Vayakhel & Pikudei: Exodus; Chapter 35 Verse 1 – Chapter 40 Verse 38

03/05/2018 12:02:14 PM


Parashat Vayakhel & Pikudei: Exodus; Chapter 35 Verse 1 – Chapter 40 Verse 38

General Overview: This week we read final two Torah portions of the book of Exodus, Vayakhel and Pekudei. Although we normally read only one Parasha per week, during a non-leap year there are some weeks we do read two portions since we don’t add an extra month of Adar. Moshe gathers the Jews and relays to them all the details regarding the construction of the Mishkan (Tabernacle), its vessels, and the priestly garments. The actual construction and assembly is also described. This portion repeats many of the details described in the portions of Terumah and Tetzaveh, wherein G‑d instructed Moshe regarding the assembly of all these objects. The Mishkan is erected, and G‑d's presence dwells therein.

1st Section: The Parasha begins with the commandment of Shabbat and the penalty for its transgression. Note that Verse 35:5 is a classic proof of the Oral Law. Those who deny the Oral Law must explain the literal translation of this verse to prohibit having any burning flame on Shabbat. This would forbid the use of lights, heat, and even Shabbat candles! It is the Oral Law which teaches us that the G-d’s prohibition was directed at lighting a fire, not having a fire. Moshe asked the Jewish people to donate the time, talents, and materials for the construction of the Mishkan (Tabernacle). The Jewish people responded with much enthusiasm.

2nd Section: Talents and materials were donated, and Betzallel and Aholiav were appointed as chief architects and artists. The response to Moshe’s appeal was so great that Moshe had to command the people to stop their donations! (see, miracles do happen!) The outer coverings of the Mishkan and the inner tapestries are detailed. The beams of the Mishkan, the Aron Hakodesh (Ark), and the Shulchan (Table) are described.

3rd & 4th Sections: The Menorah and the inner Golden Altar are described. The outer ramped Altar, the Washstand, and the Mishkan’s surrounding enclosure are detailed. Parashat Pekudei begins with an accounting of the materials used in the construction of the Mishkan. (Gold = 4,386.5 lb./ Silver = 15,088.75 lb./ Copper = 10,620 lb.).

5th & 6th Sections: The Kohen Gadol’s breastplate and vest are described. The remaining garments of the Kohen Gadol and the other Kohanim are detailed, and Moshe inspects the completed Mishkan. Moshe certifies that the entire project followed the exact details of Hashem’s instructions. Moshe blesses the volunteers.

7th Section: On the 1st day of Nissan, 2449, the Mishkan was assembled. After every vessel was properly in place, the presence of Hashem, the Shechina, descended in a cloud and filled the Mishkan.

Special Maftir: In preparation for the upcoming festival of Passover, when every Jew had to be in a state of ritual purity, the weekly Parshah is supplemented with an additional portion called Parashat Parah (Numbers; Chapter 19 Verses 1-22).

Maftir Summary: Parashat Parah relates the laws of the Red Heifer with which a person contaminated by contact with a dead body was purified. In the time of the Temple, everyone would need to purify themselves before coming to the Temple to bring sacrifices, especially before Passover, when everyone was obligated to bring the pascal offering and eat it by the Seder night.

Haftara: Special Haftara for Shabbat Parah (Ezekiel; Chapter 36 Verses 16-36).

Haftara Summary: The Prophet Yechezkel reveals that G-d will ensure that the Jewish people attain spiritual heights which would correlate with the holiness of the land of Israel. Yechezkel compared The Jewish people to the “impurity of a menstruating woman”, and thus G-d longs for the time when he can be reunited with ‘His wife’ i.e. the Jewish people (Rashi). Yechezkel related that G-d cast His wrath against the Jewish people for their sins and expelled them from the land of Israel, which caused a desecration of G-d’s name. Thus, although the Jewish people did not merit to be redeemed, G-d “pitied His name” and brought the Jewish people back to the land of Israel, cleansed them from their sins, and imbued them with “a new heart and spirit” and a “heart of flesh” to accept G-d (Rashi). The Ramban in Deuteronomy (30:6) deduces from here that there will be no Evil Inclination (Yetzer Hara) in the Messianic era. G-d would provide for the Jewish people’s needs while they will display remorse for their past sins and G-d will further His relationship with them. The Haftara ends off with G-d promising to repopulate the Land of Israel extensively.

Thu, June 21 2018 8 Tammuz 5778