"ויקהל משה את כל עדת בני ישראל"
“And Moshe assembled the entire Israelite community.” (35:1)
QUESTION: What message does Parshat Vayakheil impart to every Jew?
ANSWER: Generally, the parshiyot Vayakheil and Pekudei are read together. Vayakheil, “And you shall gather,” points to the unification of all the entities in this diverse world, uniting them within the domain of holiness. Pekudei, by contrast, means “counting,” and highlights how every entity possesses its own unique importance. For every creation was given a unique nature with which it can serve G‑d.
Although the sequence of the two parshiyot indicates that Vayakheil prepares one for Pekudei, Vayakheil represents an independent service in its own right. This concept receives greater emphasis when Vayakheil is read and studied as a separate parshah.
In particular, the message of Vayakheil applies to the Jewish people and alludes to their being gathered together to form a single collective entity in the spirit of the mitzvah, “Love your fellow man as yourself.” This is possible, because all Jews share a single essence; all are “truly a part of G‑d above.” (See Tanya, chapter 32.)
The importance of this service is emphasized by the fact that the Alter Rebbe, Rabbi Shneur Zalman, the founder of Chabad Chassidism, placed in the Nusach Ari Siddur the declaration “Behold I accept upon myself the fulfillment of the mitzvah ‘Love your fellowman as yourself,’ ” at the very beginning of the prayer service, making it the foundation of one’s daily activities.
This is the message of Parshat Vayakheil, that one seek to unite with every member of the Jewish people. Striving to unite with one’s fellow Jews, will lead to the ultimate fulfillment of Vayakheil, the ingathering of the Jewish people to Eretz Yisrael.
A significant lesson results from the fact that Vayakheil and Pekudei are read as separate parshiyot. There is no need to wait for Pekudei, the census of the Jewish people, for the beginning of Vayakheil, the ingathering of the exiles. On the contrary, the Jews will first gather together in Eretz Yisrael, and afterwards there will be a census.
(מהתועדות אחרונה של כ"ק אדמו"ר, כ"ה אדר א', תשנ"ב)
"ויקהל משה את כל עדת בני ישראל"
“And Moshe assembled the entire Israelite community.” (35:1)
QUESTION: Rashi writes that the gathering took place on the day after Yom Kippur. Why is it necessary to know when the assembly took place?
ANSWER: Moshe is known as the most humble person who ever lived (Bamidbar 12:23). One might ask, did not Shmuel HaNavi personally visit different communities and sit in judgment, in order not to trouble the people (I Samuel 7:17), while Moshe caused the people to come to him?
Perhaps Rashi wants to answer this question as follows: As King of the Jewish people, Moshe was entitled to the highest respect and forbidden to relinquish any due honor. When the Jewish people sinned with the golden calf, Hashem demoted Moshe. On Yom Kippur he was forgiven and reinstated as King. Moshe was indeed the most humble person who ever lived, but since he was speaking to the Jews after Yom Kippur — at which time he was already reinstated as the King — it would have been a lowering of his dignity to go around personally to visit the Jewish people. Consequently, it was proper to gather the people together via messenger.
"ויקהל משה את כל עדת בני ישראל"
“And Moshe assembled the entire Israelite community.” (35:1)
QUESTION: This gathering took place on the day after Yom Kippur (Rashi). When Yitro visited Moshe the Torah relates, “It was on the next day that Moshe sat to judge the people.” There, too, Rashi writes that it was the day after Yom Kippur” (Shemot 18:13). Why did these two events take place on the very same day?
ANSWER: At the gathering Moshe instructed them about donating for the construction of the Mishkan. Giving charity is a very great mitzvah, and it is vital that the money not be illegally acquired. Moshe knew that the Jews would contribute generously towards the Mishkan, but he wanted to make sure that the money was absolutely “kosher.” Therefore, on the day that he proclaimed the Mishkan appeal, he also sat in judgment to settle all cases and determine the rightful ownership of any disputed money.
"ויקהל משה את כל עדת בני ישראל ויאמר אלהם אלה הדברים אשר צוה ה' לעשת אתם"
“Moshe assembled the entire Israelite community and said to them: ‘These are the things that G‑d commanded, to do them.’” (35:1)
QUESTION: The words “la’asot otam” — “to do them” — appear superfluous?
ANSWER: “Vayakheil” indicates that Moshe made a “convention” of B’nei Yisrael. It is normal for a convention to consist of speeches, thoughts, and resolutions which do not lead to concrete results. Hashem commanded Moshe to ensure that the thoughts and resolutions shared at this “convention” were “la’asot otam” — brought down to actual practical results.
(לקוטי בתר לקוטי)
"ששת ימים תעשה מלאכה וביום השביעי יהיה קדש שבת שבתון לה'"
“Six days work shall be done and the seventh day shall be holy, a Sabbath of rest to G‑d.” (35:2)
QUESTION: Man was created to labor (Job 5:7). Why does the Torah talk about work in a “passive” form "תֵּעָשֶׂה מלאכה" — “work shall be done” — instead of using an active form "תַּעַשֶׂה מלאכה" — “You shall do work”?
ANSWER: A chasid of the Mitteler Rebbe, Rabbi DovBer Schneersohn (the second Lubavitcher Rebbe), went into the business of producing overshoes. It was soon apparent that his mind was more preoccupied with business matters than the observance of Torah and mitzvot. Once, when he visited Lubavitch, the Rebbe said to him, “Feet enveloped in overshoes are commonplace, but imagine a ‘head’ sunk in overshoes!”
The Torah is in favor of people working, but is against the entire person (head, mind, heart, and soul) being completely immersed in the work. Therefore, even during the six week days “work shall be done” (as if it is done on its own), but one’s primary preoccupation should be Torah and mitzvot.
(לקוטי שיחות ח"א)
* * *
Alternatively, in the merit of observing Shabbat properly, Hashem sends His berachah into the work done during the week, and the success experienced is much more than anticipated and disproportionate to the efforts.
The Torah alludes to this fact by telling us that during the six days "תֵּעָשֶׂה מלאכה" — work will be done for us if the seventh day (Shabbat) is observed properly as a holy day of rest.
"ביום השביעי יהיה לכם קדש שבת שבתון לה'"
“The seventh day shall be holy, a Sabbath of rest to G‑d.” (35:2)
QUESTION: It would be sufficient to say, "קדש שבתון לה' " — holy, a day of rest to G‑d.” Does not the word “Shabbat” seem extra?
