Torah.org Home Subscribe Services Support Us
 
Print Version

Email this article to a friend

Vayakhel

Shabbos Kodesh

Moshe gathered together - vayakhel - all of the Jewish people in front of the Holy Ark. Midrash teaches us that somehow all of the Jewish people, millions in number, all were able to gather together in front of the Holy Ark. Not only in front of the Holy Ark, but also between its staves! This statement of the Midrash, like all words of Torah, contains many levels of interpretation and understanding. But to me it seems clear that the Midrash tells us that all of Israel, with all of the differences that are inherent in such a large and diverse group of individuals, can be united into a decent and caring society if they all find themselves within the staves of the Holy Ark - the wide parameters of tradition, halacha and Jewish values. Here in Israel, we are busily engaged in trying to form a coalition government to govern us in times of problems and distress. In democratic societies, there has to be some sort of national consensus in order to govern properly. That national consensus of the Jewish people has always been found within the staves of the Holy Ark. Removing sections of Jewry from that space only brings divisiveness, hatred and ultimately, estrangement from Judaism and Jewish values themselves.

It should be noted that the message that Moshe delivered to Israel at that moment of gathering and convocation concerned itself with the Sabbath. The cornerstone of Jewish life and unity is the Sabbath. When the Torah stated:" Its (the Sabbath's) desecrators will surely die," it meant not only a legal declaration of punishment for violating the Sabbath. It also meant that this was to be read as a prediction, a prophecy, and a statement regarding the harsh reality of the Jewish world. A Jewish society that ignores the Sabbath, that trims it to meet its fleeting whims, that robs it of its spirit and holiness, of its inhibitions and joys, dooms itself to assimilation and spiritual death. No slogans about Jewish continuity or unity can accomplish the good that the respect and observance of one Sabbath day can achieve. When Moshe gathered all of Israel together at the Holy Ark, he purposely told them of the Sabbath, for the Sabbath alone guarantees Jewish unity, Jewish survival and spiritual triumph. Observance of the intricate laws of the Sabbath on an individual basis has always been a continuum and not an absolute. But in all of Jewish history, respect and love for the Sabbath day itself was an omnipresent absolute. It is this respect and love for the Sabbath that is in such dire peril in today's Jewish society. One does not increase respect and love for the Sabbath by adjusting its holy character and time-honored traditions to current conveniences and fads.

The parsha of Vayakhel reviews the materials needed and the workmanship and effort provided for the construction of the mishkan - the Holy Tabernacle - in the desert of Sinai. However, without the unity of Israel - the gathering of Jews within the confines of the staves of the Holy Ark - and without the sense of holy purpose and noble tradition that only the Sabbath can provide, the mishkan will eventually be nothing more than a physical building filled with ornate artifacts. Its very purpose of challenging and uplifting existence will have been denied. Our generation needs to remember these lessons of Jewish unity within the staves of the Holy Ark and of the holiness of the Sabbath day. Then our mishkan - the sanctuary within our souls and within all of Jewish society - will yet flourish and inspire us.

Shabat Shalom.
Rabbi Berel Wein


Text Copyright © 2002 Rabbi Berel Wein and Project Genesis, Inc.



 






ARTICLES ON DEVARIM AND THE THREE WEEKS:

View Complete List

Parshas Devarim - Eichah?
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5758

Fear Itself
Rabbi Mordechai Kamenetzky - 5758

Taking Stock
Rabbi Dovid Green - 5757

ArtScroll

Body Language
Rabbi Yochanan Zweig - 5771

Harsh Hugs
Rabbi Berel Wein - 5765

Body Language
Rabbi Yochanan Zweig - 5770

Frumster - Orthodox Jewish Dating

The Laws of Kashrus: Is it techinical or something deeper?
Rabbi Pinchas Winston - 5773

Self-Fulfilling Prophecy
Rabbi Yochanan Zweig - 5773

In a Month We Call -“Av”
Rabbi Label Lam - 5765

> Honesty
Rabbi Berel Wein - 5761

That's Not What Friends Are For
Rabbi Yochanan Zweig - 5772

Words, Words, and More Words
Rabbi Aron Tendler - 5765

Looking for a Chavrusah?

Who will Remember?
Rabbi Yaakov Menken - 5761

All Israel
Rabbi Label Lam - 5770

They Can Assure a Cure
Rabbi Label Lam - 5773

Golden Opportunities
Rabbi Naftali Reich - 5773



Project Genesis

Torah.org Home


Torah Portion

Jewish Law

Ethics

Texts

Learn the Basics

Seasons

Features

TORAHAUDIO

Ask The Rabbi

Knowledge Base




Help

About Us

Contact Us



Free Book on Geulah!




Torah.org Home
Torah.org HomeCapalon.com Copyright Information