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   by Jacob Solomon

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PARASHAT VAYAHKEL-PEKUDEI - FOR THE STUDENT AND FOR AROUND THE TABLE - from 5766


QUESTIONS ON PARASHAT VAYAKHEL

Please note: Several of the structures of the Mishkan in this Parasha have already been dealt with in Parashat Teruma.

QUESTIONS ON THE ABOVE DIAGRAMS

1. Name items A - G on the Shulchan (Table).

2. Name items A - L on the Mishkan (Tabernacle).

ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS ON THE ABOVE DIAGRAMS

The Shulchan (Table)

A - Mold for the show bread

B - Shelving tubes - to bear the weight of the individual loaves of show bread

C - Golden crown - around the border of the table

D - Rings - to attach the staves to the main structure

E - Staves - to carry the table

F - Boards (vertically placed) - forming the structure for the show bread

G - Spoon for frankincense offering

QUESTIONS ON THE ABOVE DIAGRAM

1. Name items A - L on the Mishkan (Tabernacle).

ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS ON THE ABOVE DIAGRAMS

The Mishkan (Tabernacle)

A - Kodesh Hakadashim - the holiest part of the Mishkan, with the Aron Hakodesh - the Holy Ark.

B - The Kodesh - The holy part of the Mishkan - containing the Inner Altar, the Table, and the Menorah.

C - The tapestried screen separating the Holy area from the Holy of Holies.

D - The embroidered screen forming the entrance to the actual Mishkan structure.

E - The pillars supporting C - the tapestried screen.

F - The Boards (made of wood: overlain in gold) - arranged vertically - forming the walls of the Mishkan.

G - The silver sockets - into which the base tenons (extensions) of the boards slotted.

H - The Bars - holding together the boards, which formed the walls of the Mishkan.

I - Square rings to hold the boards together at the top ends.

J - The golden rings attached to the boards, through which the stablizing bars passed.

K - The pillars supporting D - the embroidered screen.

L - The copper sockets supporting pillars K.

QUESTIONS BASED ON THE COMMENTARIES TO PARASHAT VAYAKHEL

Explain why:

(a) The forbidding of lighting a fire on Shabbat (35:3) is the only prohibition of Shabbat explicitly mentioned in the Torah - according to the source quoted by Rashi.

(b) The request for gifts of raw materials for the construction of the Mishkan is expressed: 'he shall bring it' (35:5) - according to the Ohr Hachayim.

(c) The Torah pays tribute to the women participating in earlier stages of the construction of the Mishkan (35:22ff) - according to the Ramban.

(d) The word 'ne-siim' (35:27) is spelt defectively, without the two 'yuds' - according to Rashi.

(e) Betzalel was worthy of being reckoned as being in 'the shade of G-d' (the literal translation of his name) - according to Rashi. (quoting Berachot 55a in his comment on Parashat Pekudei - 38:22)

(f) Moses called a halt to the contributions to the Mishkan (36:6) - and what may be learnt from that - according to the Ramban.

(g) The brightly polished sheets of copper that the women used as mirrors were used as raw materials for the copper laver (38:8).

ANSWERS TO THE QUESTIONS BASED ON THE COMMENTARIES TO PARASHAT VAYAKHEL

(a) The Tslmud (Shabbat 70a) gives two opinions as to why the forbidding of lighting a fire on Shabbat is the only prohibition of Shabbat explicitly mentioned in the Torah. The first opinion is to give an example - the teaching being that just as the breaking of one law of Shabbat constitutes a full breach of Shabbat, similarly the breaking of any other of the individual laws of Shabbat constitutes a full breach of Shabbat. The second opinion holds that it is singled out as an exception to the general laws of Shabbat in that the penalty for breaking that law is less severe that for the breach of any other category of 'melacha'.

(b) The force of the words 'he shall bring it' (35:5), according to the Ohr Hachayim, puts the emphasis of the giving of gifts for the construction of the Mishkan on the goodwill of the donor. G-d Himself does not need contributions, but He does want the giver's sincere inner desire to elevate and unite himself with Him.