ANSWER: The word “Shabbat” is an acronym for "שנה בשבת תענוג", which can be read in two ways.
1) שִׁנָה בְּשַׁבָּת תַּעַנוּג — “Studying Torah on Shabbat is a delight” (as in the word "ושננתם" = “You shall teach”).
2) שֵׁנָה בְּשַׁבָּת תַּעַנוּג — “Sleeping on Shabbat is a delight.”
Workers and business people who do not have much time to study Torah during the week should intensify their study of Torah on Shabbat. However, Torah scholars who study Torah the entire week should fulfill the mitzvah of Oneg Shabbat by indulging somewhat in eating and drinking since they experience the delight of Torah study throughout the week (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chaim 290).
Thus, the acronyms of the word “Shabbat” are a directive to Klal Yisrael, teaching each respective group a mode of conduct for the holy day of Shabbat.
(מיסוד על פנינים יקרים)
"לא תבערו אש בכל משבתיכם ביום השבת"
“You shall not kindle fire in any of your dwellings on the Sabbath day.” (35:3)
QUESTION: Why does the Torah single out this prohibition and not any of the other 39 major forbidden activities?
ANSWER: Heated arguments are like fire: Unfortunately, they destroy many homes, partnerships and relationships. When people are busy, they do not have time to argue and fight.
Because Shabbat is a day of rest, the Torah warns, “Beware not to kindle the ‘fire of dispute’ on the Shabbat day. Keep yourself busy with Torah study and davening, and avoid idleness.”
* * *
It is interesting to note that the last letters of the words "תבערו אש בכל משבתיכם" spell the word "שלום" — peace. This hints that, especially on Shabbat, we should make every effort to keep the peace.
* * *
In the Ten Commandments (Shemot 20:1-14), Hashem commands the Jews to observe Shabbat, because in six days heaven and earth and everything in it were created, and on the seventh day He rested. Adam was created on Friday and there was light the entire Friday night and Shabbat. On seeing darkness for the first time Saturday night, Adam rubbed two stones together and produced fire (Midrash Rabbah, Bereishit 11:2). Because of this, we recite the berachah, “Borei me’orei ha’eish” during Havdalah on Saturday night (Pesachim 54a).
Some people may think that since fire was not created during the first six days, Hashem did not rest from it on Shabbat, and thus one is permitted to make a fire on Shabbat. Therefore, Moshe had to stress that it is forbidden to ignite any fire on Shabbat.
"לא תבערו אש בכל משבתיכם ביום השבת"
“You shall not kindle fire in any of your dwellings on the Sabbath day.” (35:3)
QUESTION: Why is it customary to eat cholent on Shabbat?
ANSWER: In the times of the Sages of the Gemara there was a group of people known as the “Tzedokim” (Sadducees). They accepted only the Written Torah and refused to follow the explanations and interpretations rendered in the Oral Torah. Their philosophy was that Torah should be translated literally. According to them, the pasuk “Do not kindle fire in any of your dwellings on Shabbat” forbids one to have any fire burning during Shabbat, even when kindled before Shabbat. Thus, on Shabbat they would sit in the dark and eat cold food.
To demonstrate that we have no affiliation with the Tzedokim and their erroneous theories, we intentionally let food cook on the fire during Shabbat and eat it for the afternoon meal.
The importance of eating hot food on Shabbat is mentioned in the Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chaim 257:8), which states that one who does not observe this custom should be investigated for heresy.
"ויאמר משה אל כל עדת בני ישראל לאמר זה הדבר אשר צוה ה' לאמר"
“And Moshe spoke to all of the congregation of Israel, saying, ‘This is the thing which G‑d commanded, saying.’” (35:4)
QUESTION: The word “leimor” means to convey a message to others. Since Moshe was speaking to the entire community, does not the word “leimor,” employed twice in this pasuk, seem superfluous?
ANSWER: According to the Rambam, giving tzedakah to help a person in need is one of the greatest mitzvot. Anonymity is recommended and praised. The highest level of tzedakah is achieved when the giver does not know to whom his contribution goes and the receiver does not know who helps him (Rambam,Matanot Aniyim 10:8). However, this applies only when the tzedakah is given to an individual. Otherwise, the Rashba (Responsa 582) states that it is proper to publicize the names of those who give generously for charitable endeavors. Therefore, names of donors are inscribed on yeshivah buildings, synagogues, etc.
Regarding donations to the construction of the Mishkan, Moshe spoke to the entire community and told them, “leimor,” to publicize those who contributed generously. He stressed that this was not merely his own thinking, but the command and will of Hashem — “leimor” — to publicize the donors so that others would be encouraged to emulate their good deeds.
"ויבאו האנשים על הנשים"
“And the men came with the women.” (35:22)
QUESTION: Why did the women bring their husbands with them?
ANSWER: Everybody wanted to have the merit of participating in building the Mishkan. Men and women were eager to contribute their most valuable possessions for this holy purpose. Since many women do not have their own income, it is permitted to take only a small contribution from them. Taking a large sum is forbidden because the husbands may not agree (Yoreh Dei’ah 248:4). The women, wanting to donate their expensive gold jewelry for the Mishkan, brought their husbands with them to show that they were giving with spousal consent.
"ויבאו האנשים על הנשים"
“And the men came with the women” (35:22)
QUESTION: The word “al” usually means “on” or “above.” Why does it not say “im hanashim” which would mean “together with the women?”
ANSWER: While Moshe was in heaven receiving the Torah, men gave their gold to produce the golden calf but the women refused to participate. According to Midrash Rabbah (Shemot 51:8), donating gold for the Mishkan was a form of repentance for that sin.
The women who did not sin were “tzidkaniot” — “righteous women” — and did not need to repent, the men however, through their generosity, became ba’alei teshuvah. The Gemara (Berachot 34b) states that a ba’al teshuvah stands higher than a tzaddik. Thus, through giving their gold for the Mishkan, the men rose above the women.
"כל נדיב לב הביאו חח ונזם..."
“All willing hearted brought bracelets and earrings.” (35:22)
QUESTION: Why are the people who brought jewelry referred to as “nediv leiv” — “willing hearted” people and not those who simply offered gold?
