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Parsha Perspectives ‫ותכל כל עבדת משכן אהל מועד‬


Apparently, while he was dozing in the

cubicle, his yarmulke had fallen off his
‫ויעשו בני ישראל ככל אשר צוה ה' את משה כן עשו‬ head. “Oh no!” he thought to himself.
“All the work of the Tabernacle, the Tent of Meeting, was completed, and the Children of “What did I do? I made a blessing and
Israel had done everything that G-d commanded Moses , so did they do.” (Exodus 39:32) slaughtered without a yarmulke, and I didn’t
even know it.”

I n this week’s parshas, Vayakhel and Pekudei, the Torah repeats the entire process
mentioned earlier in Parashas Terumah and Tetzaveh, detailing the construction of
the Mishkan, the Tabernacle, and the fashioning of the vestments of the Kohen
Gadol, the High Priest. Surprisingly enough, the Midrash and the commentators do not
address why it was necessary for the Torah to expend numerous verses in what appears at
The hallmark of a professional slaughterer is
that he has the requisite sensitivity and
focus that allow him to detect even the
slightest jerk in the chicken’s neck during
the slaughtering process. One who does
not wear a yarmulke while slaughtering has
first glance to be unnecessary repetition. What could be the reason for this redundancy? not invalidated the act of slaughtering.
Nonetheless, the lack of proper sensitivity
In his introduction to the Book of Exodus, as the slaughterhouse where he worked could render the chicken not kosher.
Nachmanides explains that prior to the was open and unheated. However, the Reb Mendel said to himself, “If I couldn’t
construction of the Tabernacle, there was a slaughterhouse had a small cubicle where feel whether or not I was wearing a
void among the Jewish people. G-d’s Divine one or two people could sit and warm yarmulke, how could I tell if I had
presence, which existed to such a high themselves by a small stove. The slaughtered the chickens properly?”
degree during the time of the Patriarchs, slaughterers would go out to work, but they
was no longer present. A primary goal of would hurry back as soon as they could to A lesser man may have hesitated, but Reb
building the Tabernacle, he explains, was to avoid frostbite. Mendel was a chassid through and through.
restore this lofty level that had existed He walked straight back to the cubicle, laid
during the time of the Patriarchs. The One cold winter evening, while he was down his knife, and told his startled boss
Patriarchs, through selfless devotion to G-d waiting in the cubicle for the truck to come that he was resigning from his position.
and uncompromising beliefs, merited to in, Reb Mendel dozed off. When it finally When his boss questioned him regarding
having the Divine Presence resting on their arrived, the air was filled with the wake-up his plan for earning a livelihood, Reb
tents. The Torah therefore repeats many of call for the slaughterer. Reb Mendel jumped Mendel responded that he would find a
the details of the Tabernacle’s construction up and ran to his place. The boss and six or different way to earn a living. Reb Mendel
to reinforce the idea that the Tabernacle seven workers were already there and ultimately found a job which paid him
was meant to be exact to the last detail – ready to start. handsomely.
that there’s no such thing as, “it’s just a
detail.” Reb Mendel quickly recited the blessing and The construction of the Tabernacle was a
began to slaughter the chickens, one... two... microcosm for the life of a devout Jew.
Rabbi Yitzchok Levi Horowitz (otherwise three. He then checked his knife to make Uncompromising attention to the little
known as the The Bostoner Rebbe), of sure that it was still perfectly sharp and free details is what sets the standard for true
blessed memory, recalled an incident with from nicks. As he was getting ready for the devotion and is what allows the Divine
Reb Mendel, a chassid from Jerusalem, next batch of chickens, he happened to run Presence to rest on our homes.
who came to America and worked as a his hand across his head and was stunned
ritual slaughterer in New York. His job was to discover that he was not wearing a Rabbi Adler can be reached at:
particularly hard during the freezing winters, yarmulke!

