"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 12:3). 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.

(פרח לבנון)

"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.

(מפניני התורה)

"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.

(עיטורי תורה)

"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.

(בית יעקב)

* * *

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.

(פרדס יוסף)

"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.

(פרדס יוסף)

"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.

(חידושי הרי"ם)

"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.

(פרדס יוסף)

"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.

(אבני אזל)

"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.

(משך חכמה)

"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.

(פרדס יוסף)

"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.

(אור החיים)

"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.

(כתב סופר)

"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.

(אור החיים)

"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.

(פרדס יוסף)

"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.

(אבן עזרא)

* * *

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.

(רבינו בחיי)