ANSWER: Although gold is very valuable, a person’s own jewelry is especially cherished. Unlike a quantity of precious metal, which can be replaced, jewelry often has great sentimental value.
Donations of gold may indeed be generous, but donations of personal items to which one has become attached demonstrate that one is “nediv leiv” — “willing hearted.”
"וכל אשה חכמת לב בידיה טוו ויביאו מטוה את התכלת..."
“Every wise-hearted woman spun with her hands, and they brought the spun yarn of sky-blue wool.” (35:25)
QUESTION: According to halachah, a woman’s handiwork belongs to her husband. How were the women permitted to offer donations for the Mishkan?
ANSWER: According to the Gemara (Ketubot 59a), the Rabbis instituted the law that a woman must give what she produces to her husband because he is obligated to provide her sustenance. In the wilderness Hashem fed the Jewish people with manna from heaven. Since the husbands did not personally provide food for their wives, the above mentioned halachah did not apply. The wise-hearted women realized this and thus donated their handiwork for the benefit of the Mishkan.
"וכל הנשים אשר נשא לבן אתנה בחכמה טוו את העזים"
“All the women whose hearts stirred them up in wisdom spun the goat’s hair.” (35:26)
QUESTION: Rashi says, “This was a special skill, for they spun the goat’s hair upon the backs of the goats.”
Hashem’s instructions for the Mishkan do not require that the goat’s hair be spun on the back of the goats. Why does the Torah convey to us the technique by which the women spun the goats’ hair?
ANSWER: The Torah is teaching a very important lesson: When people possess special talents it is important for them to remember that Hashem blessed them with these talents so that they may be used to make this world a dwelling place for Hashem.
Since there were women who were blessed with the unique skill of spinning hair still on the backs of the goat, they utilized this skill for the holy purpose of making a Mishkan, in which Hashem would dwell.
(לקוטי שיחות חט"ז ע' 456)
"וכל הנשים אשר נשא לבן אתנה בחכמה טוו את העזים: והנשאם הביאו את אבני השהם ואת אבני המלאים"
“All the women whose hearts inspired them with wisdom spun the goat hair. The leaders brought the shoham stones and the stones for the settings.” (35:26-27)
QUESTION: What is the connection between the women spinning the goat hair and the nesi’im bringing their contributions?
ANSWER: Rashi cites Rabbi Natan (Bamidbar Rabbah 12:16) that the word “nesi’im” (נשאם) is spelled without a "י" because the leaders were somewhat lax in bringing contributions for the Mishkan. Originally, they waited to see what would be lacking, intending to give everything still needed. Seeing that the people gave in abundant measure, they immediately brought their generous offering of shoham stones and stones for the settings.
The Torah emphasizes that unlike the nesi’im, the women acted with zerizut — zeal and alacrity — for the building of the Mishkan. They hastened to do the spinning while the hair was still on the goats because they were too impatient to wait for the hair to be shorn off and delivered to them.
(עיטורי תורה - גבורי ישראל)
"והנשאם הביאו את אבני השהם"
“The nesi’im brought the stones of shoham.” (35:27)
QUESTION: The word “nesi’im” is written without a “yud” because in the beginning they did not contribute to the Mishkan. They thought, “Let the other Jews first give what they can, and whatever is lacking we shall complete.” Due to their failure to take the initiative, the letter “yud” was omitted from their title (Rashi).
Why the letter “yud” and not any other letter?
ANSWER: In Hebrew, one way to change a word from singular to plural is to add a “yud.” For example the word "פתיל" means “a thread” and the word "פתילי" means “threads.” "נשיא" means “a Prince” and "נשיאי" means “many Princes.”
Originally, the nesi’im decided not to participate with Klal Yisrael in the Mishkan construction. Therefore, while everybody was contributing generously to the construction, they stood idly on the side. Hence, the letter “yud,” which indicates plurality, was omitted from their name.
"ראו קרא ה' בשם בצלאל בן אורי בן חור למטה יהודה"
“See, G‑d has called by name Betzalel son of Uri son of Chur, of the tribe of Yehudah.” (35:30)
QUESTION: Why is it necessary to list Betzalel’s genealogy?
ANSWER: The Jewish people anticipated Moshe’s return from heaven at a specific time. When, according to their calculations, he did not return, they approached Aharon requesting a new leader. His nephew Chur opposed them vehemently and was killed by the violent crowd (see Rashi 32:5).
As a means of atonement for the sin of worshipping the golden calf, Hashem ordered the construction of the Mishkan, for which much gold was to be used. Due to the link between the Mishkan and the golden calf, Chur, who died “al kiddush Hashem” — sanctifying Hashem — merited that Hashem select his grandson as the architect of the Mishkan.
"וימלא אתו רוח אלקים בחכמה בתבונה ובדעת ובכל מלאכה ולחשב מחשבות לעשת בזהב ובכסף ובנחשת"
“And He had imbued him with a G‑dly spirit, with wisdom, in understanding, and in knowledge, and in all workmanship. And to devise skillful works in gold and silver.” (35:31-32)
QUESTION: The words “velachshov machashavot” — “to devise skillful works” — seem redundant. Since he was “imbued with a G‑dly spirit in all workmanship,” obviously he could do the most skillful work?
ANSWER: People generously contributed gold, silver, and copper for the construction of the Mishkan. Undoubtedly every donor would want his valuable metals to be used in the construction of the most prestigious and holy artifact.
In Hebrew the word “machashavot” means “thoughts.” Betzalel was imbued with a G‑dly spirit to be a chosheiv machashavot — a mind reader. He was able to hold a piece of metal in his hand and know the thoughts and intentions of the donor. Those which were given with holy and pure thoughts were used for the more exalted items.
"ולהורת נתן בלבו הוא ואהליאב בן אחיסמך למטה דן"
“And He has put it into his heart that he may teach, both he and Oholiav son of Achisamach of the tribe of Dan.” (35:34)
QUESTION: Why is it necessary to mention Betzalel’s teaching ability?
ANSWER: In the times of the Beit Hamikdash there were a few families and individuals who were uniquely talented in preparing things for the Beit Hamikdash. The Gormu family was expert in the baking of the lechem hapanim, the Avtinus family was talented in preparing theketoret, etc. (Yoma 38a). The sages were very upset with them for refusing to convey their skills to others.