Come. The holiday of Rosh Chodesh was


definitive form. – Midrash Rabbah

“And the entire congregation of Israel went out from granted to them as a holiday which they
R’ Meir Shapiro zt”l was wont to remark in
before Moses. And every man whose heart uplifted him would celebrate even more so than men, a
came, and all whose generous spirit impelled him to regard to this Midrash that it is amazing to
practice that continues in modern times as
donate, brought their donations for the work on the comprehend how human beings act under
Tabernacle… And they came, the men together with the different situations. When creating the
women, all who were generous of heart brought Golden Calf, the people donated immense
bracelets, nose rings, finger rings, and buckles…” 2. SCOFFERS AND MOCKERS amounts of gold and received only a
“He made the Menorah out of pure gold, by hammering
35:20-22 miniature calf in return. Yet, no one thought
its form out (of a solid piece of gold), its base, its shaft,
its cups, its knobs, and its flowers were of it.” 37:17 to demand an accounting of how the funds
And the entire congregation of Israel went
out – What is the point of telling us that they were used. Yet when it came to building a
Menorah out of pure gold – Generally, when holy sanctuary, where numerous rich and
went out from before him if we already knew
describing how they fulfilled their instructions, impressive objects were fashioned,
that they were gathered before to hear him
the Torah uses identical terms to describe the everything had to be accounted for and
implore them to donate? How else would they
instructions and their fulfillment. The only only a heavenly voice could silence the
donate if they didn’t go out from before him?
exception is in the discrepancy between the rumor mongers among them. Such is
Moses feared that the people who had been
instructions of the Menorah’s construction human nature that when money is donated
overworked and underpaid slaves up to this
(“And you shall make a golden Menorah”) for a holy cause, every penny had better be
point were unused to giving, and he therefore
and their fulfillment (“the Menorah”). What accounted for, yet when spent on frivolous
gathered them together en masse in the hopes
does the deviation intend to teach us? The law causes, huge sums can be frittered away
that peer pressure would inspire them to give
is that the Menorah need not be made of gold, without thought given to the bottom line.
generously. The verse tells us however that the
as it may also be made of other metals too.
people did not need that added pressure.
Calling it a “golden Menorah” initially limited
Instead, they disbanded and each man Rabbi Meisels can be reached at:
this dispensation only for future generations.
brought his own donation without seeking
The Menorah of the Tabernacle, however, had
honor from others who would not be aware of
to be made of gold. Therefore, in one place it
his generosity. – Sifsei Kohen
speaks of it as the “golden Menorah,” whereas
And the entire congregation of Israel went in the other it only refers to it as “the
out – This indicates that they didn’t just Menorah.” – Ohr HaChaim This page is dedicated to and written for the
donate, but they did so enthusiastically and 6,500 Partners in Torah mentors. We welcome
with great haste. – Rabbeinu Bachya 3. STONED TO LIFE you to join their ranks by calling 800-STUDY-4-2.
“The amount of gold donated as a wave offering was 29 Please send your comments, questions, and
The men together with the women – This talents and 730 shekels…The silver census money
term implies that the women were first to collected from the community came out to 100 talents suggestions to
donate and the men followed their lead. This is and 1775 shekels…The 100 talents were used to cast
particularly noteworthy because during the sin the bases for the sanctuary and the cloth partition…The
Contact Info for Partners in
of the Golden Calf, the same items were 1775 shekels were used for the hooks, caps and inlaid Torah Mentor Advisors*:
requested for use in creating it, and in that hoops for the pillars were made..” 38:24-28 Rabbi Elazar Meisels
instance, the women refused to donate or 732-917-6370
partake in its construction in any manner. One The 1775 shekels – Why does it refer to these
shekels in the definitive form? When Moses (Sunday & Tuesday 8:00—11:00 pm, and
reason was because women are generally Thursday 10:00am—12:00 noon)
loathe to part with their jewelry, but their was giving an accounting for the gold donated
by the community, he found himself unable to
actions when it came to constructing a
Tabernacle lay that claim to rest, since in that recall how the 1,775 shekels had been used.
Rabbi Pinchos Jung
instance, they were the first to do so. – This caused him great anguish, as he feared
845-425-6533 (leave message)
Rabbeinu Bachya that the people would grow suspicious of his
handling of the communal funds. A heavenly
Rabbeinu Bachya adds that the women *Kindly reserve use of our advisors
voice then emerged and declared, “The 1775
were highly praised for their righteousness for mentor contact
shekels were used for the hooks, caps and
in both situations and were richly rewarded inlaid hoops for the pillars were made etc.”
both in this world and in the World to This is the reason it is spoken of in the

