Photo of Rabbi Ettedgui

Parashat Vayakhel - 5776

My friends,

This week's Parasha Vayakhel, and next week's Parasha Pekudei, in an ordinary year are read together. This year, however, being that it is a leap year, they are read separately. Both portions deal with the instructions of building the tabernacle, and the important items it will contain. To announce the project and the role that the people will play in this campaign, this Parasha begins with the words, "Moses assembled all the congregation of the Children of Israel".

But before he tells them about the Tabernacle and what items can be donated, he instructs them again about the Shabbat. "Six days work may be done but on the seventh day, you shall have a holy Shabbat to G-d, whoever does any work on it shall be put to death. You shall kindle no fire in all your settlements on the Shabbat." (Exodus 35:2-3)

Moses then returns to the campaign for building the Tabernacle.

Commentaries have compared the building of the Temple to G-d's creation of the universe. At the end of creation, G-d gave us the Shabbat for all humans and working animals to rest. So it is when people want to create a temple that is totally made by humans, that it should have the Shabbat, taking precedence over any activities which are not allowed on Shabbat; namely, creating fire and energy. This is a day when all humans, rich and poor, employers and employees, even working animals, are given a day off, a sacred day to remember who is the Creator of the Universe.

Someone reflected on the gift of Shabbat and said. "If I cannot complete whatever I am doing (earn a living, finish a project, etc.) in six days, working on the seventh day is not going to help. Take a day off and start over."

Shabbat Shalom,

Avram