Betzalel and Oholiav were blessed with exceptional architectural talent. They did not consider this to be a personal asset, but rather something to pass on to others.
When Hashem blesses a person, it is incumbent upon him to share and convey to others his divine blessings and talents. Therefore, the Torah praises Betzalel for sharing his knowledge with others.
"ועשה בצלאל ואהליאב וכל איש חכם לב אשר נתן ה' חכמה ותבונה בהמה לדעת לעשת את כל מלאכת עבדת הקדש לכל אשר צוה ה'"
“Betzalel shall carry out — with Ahaliav and every wise-hearted man within whom G‑d had endowed wisdom and insight to know and to do all the work for the labor of the Sanctuary — everything that G‑d had commanded.” (36:1)
QUESTION: In lieu of “baheimah” — “in them” — it should have said “bahem.” From this the Midrash Rabbah (48:3) derives that Hashem had endowed wisdom and insight also in the beheimah — animal. Why was it necessary that there should be wisdom in the animal?
ANSWER: The women spun the hair while it was on the goats (Rashi 35:26). It was necessary for the animal to possess wisdom so that it would cooperate when used for this kind of difficult spinning.
"והם הביאו אליו עוד נדבה בבקר בבקר"
“They brought additional donations each morning.” (36:3)
QUESTION: What donations did the workers bring each morning?
ANSWER: According to halachah the working day starts at sunrise and ends at night when the stars appear. At sunrise the worker leaves his home for the job, and the travel time and time to eat breakfast is at the employer’s expense.
For the building of the Mishkan, — “veheim” — the workers — gave a special donation of “boker” — “morning.” They woke up especially early and started working at alot hashachar — rising of the morning star — so they would have more time to work during the day.
(פנינים יקרים ועי' בבא מציעא דף פ"ג ע"ב תוס')
"ויבאו כל החכמים...איש איש ממלאכתו אשר המה עשים"
“And all the wise people came ... every man from his work that they were doing.” (36:4)
QUESTION: The Gemara (Sanhedrin 69b) derives from the word “Ish” that Betzalel the chief architect was only 13 years old. There were undoubtedly many older people with much more experience. Why then was such a young person selected as chief architect?
ANSWER: Regarding the Mishkan it is said, “And they shall make for me a Sanctuary — ‘veshachanti betocham’ — and I will dwell among them.” Grammatically it should have said “veshachanti betocho” — “and I will dwell in it.” From this it is deduced (Shelah) that Hashem’s intent was to dwell in each individual — that every Jew should make himself a dwelling place for G‑dliness.
The selection of Betzalel at the young age of 13 implies that as soon as a Jewish boy becomes obligated in the performance of mitzvot, he is required to make himself a Holy Sanctuary in which G‑d will want to dwell.
"איש ואשה אל יעשו עוד מלאכה לתרומת הקדש ויכלא העם מהביא"
“‘Man and woman shall not do more work toward the gift for the Sanctuary.’ And the people were restrained from bringing.” (36:6)
QUESTION: Why was it necessary for a complete cessation of donations? It could have been proclaimed that the people continue bringing, and the additional contribution would be kept in reserve for future charitable needs.
ANSWER: Moshe notified the Jews that no further donations were needed for the construction of the Mishkan; but if they wanted to contribute, the materials would be kept for future charitable purposes. The Jewish people are great performers of gemilut chasadim — deeds of kindness — and they continued to donate generously, relying on Moshe’s discretion.
The term “am” refers to “Eirev Rav” — the mixed multitude of people who joined the Jews when they left Egypt. It was they who stopped giving because they were only interested in donating for the building of the Mishkan, something for Hashem, but not in benefiting another person.
(פניני התורה בשם ר' שלמה ז"ל קלוגער)
* * *
Interestingly, in the Beit Hamikdash, gentiles were also able to bring offerings. However, a gentile would only bring a Korban Olah, a burnt-offering which went entirely for Hashem (Menachot 73b). A Jew could also bring a Karban Shelamim — peace-offering — from which Hashem received a part, and from which the Kohen also had enjoyment.
"ויכלא העם מהביא"
“And the people stopped bringing.” (36:6)
QUESTION: The Ba’al Haturim notes that the word “Vayikalei” — and they stopped” — is found twice in the Torah. Once here and once in Bereishit (8:2): “vayikalei hageshem min hashamayim” — “and the rain from the heaven stopped.”
What is the connection between the two?
ANSWER: Rain produces material abundance: Plentiful rain brings affluence, and drought leads to famine and deprivation.
Many people give charity generously when Hashem showers them with heavenly blessings. As soon as “vayikalei hageshem min hashamayim” — their income is reduced — immediately, “vayikalei ha’am meihavi” — the first thing they curtail is the giving of tzedakah. Little do they realize that their wealth will not be minimized by the giving of tzedakah.
(לקוטי בתר לקוטי ח"א)
* * *
The prophet states, “So says Hashem ‘Ani Rishon veAni Acharon’ — ‘I am the First and I am the Last’ ” (Isaiah 44:6). According to a homiletic interpretation, Hashem is bemoaning the fact that when a person has to limit his spending, instead of reducing personal pleasures, he first reduces his expenditures for Torah and mitzvot.
On the other hand, when one is blessed with financial success, after satisfying himself with all the amenities of life, lastly he thinks of Hashem and begins to spend for His causes.
(פון אונזער אלטען אוצר, דברים)
"והמלאכה היתה דים לכל המלאכה לעשות אתה והותר"
“But the materials were sufficient for all the work that had to be done and more than enough.” (36:7)
QUESTION: The words “dayam” and “vehoteir” are contradictory. “Dayam” means sufficient and “vehoteir” means “more than enough.”
ANSWER: When Moshe announced the need for contributions to construct the Mishkan, the response was enthusiastic. Everyone brought gold, silver, copper, etc., and much more was donated than was actually needed.
If it had happened that some of the donations were unused, people would have been disappointed, attributing the non-use to their personal unworthiness. In order not to disappoint anyone, Hashem performed a miracle that everything donated was utilized for the construction.
The Torah alludes to this by observing that though it was “vehoteir” — more than enough — yet “dayam lechal hamelachah” — miraculously the work that had to be done was enough to utilize everything that was donated.
"ויעש בצלאל את הארן עצי שטים"
“And Betzalel made the Ark of cedar wood.” (37:1)
QUESTION: Why is the name of Betzalel mentioned in connection with the Ark and not in relation to other vessels of the Mishkan?
ANSWER: Moshe broke the first set of Tablets on the 17th day of Tammuz. Forty days later Hashem said to him, “Carve out two Tablets of stone like the first and come up to Me on the mount, and make for yourself an Ark of wood.” This Ark was not the Ark built by Betzalel, because the construction of the Mishkan first began after Yom Kippur. Consequently, there was an Ark made by Moshe and another one by Betzalel. The Ark made by Moshe traveled with the Jewish people when they went to war, and the one made by Betzalel always remained in the Mishkan except in the days of Eli, the High Priest (see Devarim 10:1,3, Rashi).
Therefore, though Betzalel was involved in the making of all of the vessels of the Mishkan, his name is mentioned specifically only in the making of the Ark. This is to emphasize that he made the Ark which was in the Mishkan, in addition to the one previously made by Moshe.
"ויעש בצלאל את הארן.. ויעש לו זר זהב סביב...ויעש את השלחן..ויעש לו זר זהבסביב..ויעש את מזבח הקטרת..ויעש לו זר זהב סביב"
“And Betzalel made the Ark ... and he made for it a crown of gold round about ... and he made the table ... and he made for it a crown of gold round about ... and he made the altar of incense ... and he made for it a crown of gold round about.” (37:1-2, 10, 11, 25-26)
QUESTION: The crown around the Ark represents the crown of Torah. The crown around the table represents the crown of Malchut — Kingship —and the one around the altar represents the crown of Kehunah — Priesthood.
In Pirkei Avot (4:13) when Rabbi Shimon speaks of these three crowns, he concludes that “Vecheter sheim tov oleh al gabeihen” — “A crown of a good name surpasses them all.” Why wasn’t there another crown in the Mishkan to represent Keter Shem Tov?
ANSWER: A crown is a symbol of grandeur which brings magnificence and splendor to its bearer. Sometimes, one who has earned the crown of Torah, Priesthood, or Kingship may still lack a good reputation due to his poor personality. Rabbi Shimon teaches that in reality there are only three crowns. The crown of a good name is not an additional one, but rather the integral part of each of the three others. The three crowns add glory to the one who wears them, only if he possesses a good name and reputation.
(מדרש שמואל - הר"מ אלשקאר ז"ל)
"ויעש את הכיור נחשת ואת כנו נחשת במראת הצבאת אשר צבאו פתח אהל מועד"
“He made a laver of copper and its base of copper, from the mirrors of the legions who massed at the entrance of the Tent of Meeting.” (38:8)
QUESTION: According to Rashi, the “legions” were the women. They had mirrors for adorning themselves; and they did not refrain from bringing even these objects of personal pride as a contribution for the Mishkan. However, Moshe saw these as objects of vanity and personal pride and was hesitant to take these mirrors for use in the Mishkan. Therefore, Hashem told them, “Take them, because these are the most beloved to me.”
1) Why is it emphasized that the women gathered. Didn’t all the people gather? 2) Why were these most beloved to Hashem? 3) Why was the laver made specifically from copper of the mirrors of the women?
ANSWER: 1) The men brought their donations and left immediately. However, since Moshe was apprehensive about the gift the women brought, a crowd of women gathered and waited for Moshe to receive Divine guidance.
2) A woman’s beauty is confirmed with mirrors. Thus, while all others gave contributions from their various resources, the women gave from their most personal possessions, their beauty. Therefore, because of this profound emotional sacrifice, the mirrors were most beloved to Hashem.
3) Water from the laver was used to test wives suspected of being unfaithful. If the allegations against them were found to be untrue, they merited Heavenly blessings. The mirrors were donated by righteous women to create the laver, through which the unfaithful were excluded and the righteous rewarded accordingly.
"ויעש את הכיור נחשת ואת כנו נחשת במראת הצבאת"
“He made a Laver of copper and its base of copper, from the mirrors of the legions.” (38:8)
QUESTION: King Shlomo made ten Lavers in the Beit Hamikdash and we are told their sizes (I Kings 32:28); why were there no instructions given as to the size of the Laver of the Mishkan?
ANSWER: The Laver was made exclusively from the brightly polished pieces of copper the women used as mirrors, and not from any of the other donated copper. Moshe was reluctant to accept them because they were made to accomplish the ends of the yeitzer hara (Evil Inclination) — to incite lust. Hashem told him, “These are dearest to Me, by means of these the women established many legions of offspring in Egypt.”
The Torah does not give a specific size that the Laver should be because every single mirror had to go into it, no matter how big it would become — so sacred were those mirrors.
* * *
QUESTION: Why did Moshe consider rejecting the mirrors but accept the golden chumaz (35:22), which was placed on the private parts of a woman?
ANSWER: The women’s golden jewelry would be mixed with all the other gold and melted down. Thus, it would be impossible to detect where any piece of gold ended up in the Mishkan. The Laver, however, was to be made exclusively from these polished copper mirrors. Since “the mirrors” would always be outstanding, Moshe was reluctant to accept them.
Dvar Torah Questions and Answers on Pekudei
"אלה פקודי המשכן"
“These are the accounts of the Mishkan...” (38:21)
QUESTION: The Torah is careful not to repeat a word or write an extra letter. Hence, theparshiot of Vayakheil and Pekudei which are a repitition of Terumah and Tetzaveh should have been omitted?
ANSWER: The Torah discusses at great length the episodes that took place when Eliezer goes to find a suitable wife for Yitzchak. When he meets with her family, the entire story is repeated. Rashi explains, “The ordinary conversation of the servants of the Patriarchs is more pleasing before Hashem than the Torah of the sons. Therefore, the section of Eliezer is repeated in the Torah, whereas many important principles of the law were given only by hinting.” (See Bereishit 24:42, Rashi.)
The gravest sin ever committed by the Jewish people was the making and worshipping of the golden calf. It incited the wrath of Hashem to the extent that He considered, G‑d forbid, annihilating the entire people. The Mishkan is referred to as the Mishkan of Testimony (משכן העדות) because it serves as a testimony that Hashem forgave the sin of the golden calf (see Vayikra 9:23, Rashi). Consequently, since the Mishkan accomplished forgiveness for His beloved people, He enjoys talking about it repeatedly.