Pinchas, understood that the power of

Dear Rabbi Meisels,
speech was too valuable to fritter away on
Forgive me for asking a question that doesn’t pertain to the current Torah portion, but mere conversation. Rather, their every word
I’m troubled by something in the story of Joseph. After he was reunited with his father, it was measured, and other than conversation
seems like the two never discussed what transpired between him and his brothers. Why which was absolutely essential, they spoke
didn’t Jacob ask Joseph about this, or did he ask and not receive a response? BTW, I look only for the purpose of increasing their
forward to this column every week. Thank you for this great service! knowledge of Torah. Anything else was
deemed frivolous and useless. They
Ilya understood that it is the power of speech
that differentiates a man from all other living
creatures, and that proper use of this power
Dear Ilya, without being told by a messenger? Did he is what elevates man above all. While they
not spend time with him as one would without question appreciated man’s
Your question is one that has bothered me freedom of speech, they had an even
expect of a son who knew that his father
in the past as well, and I’ll share with you greater appreciation for his freedom to
would soon pass on? After all, Joseph was
what I have discovered in my research on remain silent.
in the perfect position to do so, given his
the subject. exalted position. What could have
Other than to satisfy his curiosity, for Jacob
One approach taken by some of the prevented him from being there around the
to inquire about what happened would
commentators [Chizkuni, Daas Zekeinim, clock toward the end of his father’s life? His
have served no useful purpose, and it
48:1] is that Joseph understood that this absence points to the fact that Joseph
therefore never occurred to him to ask. His
was a question that Jacob was likely to have feared his father’s wrath toward his brothers
mastery over his mouth was to such an
raised when they would have had a few and therefore abstained from visiting unless
extent that he refused to use the most
moments together in private. Therefore, absolutely necessary and then, only in the
precious gift granted to mankind - the
although Joseph had a burning desire to presence of others. Therefore, the verse
power to formulate and articulate thoughts,
spend private time with his beloved father explicitly mentions that he took his two sons
the crowning glory of mankind – simply to
after so many years of separation, he along with him.
satisfy his curiosity. Exercising one’s rights is
refrained from doing so lest he be forced to not just a wise legal policy, but sometimes it
This approach reflects unbelievably well on
share the truth and provoke Jacob’s wrath is the hallmark of a great person as well.
the exalted character of Joseph, who not
against his brothers. Throughout the last
only had no need to seek vengeance
seventeen years of Jacob’s life, Joseph Wishing you all the best,
against his brothers, but also sacrificed
never allowed himself to be secluded with Rabbi Elazar Meisels
rather mightily to protect them against his
his father as a result. Such was his love and
father’s wrath. We would all do well to Rabbi Meisels can be reached at:
concern for his brothers that he abstained
emulate his approach in our own lives.
from his own needs so as not to cause
them harm, although he would have been There is however another approach to this
completely justified had he chosen to do question, which in my opinion is even more LOOK WHO MADE PARTNER…
so. penetrating and thought-provoking.
Support for this explanation can be derived The famed Rabbi Pinchas of Koretz zt”l in
from the fact that the Torah tells us that his seminal work Imrei Pinchas, cites Rabbi LLOYD B ASKIN -- ROSEMONT, PA
toward the end of Jacob’s life, he Chaim Krasiner zt”l, who explains that it was SOFIA MENAHEM -- C LEARWATER, FL
summoned Joseph to his bedside and Jacob, not Joseph, who avoided all mention ELLIOT SHELBY -- BROOKLYN, NY
instructed him to bury him in Canaan. of the subject. Moreover, he explains, JESSE B ECKOW -- THORNHILL, ON
Following that, the verse writes, “And it was Jacob’s reason for doing so was not SHULY GROSSMAN -- LAKEWOOD, NJ
after these things that someone said to because he was afraid to hear the answer, LAUREN POSNER -- JERUSALEM, ISRAEL
Joseph, ‘Behold, your father is ill, so he took but because he was simply not given to
his two sons, Menashe and Ephraim, with indulging his curiosity and valued his words
him.’” How could it be that Joseph would too much to engage in thoughtless Making Partner has never been this easy!
not have known that his father was ill conversation. The Patriarchs, explains Rabbi
TABLE TALK Parsha At-A-Glance
