Thursday, February 20, 2014

Parasht Vayakhel

This week we are privileged to read the portion Vayakhel. The portion begins with the obligation to refrain from work on Shabbos, Although Jew were obligated to construct the Mishkan, they were not allowed to do any work for that purpose on Shabbos. This is actually from where we derive, the 39 forms of work (melochos), that are prohibited on Shabbos. The Torah goes on to tell us how all the artifacts for the Mishkon were made exactly as specified by Hashem to Moshe. The Torah tells us that the Jews brought gold, silver, copper and all other materials needed, so generously, that there had to be an announcement made, that people should stop.

The previous portion concluded with the fact that Klal Yisroel was unable to look at Moshe's, due to the rays of light that shined from Moshe's face. Some commentaries suggest that this is the connection of Vayakhel to the previous portion. The Medrash in Breishis explains the phrase we say in kiddushfriday night and in our prayers, Vayivorech Elokim es yom hashvi'i - and Hashem blessed the seventh day, with what ?, asks the medrash. The Medrash answers, that Hashem blessed those that keep shabbos with a lit up face (on Shabbos). Perhaps that is the connection between the two portions.

Much ink has been spilled over the reason why Moshe needed to gather all the Jews, and why he needed to re-discuss the mitzvah of Shabbos here. The Ohr Hachaim explains that due to the fact that his face had such a shine, the masses feared to look at him, he therefore needed to gather them in order to give over the message, and perhaps that is why he needed to tell them about Shabbos which if kept properly, brings a shine to everyone (as the medrash quoted above states - beircho bmaor ponim).

Moshe told the Jews (Shmos 35/2) "six days work shall be done and the seventh day shall be holy for you". What is the significance of six days work, why doesn't he just say that the seventh day should be holy ? The following anecdote will clarify: The Chofetz Chaim once came to a city, and he was told that a factory owned by a Jew, and also employed many Jews, was open and working on Shabbos. The Chofetz Chaim tried convincing te owner to close the factory on Shabbos, and the foolish man refused. He said my factory earns 25,000 Rubles a day, do you want me to lose that every week ? The Chofetz Chaim replied "and is it worth lose an entire factory for desecrating the Shabbos"? The Chofetz Chaim continued to explain: The Torah teaches us that six days work shall be done and on the seventh day you shall rest. If you want to have work six days, rest on the seventh. the factory owner responded arrogantly, "I don't run my factory by a posuk in chumash (phrase in the Torah)". The Chofetz Chaim left him with a broken heart. Shortly thereafter the Bolshoviks took over his factory and threw him out and he was left in poverty. This former factory owner came back to the Chofetz Chaim and confessed "I now see that a posuk chumash does run my factory." That is the connection to the contributions for the Mishkon. One should know by giving to the Mishkon he brings blessing upon himself, and will not lose anything.

There's a misconception by certain people that they will cut corners in charity and save money. If one cuts corners on luxuries and personal expenses, that might help, but when one thinks if he will cut corners against the Ratzon Hashem (the will of G-d), he will save money, he is deeply mistaking.

Let us never forget that Shabbos is the source of all blessing and sanctify Shabbos and the Mishkon.

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