(c) According to the Ramban, the Torah actually pays tribute to the women participating in earlier stages of the construction of the Mishkan (35:22ff), as he understands the words 'vayavo-oo ha-anashim al ha hanashim' (35:22) as the men came 'with' the women. That implies that the men were secondary to the women in their enthusiasm to donate their valuables as raw materials for the Mishkan. Since the jewelry mentioned in the above verse was mainly worn by women, the Torah pays tribute to their immediate removal of their valuables as precious metals for the construction of the Mishkan.

(d) The word 'ne-siim' (35:27) is spelt defectively, without the two 'yuds' - according to Rashi, implying a criticism of their delay in contributing to the Tabernacle construction. They reasoned that they would let the public contribute first and then make up what was missing. But because they were 'lazy' in not racing to be at the front of the line, as it were, the Torah spells their name defectively. [They did not repeat their mistake the next time round - when the Tabernacle was dedicated, they brought generous donations immediately (Num. 7:2-3)] [Author's suggestion - there are some people do not give wedding presents immediately, but wait until after the wedding, telling the newly-wed to tell them what they would like, but did not receive. Fine in theory, but in practice, the couple may be too modest to state their real needs, they may have received more that they really believe they deserve, or, more mundanely, the good intentions may be forgotten and there will be no present at all.]

(e) Betzalel is described as having made the Mishkan 'all as G-d commanded Moses'. According to the sources quoted by Rashi, that includes something that Moses did not reveal to Betzalel - (but G-d told to Moses) - namely that the Mishkan should be constructed in the reverse order to the order of G-d's directions stated in Parashat Teruma. There, the vessels for the Mishkan were detailed before the construction of the Mishkan itself. However Betzalel's reasoning was in accordance to what Moses secretly knew to be correct - that the House (i.e. the Mishkan_) should be made first, so that when the vessels were completed they should have already have an appropriate home...

(f) The Ramban understands Moses' calling a halt to the contributions for the Mishkan to the credit of the Israelites. It testifies to their unbounded generosity, the scrupulous honesty of the artisans (refusing to accept more than they needed), and to Moses - who, unlike typical rulers, was not interested in accumulating huge treasuries that would be at his disposal.

(g) Rashi brings the explanation that when the women brought the copper mirrors, Moses was reluctant to accept then. The reason is because they incited vanity and lust. G-d, however, told Moses to accept those mirrors and that they were indeed very special - in the following way. Those very same mirrors had been instrumental in the creation of the Israelite nation. In Egypt, the men had come home exhausted from their back-breaking labor, and the women used mirrors to help them to present themselves to their husbands in an enticing manner... as a result of which the Israelites continued to increase in number under the slavery in Egypt.

ADDITIONAL QUESTION ON PARASHAT VAYAKHEL

Why (notwithstanding the discussion above) were further donations to the Tabernacle no longer welcome - or even acceptable? Running the Tabernacle, as well as building it, was undoubtedly an expensive business. The excess contributions could surely have been traded into the funds needed for the costly daily and special-occasion communal offerings.

*Please note - My own attempts to deal with the issues related to the above may be found in the archives for 5762 in Shema Yisrael - on Parashiot Vayakhel-Pekudei.

QUESTIONS ON PARASHAT PEDUDEI

Please note: Several of the structures of the Mishkan in this Parasha have already been dealt with in previous Parashiot.

Label the following parts of the set-up Mishkan - from A to M.

Answers:

A - The Tabernacle (outer goat skin cover)

B - The Tabernacle (roof of ram/tachash skins)

C - Entrance tapestried screen to Tabernacle

D - Outer Altar

E - Courtyard open space

F - Pillars supporting the courtyard surrounding structure

G - Entrance embroidered screen to the Tabernacle Courtyard

H - Copper sockets supporting the pillars, in turn supporting the Courtyard Screen.

I - Copper sockets supporting the pillars in turn supporting the surrounding structure to the Courtyard

J - Overhangings - forming the perimeter to the Tabernacle Courtyard

K - Copper Laver

M - Ramp for ascending the Outer Altar

QUESTIONS ON THE COMMENTARIES ON PARASHAT PEKUDEI

Explain the reason for the following:

(a) The Mishkan may be seen as having even greater intrinsic holiness than the First and Second Temples after it, according to the S'forno.

(b) Betzalel is credited with having done 'what G-d told Moses' rather than 'what Moses told him' in 38:22, according to Rashi.

(c) The work of the Mishkan is described as 'avoda' rather than 'melacha' (39:43), according to the Ramban.

(d) The connection between the events in this Parasha and Psalm 90, according to the Midrash (Tanhuma 11), quoted by Rashi.

In this Parasha (40:35), the text states that 'Moses could not enter the Ten of Meeting' as 'the glory of G-d filled the Tabernacle', but in Numbers (7:89), it states that Moses did regularly enter there. How does Rashi, quoting earlier commentaries, resolve this contradiction?

ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS ON THE COMMENTARIES ON PARASHAT PEKUDEI

(a) The Mishkan may be seen as having even greater intrinsic holiness than the First and Second Temples after it, for four reasons - alluded to in the opening of the Parasha. It was the 'Tabernacle of the Testimony' - where the Tablets of Stone were placed - as testimony to G-d communication with the Israelites. It was built 'under Moses' charge' - gaining from his personal role, and was the 'service of the Levites' who proved themselves loyal during and after the Golden Calf. It was also built by Betzalel, who was 'filled with the spirit of G-d' (31:35). Because of all these factors the Tabernacle, in contrast to the Temples was never looted, nor did it fall into enemy hands. Solomon's Temple, by contrast, was built by non-Israelite workmen. Though the Shechina rested on it, its parts became worn and required repair and replacement.

(b) Betzalel is credited with having done 'what G-d told Moses' rather than 'what Moses told him'. According to the sources quoted by Rashi, that includes something that Moses did not reveal to Betzalel (but G-d did tell to Moses) - namely that the Mishkan should be constructed in the reverse order to G-d's directions stated in Parashat Teruma. There, the vessels to the Mishkan were detailed before the construction of the Mishkan itself. However, Betzalel's reasoning was in accordance to what Moses secretly knew to be correct - that the House (i.e. the Mishkan) should be made first, so that when the vessels were completed, they should already have an appropriate home…

(c) The work of the Mishkan is described as 'avoda' rather than 'melacha' to emphasize that those who constructed it did not work in the spirit of mere laborers, but with the dedication of Priests engaged in the 'Avoda' - the sacred Temple service.

(d) The connection between the events in this Parasha and Psalm 90 - 'A Prayer to Moses' is that its concluding verse formed the dedication of the Tabernacle - 'May of … G-d be upon us - our handiwork may He establish for us; our handiwork may He establish'. (Psalms 90:17)

The contradiction may be resolved as follows. The words 'because the cloud rested on it' (40:35) suggest that the Shechina was at its most intense then, but Moses could enter the Tabernacle to communicate with G-d at other times.

ADDITIONAL QUESTION ON PARASHAT PEKUDEI

'The silver for the census of the community was a hundred talents and 1775 shekels…a half shekel…from each person who passed through the census takers, from the age of twenty five years and up' (38:25-26).

The text says that the silver was used for the sockets of the boards that formed the walls of the Mishkan, and it was also used in part of the construction for the outer courtyard. Yet the account of the collecting of the half-shekels is placed after the description of the making of those articles. Surely the text should have told us firstly about the collecting of the silver, and then what it was made into - i.e. in a chronological order?

*Please note - My own attempts to deal with the issues related to the above may be found in the archives for 5760 in Shema Yisrael - on Parashiot Vayakhel-Pekudei.

Please note that all the diagrams are adapted from 'Melechet Machashevet' - issued by the Vaad L'Ezras Chinuch of Gateshead, UK (1974).

Written by Jacob Solomon. Tel 02 673 7998. E-mail: jacobsol@netvision.net.il for any points you wish to raise and/or to join those that receive this Parasha sheet every week.

Also by Jacob Solomon:
Between the Fish and the Soup

From the Prophets on the Haftara

e-mail: jacobsol@netvision.net.il

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