Moses assembled the entire nation to reiterate Isamar, a son of Aaron the Kohen, oversaw the
Vayakhel, this week’s first Torah portion, essentially reviews the sanctity of Shabbat. He announced that Levites’ work on the Mishkan (Tabernacle). The
many of the instructions noted in the three previous Torah those whose hearts felt motivated could parsha then gives an accounting of the
portions regarding the construction of the Tabernacle, a
contribute materials (gold, silver, copper, wools quantities of the materials – gold, silver, and
tangible place for G-d’s Divine Presence. Earlier on (Chapter
26), we read that individual contributions were requested
in red, purple and blue, linen, goats’ hair, wood, copper – donated by the Jewish people for the
towards the construction of the Tabernacle and for its various oil, spices, and precious stones) to the building construction of the Mishkan. The parts of the
components. In contrast to the mandatory half-shekel of the Mishkan (Tabernacle). He invited them structure, the utensils, and the clothing of the
contribution (Chapter 30:13-15), whose amount was fixed to involve themselves in the actual construction kohanim are listed. After each description, the
and whose funds were used for communal offerings, the as well. Torah states that the item was made according
donation of materials requested for the Tabernacle were not
to the command of G-d to Moses. After the
fixed. Moses simply specified the materials that were The people immediately approached with the
work of the Mishkan was completed, the
needed, and the people gave, each according to the necessary materials. The women (who had
generosity of his own heart. In this week’s Torah portion, we Jewish people consulted Moses, who inspected
refused to bring gold for the golden calf) now
read (36:2-7): and verified that everything was indeed made
came forward to donate their jewelry and their
according to G-d’s command. Moses blessed
All the wise people … performing the sacred work came… weaving skills. The parsha singles out the
from the work they were doing, and said to Moses as
leaders, who gave precious stones for the
follows, “The people are bringing more than enough for the
ephod and the choshen mishpat (the G-d told Moses that the dedication of the
labor of the work that G-d has commanded to perform.”
Moses commanded… “Man and woman shall not do more
breastplate of judgment) worn by the Kohen Mishkan would take place on the first of the
work for the sacred contribution!” And the people were Gadol (High Priest). The Torah details the month of Nissan, in the second year of the
restrained from bringing. But the work had been enough for materials that the Jewish people contributed. Jewish people’s travels in the desert. He then
all the necessary work, and there was extra. gave him instructions in placement of the
Betzalel and Oholiav, both highly skilled and utensils and the order of the Mishkan’s
What significance could there be in the fact that “all”
learned, were designated as the overseers of establishment.
those doing the work gave the report that enough
donations had been received? Also, what idea is
the entire construction. After two days, so much
being conveyed by the phrase that they came “from the work wealth and so many skills had been donated On the first of Nissan, Moses erected the entire
they were doing”? that Moses informed the people that there was Mishkan himself. He did exactly as G-d had
no longer any need for skilled craftsmen. commanded.

It would seem from the wording of the verse (26:6)
that the people wished to continue giving – even The parsha details the construction. It specifies The Cloud of Glory covered the Tent of
after they were told that no more contributions were
the measurements of the curtains and beams, Meeting, and His Glory filled the Mishkan.
needed – but they were restrained from giving any more. If
they genuinely wanted to give, why were they restrained?
which formed the inner and outer structures. It Whenever the Cloud lifted, Moses could enter
Couldn’t their donations be accepted and stored away for also describes the material of the cover, the to speak with G-d. The Cloud served during the
later use? planks, the parochet (partition), and the screen. years in the desert as a signal for the Jewish
Betzalel constructed the Ark, its cover, the table, people to travel to a new location. A fire
The verse (26:7) cryptically says that “the work had
been enough… and there was extra.” How could there
the menorah, incense altar, elevation-offering indicated G-d’s presence at night. The entire
be “extra” if there was (just) “enough”? altar, washing basin, courtyard, and screen of Jewish people witnessed this miracle
the gate of the courtyard. throughout their journeys.
Rabbi Lam can be reached at: