Torah Weekly - Parshat Vayakhel
Moshe Rabbeinu exhorts Bnei Yisrael to keep Shabbat, and requests donations for the materials for the construction of the Mishkan (tent of meeting). He collects gold, silver, precious stones, animal skins and yarn, as well as incense and olive oil for the menorah and for anointing. The princes of each of the twelve tribes bring the precious stones for the kohen gadol's breastplate and ephod. Hashem appoints Betzalel and Oholiav as the master craftsmen for the building of the Mishkan and its vessels. Bnei Yisrael contribute so much that Moshe begins to refuse donations. Special curtains with two different covers were designed to serve as the material for the Mishkan's roof and door. Gold-covered boards set in silver bases were connected, forming the walls of the Mishkan. Betzalel made the aron hakodesh (holy ark), which contained the Tablets, from wood covered with gold inside and out. On the ark's cover were two small figures facing each other, with wings arching over the ark. The menorah candelabra and the shulchan, the table with the showbreads, were also made of gold. Two altars were made: A small incense altar made of wood overlaid with gold, and a larger altar for the purpose of sacrifices made of wood covered with copper.
"He made the Menorah... its cups, its knobs and its flowers..." (37:17)
When describing the menorah's decorations, the Torah never varies from the order "its cups, its knobs and its flowers." It never starts by talking about its flowers first. Why?
The human mind has three stages of development. In our youth, we spend most of our mental energy assimilating new information. The mind of a child starts off as an empty page. Until he can fill it with information, he cannot make intelligent assessments. His memory-banks must be full of information like a cup whose whole essence is to contain. The cups of the menorah represent this idea.
Then comes the second stage. A stage where we go inside ourselves. We use the power of the mind to detach itself from the outside world in order to process the information that we have gathered. To think. This is represented by the menorah's round knobs, symbolizing the mind separating itself from the outside to process what it has already imbibed. The word concentrate in English has this implication: We con-centrate -- we encircle ourselves in thought, with thought, and detach from the outer world.
However, this stage can only take place after we have amassed much information. As King Solomon says in Proverbs: "Go to the ant, lazy one!" Like an ant, first you have to gather information, only then can you extrapolate. This is the explanation of the saying in Ethics of the Fathers, "If there's no flour, there's no Torah:" If you don't possess a lot of information, the flour of knowledge, you will have very little to grind. And what you do grind will be of poor quality.
The last stage is when the mind "flowers." It produces its own ideas and novellae. Just as the flower is something new and unexpected that emerges from beneath the ground, so too a new idea seems to come from out of the blue. However, in reality, its "newness" can only result from the hidden processes in the "under-ground" of thought.
The menorah represents man's obligation to spread the light of supernal wisdom, the Torah, beyond himself. This can only be done in the proper order: The cup, the button, and then the flower.
- Vilna Gaon
- Rabbi Mordechai Dolinski
- Rabbi Noach Orloweck
Melachim II 12: 1-17
Jealousy, lust and pride: According to our Sages, all of our mistakes and sins can be categorized under these three headings.
This week we read Parshat Shekalim, the first of four special readings leading up to Pesach. These readings represent the spiritual cleansing that must take place in the heart of every Jew to become worthy of the exodus from Egypt. We must rid ourselves of jealousy, lust and pride before we can become worthy of the title "Am Kodosh" G-d's holy nation.
The parsha of shekalim contains the formulation for the correction of jealousy. The jealousy of Joseph's brothers led them to sell him for twenty silver pieces. The correction for this sin is contained in the designation of the half shekel given to the Temple.
Unlike the other donations to the Temple, regarding the half shekel the Torah commands us that "the rich man may not give more, nor the poor man less." Thus the total equality of every Jew is ensured and the possibility of jealousy is erased.
Rabbi Mordechai Miller explaining Pri Tzaddik
Selections from classical Torah sources
which express the special relationship between
the People of Israel and Eretz Yisrael
Whenever the Prophet Elisha passed through Shunem he enjoyed the hospitality of a "great lady" who not only provided him with meals but also built for him a special guest room where he could comfortably stay. He rewarded her kindness by blessing her to give birth to a child, and several years later Elisha brought that child back to life after his sudden death. (Melachim II 4:8-37)
An Arab village, Solem, marks the spot where all this took place, and the nearest Jewish settlement is the moshav shitufi (cooperative settlement) of Merchavia.
Written and Compiled by Rabbi Yaakov Asher Sinclair
General Editor: Rabbi Moshe Newman
Production Design: Michael Treblow
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