(לקוטי שיחות חט"ז)
"אלה פקודי המשכן משכן העדת"
“These are the accounts of the Mishkan, [the] Mishkan of Testimony.” (38:21)
QUESTION: Rashi says in the name of the Midrash that the word “Mishkan” is repeated twice as a hint to the Beit Hamikdash, which was taken as a pledge (“mashkon”) in the two destructions for the sins of the Jewish people.”
How does the word “Mishkan” — “Tabernacle” — hint at the Beit Hamikdash?
ANSWER: The first Beit Hamikdash stood for a total of 410 years and the second Beit Hamikdash lasted 420 years. The word "משכן" has the numerical value of 410 and the word "המשכן" has the numerical value of 415. If we add five to the numerical value for the five letters of the word, we have 420.
* * *
The Gemara (Yoma 21b) relates that in the second Beit Hamikdash there were five things missing which were in the first Beit Hamikdash. Therefore, the Torah’s allusion to the second Beit Hamikdash (המשכן) has the numerical value of only 415.
"אלה פקודי המשכן משכן העדת"
“These are the accounts of the Mishkan....” (38:21)
QUESTION: In the beginning of Parshat Mishpatim, Rashi gives a rule that the word “eileh” dismisses, and the word “ve’eileh” adds. What does the word “eileh” in our pasuk dismiss?
ANSWER: In the nineteenth century there lived in England the famous Jewish philanthropist Sir Moses Montefiore. Queen Victoria once asked him, “How much wealth do you have? How much do you own?” Sir Moses told her it would take him a few days to do some accounting; afterwards he would be able to reply. When Sir Moses told her the amount of his wealth, she became upset, saying, “You are insulting me. Everyone knows that you have much more.” Sir Moses explained that he considered as his wealth whatever money he gave away to tzedakah. Anything else that he had was only temporary and subject to confiscation or loss.
The usage of the word “eileh” — “these are” — suggests homiletically that the only meaningful holdings one possesses are the resources that are devoted to building Hashem’s sanctuaries or for other holy purposes. Only such investments are eternal; all others are transitory.
* * *
According to the Midrash Rabbah (Bamidbar 22:8), the Hebrew word for money indicates that it is transitory: the word “mamon”— "ממון" — is an acronym for "מה אתה מונה" — “What are you counting? It is nothing!”
“The tabernacle of testimony.” (38:21)
QUESTION: Why is the Mishkan called, “Mishkan Ha’eidut” (Tabernacle of Testimony)?
ANSWER: From the time the Mishkan was built in the dessert until the construction of the first Beit Hamikdash by King Shlomo there elapsed a period of 479 years. The word“Ha’eidut” (העדת) has the numerical equivalent of 479. This alludes to the fact that for 479 years the Mishkan served as a testimony to Hashem’s dwelling among the Jewish people.
"אשר פקד על פי משה"
“Which was counted according to the commandment of Moshe.” (38:21)
QUESTION: Shouldn’t the pasuk say, “the commandment of Hashem”?
ANSWER: In the times of Mashiach we will have the third Beit Hamikdash. The words “al pi” (על פי) — “according to” — have the numerical value of 190, which spells the word "קץ"— “keitz” — the word used to describe the end of galut. Consequently, in the same pasuk where there is a hint to the two Batei Mikdash which were destroyed (see Rashi), there are mentioned the words “al pi Moshe” — to suggest that through studying the Torah which was given through Moshe, we will merit the keitz — end of galut — and the coming of Mashiach, and ultimately the building of the third Beit Hamikdash. (See Malachi 3:22,23.)
"ובצלאל בן אורי בן חור למטה יהודה עשה את כל אשר צוה ה' את משה"
“And Betzalel the son of Uri, the son of Chur, of the tribe of Yehudah, made all that G‑d commanded Moshe.” (38:22)
QUESTION: Rashi explains that it says Betzalel did all that G‑d commanded Moshe and not that he did as Moshe commanded him because Moshe told Betzalel to make the vessels first and the Mishkan afterwards. Betzalel objected and made the Mishkan first and then the vessels. His reasoning was that it is logical for one first to build a house and afterwards the furnishings.
Moshe agreed with Betzalel and said to him, “The name ‘Betzalel’ which means ‘in the shadow of G‑d’ ” is most appropriate for you because you display prophetic knowledge. This is exactly what Hashem told me: to first make the Mishkan and later the vessels.”
If Hashem had told Moshe to make the Mishkan first and then the vessels, why did he reverse the order when instructing Betzalel?
ANSWER: When Moshe had instructed Betzalel to be in charge of the construction of the Mishkan, he feared being accused of nepotism. People might have complained, “Why did you choose your young nephew for such an important position rather than not seek someone more qualified?” Moshe wanted to prove that though Betzalel was related to him and only thirteen years old, it was indeed Hashem who had designated him.
Therefore, Moshe reversed the order of the commands he received from Hashem and publicly instructed to first make the vessels, certain that Betzalel possessed Ruach Hakodesh and that he would act in the way Hashem actually instructed. Based on Betzalel’s response, Moshe declared to the people, “See that Hashem selected Betzalel, the son of Uri, the son of Chur (35:30). It was not I who chose him; he was appointed by Hashem, and he knew exactly what Hashem commanded.”
(שער בת רבים)
* * *
Alternatively, when Hashem conveyed the command of constructing the Mishkan, He said to Moshe, “According to everything that I show you, the form of the Mishkan and the form of all its vessels, vechein ta’asu — and so shall you do” (25:9).
The “vav” in the word “vechein” seems to indicate that there were two messages given to Moshe. 1) To make everything according to how he was shown by G‑d. 2) “Vechein ta’asu” — “andso shall you do.” Rashi explains this as a second command referring to the future, should there be a need to replace any vessels of the Tabernacles. However, it can also be interpreted to refer to the chronological order according to which the vessels of the Tabernacle should be made.
Moshe originally explained it as Rashi does, and thus he had no directive from Hashem for the order in which to make the vessels. Consequently, he considered making the vessels before the Mishkan. When Betzalel disagreed and argued that it is customary to build the house before the furniture, Moshe agreed saying, “You are correct and you are in the shadow of G‑d. Indeed, when G‑d commanded me to make the Mishkan and said ‘Vechein ta’asu,’ He must have been referring to the order of priority, and thus I agree with you that the Mishkan should be made before the vessels.”
