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Parashat Vayakhel

Parashat Vayakhel

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Published by: Harav Michael Elkohen on Mar 15, 2012
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  Parashah Insights
 Rabbi Yaakov Hillel 
 Rosh Yeshivat Ahavat Shalom Parashat Vayakhel 
The Sanctity of the Whole
 Parts of a Whole
“Moshe assembled the entire congregation of the children of Israel and said tothem, these are the things which Hashem commanded to do. Six days you shalllabor and the seventh day will be holy for you, Shabbat Shabbaton, a day of rest forHashem” (
35:1-2).“Moshe saw the entire work, and behold, they had done it as Hashem hadcommanded, so they did it. And Moshe blessed them” (39:43).“And it was in the first month of the second year, on the first of the month, thatthe Tabernacle was erected” (40:17).“Moshe could not enter the Tent of Meeting, for the cloud rested upon it, andHashem’s glory filled the Tabernacle” (40:35).The
, and
 Ki Tissa
contain detailed informationconcerning the construction of the Tabernacle (
) in the desert, its utensils,and the priestly garments. Now, in the
, the Torahrepeats the whole listing. The Torah is never repetitious. Why add what would appearto be two entire extra
?This apparent repetition teaches us an important lesson, which we canunderstand by studying a principle in the method of Scriptural interpretation knownas
, or numerical equivalents. Hebrew is unique in that it has no numbers;
the letters also serve as numbers.
, the first letter, is one,
, the second letter, istwo, continuing up to
, ten. Numbers higher than ten are expressed by a
  with an
(twelve), etc. In addition to the meaning of any given word expressed by the characters read as letters, it also has a numerical equivalent(
) composed of the value of its letters in numbers. The meaning of wordsor phrases which have the same numerical equivalent may be connected on aprofound level.In some instances, the tally is off by one. For example, one word may add up toninety-eight, and the other, to ninety-seven. In such a case, the discrepancy isresolved by adding what is called “the
,” counting the word itself as anadditional one.
This practice is surprising. If the figures do not tally, why introduce what seems to be an artificial device, as if to force the calculation to fit? What is the
, and how does it work?In his Kabbalistic work 
 Ma’or VaShemesh
, Rabbi Yehuda Koriat explains the ideabehind adding the
with an interesting analogy. A visitor to ashipyard will see a whole range of objects: planks and beams, rope and fabric, nails,screws, and bolts of all sizes, and much, much more. The shipwrights can identify each isolated item and explain its use in the construction of a ship. However, if the visitor returns after the ship is completed, they will no longer tell him, “Here’s a nailand here’s a plank.” They will tell him, “This is a ship.” No more a pile of assortedmaterials, it is an entirely new entity, composed of all those components. On theirown, each individual component is of limited importance, and cannot be utilized tothe maximum. Only when they are combined in the finished structure are they attheir finest and most useful. It is the completed boat that can sail the high seas – notthe stacks of wood, metal, and cloth.The same is true of a
. Its components, the individual letters, each withits own numerical value, are put together to form a new entity – a complete word.The word itself stands on its own as an additional component. According to thisanalogy, it makes sense to add the
to the calculation of a
, becauseit is an element on its own.The
, and
 Ki Tissa
describe the construction of every individual part of the Tabernacle in detail. Each had its own distinct identity.
 We find an allusion to the practice of counting the
in the
 Bne Yissachar 
commentary onthe verse “Efraim and Menashe, like Reuven and Shimon, they will be [the same] to me” (
48:5). The Hebrew words
 Efraim v’Menashe
have the same numerical equivalent as
, minus one. Even so, the verse says, “they will be [the same] to me,” meaning that they  will be considered equal. By adding the
, an additional one, they become equal.
Put together, they become the Tabernacle, a whole new entity, vastly greater thanthe mere sum of its parts. It was then that the Divine Presence could come to restupon it.
 We find this concept in the Torah’s commandment, “And they will make for Me aSanctuary and I will dwell among them” (
25:8). Every individual contributedsomething of his own to the construction of the Tabernacle and its vessels. The Alshich explains that the Al-mighty specifically wanted every Jew to have a share inthe building of the
“And they will make for Me a Sanctuary” refers to theshare of every Jew in the construction – each one was a partner. In this way, the
became a powerful central point uniting all Jews. The bounty and blessingbestowed by the Divine Presence (
) resting on the Tabernacle couldextend from there to the homes of every individual Jew, so that Hashem would“dwell among them” (
Torat Moshe
30:13).The presence of the
intensifies in keeping with the number of Jewspresent, as we learn from our Sages’ discussion of the laws of 
. When three ormore adult males have eaten together, they recite the Grace after Meals as a group,adding the preliminary words “Let us bless.” Ten or more say, “Let us bless our G-d.” A hundred or more who have eaten together say, “Let us bless Hashem our G-d.” A thousand or more say, “Let us bless Hashem our G-d, the G-d of Israel.” Tenthousand or more say, “Let us bless Hashem our G-d, the G-d of Israel, the G-d of Hosts, Who dwells upon the Cherubim, for the food we have eaten” (
7:3).The principle is clear. The importance of a greater number of Jews who unite torecite the Grace after Meals is evident in the corresponding changes made in the
. The Divine Presence rests to a greater degree on a proportionately largergroup. The verse “He will be a King in Yeshurun when the heads of the nationsgather, the Tribes of Israel united” (
33:5) alludes to this idea. The presenceof the Tribes of Israel and their leaders, large numbers of Jews, increases andintensifies the presence of the
resting on the assembly.Even though “the whole earth is full of His glory (
6:3), and there is noplace that is void of His Presence (
Tikune Zohar 
Tikun Ayin
, p. 122b),
the Al-mighty is nonetheless “
 E-l mistater 
,” literally “the G-d Who conceals Himself.” He only reveals Himself in keeping with the circumstances of the time and the place; themore worthy the setting, the greater the revelation of His Presence. This is why ourSages teach that “the Divine Presence dwells among ten” (
39a). Thenumber ten is symbolic of perfection and completion, making it worthy of the

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