(שו"ת תירוש ויצהר סי' קל"ד)
"ויעשו את בגדי הקדש אשר לאהרן כאשר צוה ה' את משה"
“And they made the holy garments for Aharon, as G‑d had commanded Moshe.” (39:1)
QUESTION: Why was it necessary to stress “as G‑d had commanded Moshe”?
ANSWER: The words “as G‑d had commanded Moshe” are repeated 18 times in this parshah. Eighteen is equal to “chai” (חי) — “life.” The Torah informs us that throughout his entire life, Moshe continuously strove to do as G‑d commanded him.
(עי' בעל הטורים)
"ויעשו את ציץ...ויכתבו עליו פתוחי חותם קדש לה'"
“They made the head-plate...and they wrote in the same manner as a signet ring’s engraving, ‘Kodesh LaHashem’ (Holy to G‑d).” (39:30)
QUESTION: Why does it say, “vayichtevu” — “they wrote” —in plural?
ANSWER: The Gemara (Yoma 38a) relates that Ben Kamtzar, was able to hold four pens in his hand and write the four letters of Hashem’s name at the same time. The Rabbis were upset with him because he refused to teach this skill to anyone else. The Rabbis wanted him to teach others because the first two letters of Hashem’s name (י-ה) form one of his names. The next letter, "ו", changes it to a regular word, and this raises the question of mechikah (erasing) Hashem’s name (Minchat Chinuch 437). Ben Kamtzar avoided this question by writing all four letters simultaneously.
Consequently, when they made the head-plate, in order to avoid any halachic problems connected with erasing Hashem’s name, they wrote — four people together — each writing one letter of Hashem’s name on the head-plate at the same time.
(עי' מנחת חינוך תל"ז, ועי' תוס' יו"ט יומא פ"ג מי"א)
"ותכל כל עבדת משכן אהל מועד ויעשו בני ישראל ככל אשר צוה ה' את משה"
“All the work of the Mishkan was completed and the Jewish people did according to all that G‑d commanded Moshe.” (39:32)
QUESTION: Why is it necessary to emphasize that the Jews did “according to all” that Hashem commanded Moshe? Who would dare to do otherwise?
ANSWER: According to halachah, Ha’oseik bemitzvah patur min hamitzva” — when one is involved in performing a mitzvah, he is exempt from doing other mitzvot (Succah 25a). When the Jews were preoccupied with the building of the Mishkan, there were many mitzvot that they did not fulfill. The pasuk tells us that once the work on the Mishkan was completed, the B’nei Yisrael resumed performing all the mitzvot of the Torah, which Hashem had commanded through Moshe.
"וירא משה את כל המלאכה...ויברך אתם משה"
“Moshe saw all the work...And Moshe blessed them.” (39:43)
QUESTION: His blessing was "יהי רצון שתשרה שכינה במעשה ידיכם" — “May His Divine presence abide in the work of your hands” (Rashi). Why didn’t Moshe say, “May the Shechinah rest in the Mishkan”?
ANSWER: When the Jews were involved in building the Mishkan, Hashem was delighted with His chosen people because they were in an exalted spirit. After the Mishkan was completed, they returned to their regular mundane activities.
Undoubtedly, Moshe prayed that the Shechinah should be pleased with Klal Yisrael and dwell in the Mishkan. However, in addition, he also blessed the Jews that when they are involved in “ma’aseh yedeichem” — their regular daily activities and preoccupations — even then they should conduct themselves in such a way to merit that the Shechina should feel “comfortable” in their midst.
"ביום החדש הראשון .. תקים את המשכן .. הוקם המשכן .. ויקם משה את המשכן"
“On the day of the first month you shall erect the Mishkan ... The Mishkan was erected ... Moshe erected the Mishkan.” (40:1, 17, 18)
QUESTION: Why is the erection of the Mishkan mentioned three times?
ANSWER: The mention of the three erections of the Mishkan is a remez — hint — to the three holy Temples of the Jewish people. The first was built by King Shlomo. The second was erected when Ezra returned from Babylon after the Jews had experienced 70 years of exile. The third will come down from heaven fully built. (See Sukkah 41a, Rashi.)
Two of the expressions [“takim” — “you shall put up” and “vayakem” — “and Moshe put up”] connote human involvement. The third expression (“hukam” — was erected) is passive and alludes to the third Beit Hamikdash which will, please G‑d, be put up speedily by Hashem Himself.
"ביום החדש הראשון באחד לחדש תקים את משכן אהל מועד"
“On the day of the first month, on the first day of the month, you shall erect the Tabernacle, the Tent of Meeting.” (40:2)
QUESTION: The construction of the Mishkan was completed on the 25th day of Kislev (see Tur Orach Chaim 684). Why was its assembly delayed until Rosh Chodesh Nissan?
ANSWER: Hashem told Moshe to wait with the dedication until the auspicious day of Rosh Chodesh Nissan because in the month of Nissan our forefather Yitzchak was born. The simchah — joy — would be enhanced with the mixing of the two joyous occasions (the erection of the Mishkan and commemoration of Yitzchak’s birth).
Hashem also said that “In Nissan when I informed Avraham through my angels about the birth of Yitzchak they said in My behalf ‘I shall return to you’ (Bereishit 18:10, Rashi). Thus, I will return — i.e. rest My Glory among Klal Yisrael, i.e., in the Mishkan — in the month of Nissan when Yitzchak was born.”
The 25th of Kislev felt somewhat slighted. As an appeasement, the rededication of the second Beit Hamikdash, in the days of the Hasmoneans, took place on the 25th of Kislev — Chanukah.
(מדרש תנחומא סוף פקודי ועי' בעץ יוסף שם, ילקוט שמעוני מלכים סוף רמז קפ"ד)
* * *
QUESTION: Why didn’t Hashem follow the ruling of the Gemara (Yevamot 47b) “Shehuyei mitzvah lo mashi’im” — “We do not delay the performance of a mitzvah”?
ANSWER: Some say that if by the delay it will be performed in a better way (in our case, enhanced simchah — joy) it may be delayed.
Alternatively, this rule only applies to a yachid — individual — lest he may die and not do the mitzvah altogether. However, it does not apply in the case a community, because tzibur lo meit — a community does not die.
"ויקם משה את המשכן ויתן את אדניו וישם את קרשיוויתן את בריחיו ויקם את עמודיו"
“And Moshe erected the Mishkan and he put down its sockets, and set up its boards, and inserted its bars and erected its pillars.” (40:18)
QUESTION: Since the pasuk enumerates “its sockets,” “its boards,” “its bars,” “its pillars,” the words “vayakem Moshe et haMishkan” are superfluous.
ANSWER: A number of coverings were placed upon the Mishkan. Actually, the lower covering created a closed entity which in itself is the true Mishkan. Thus, the passage, “And Moshe set up the Mishkan” specifically means the hanging of the bottom covering.
Although the workers first made the boards and sockets and the covering afterwards, when Moshe erected the Mishkan, he put up the covering first and caused it to be suspended miraculously. Consequently, only later did he place the additional components of the “sockets,” “boards,” “bars,” and “pillars” to the miraculously suspended Mishkan.
* * *
QUESTION: Obviously, it would have been much easier to first raise up the boards and then place the coverings over them. Why did Moshe do it in this complex way, relying on a miracle to suspend the curtains in mid-air?
ANSWER: The Midrash (Tanchuma, Pekudei 11) states that the construction of the Mishkan paralleled the creation of heavens and earth. There is an opinion in the Gemara (Chagiga 12a) that the heavens were created first, and the earth afterwards. Therefore, Moshe, following Hashem’s actions, first placed the curtains, which are equal to the heavens, before putting up the sockets and the boards, which are comparable to the earth.
(It is interesting to note, that in parshat Terumah, the instructions for the coverings are mentioned before the instructions for the boards and sockets [see 26:1 and 26:15].)
"ויקם משה את המשכן"
“And Moshe erected the Mishkan.” (40:18)
QUESTION: According to Midrash Rabbah (Bamidbar 12:10), during the first seven days of dedication Moshe would erect and dismantle the Mishkan daily.
In a seven day period there must be a Shabbat. How was Moshe allowed to do this work on Shabbat?
ANSWER: The completed Mishkan was extremely heavy and the people were not able to stand it up. They confronted Moshe with their dilemma, and he, too, was unable to erect it. He turned to Hashem saying, “How is it possible to erect it by means of man?” Hashem told him, “Put your hand to it.” It appeared as though Moshe erected it, but actually it stood up by itself (Rashi 39:33). Since in reality everything was a miracle of Hashem and Moshe did not do any physical labor, there was no question of desecrating Shabbat.
"ויקח ויתן את העדות אל הארן"
“He took and he put the Tablets into the Ark.” (40:20)
QUESTION: The word “Vayikach” — “he took” — seems extra; it should have just said, “He put the tablets into the Ark”?
ANSWER: When Moshe received the Tablets the Mishkan was not built yet. Moshe made an Ark of wood in which he placed the Tablets and stored it in his tent (Devarim 10:1). When the Mishkan was constructed, Betzalel made an Ark of gold to house the Tablets. Therefore, the Torah tells us that “Vayikach” — Moshe took out the Tablets from the temporary wooden Ark and “vayitein” — he put them into the permanent Ark of gold.
"וישם את הבדים על הארן"
“And he inserted the staves on the Ark.” (40:20)
QUESTION: The staves were on the side of the Ark. Why is it written “on the Ark”?
ANSWER: The Ark represents the Torah scholars, and the staves represent those who support them. Not only should the supporters of Torah be alongside the scholars and offer their help when it is needed, but they should also be “on top” of the Torah scholars. It is incumbent on the supporters of Torah to project the needs of the scholars and assure that they be able to study Torah in peace and tranquillity.
"אלה פקודי...בכל מסעיהם"
“These are the accounts...Throughout all their journeys” (38:21, 40:38)
QUESTION: The number of pesukim and a word which adds up to that number is written at the end of every Parshah of the Torah. The word is supposed to serve as a siman (סימן) — a mnemonic for the number of pesukim. Why is this omitted at the end of Parshat Pekudei?
ANSWER: The reason may be due to the fact that in Parshat Pekudei there are 92 pesukim and the words “בלי כל” have the numerical value of 92. Possibly, in a early print of the Chumash, a typesetter who was a mediocre scholar noticed that it was written at the end of the parshah "צ"ב, בלי כל סימן". Erroneously, he understood it to mean “92, without any siman,” and therefore he omitted it.
(לקוטי שיחות ח"ו ע' 408, ובחומש עם מלבים כתב "צ"ב פסוקים אצא סימן")
"כי ענן ה' על המשכן יומם ואש תהיה לילה בו...בכל מסעיהם"
“A cloud of G‑d was on the Mishkan by day and fire used to be over it by night...throughout their journeys.” (40:38)
QUESTION: This is the concluding pasuk of Chumash Shemot. Torah is never ending. What parallel can be drawn between the closing and opening passages of Chumash Shemot?
ANSWER: “Day” represents the good times and happy periods in Jewish history. “Night” is an allusion to gloomy and difficult times that may, G‑d forbid, confront us. The Torah assures us that throughout all our journeys, regardless if things are shining for us or G‑d forbid the reverse, clouds of Hashem and heavenly fire protect us to guarantee our safety and survival.
Chumash Shemot begins with the journey of the Jewish people down to Egypt, which was one of the darker periods in our history. Knowing that Hashem’s watchful eye is with the Jewish people throughout “all their journeys” helped them survive the ordeal of slavery.
* * *
Another way to link the end and beginning of Chumash Shemot may be based on the following:
In the beginning of Chumash Shemot the Torah relates how the daughter of Pharaoh saved Moshe when he was placed in a box at the bank of the Nile river. On the Pasuk “vatishlach et amatah” — “she stretched out her arm” (2:5) — Rashi comments that Hashem miraculously elongated it and it was able to reach the box.
In the concluding parshah of Chumash Shemot we learn that when the Mishkan was completed, no one was able to erect it due to the weight of the boards. It was brought to Moshe and he, too, was puzzled. How could he possibly pick it up? Hashem told him, “Put your hand to it, and then it will stand up by itself” (Rashi 39:33).
The lesson which we are taught in the beginning and end of this Chumash is that when something has to be accomplished, we should not become disillusioned and frightened because it seems difficult or impossible. If we will make an honest effort to do our best, Hashem will bless us with success and the impossible will become reality.