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Parshat Va-Yakhel


Moses gathers "the whole Israelite community"--just forgiven by G-d for the sin of the golden calf--to reaffirm their holy obligations. Or, to put it in more modern lingo, Moses tells the Israelites what time it is!

'On six days work may be done, but on the seventh day you shall have a sabbath of complete rest, holy to the Lord; whoever does any work on it shall be put to death. You shall kindle no fire throughout your settlements on the sabbath day.'"

Moses reiterates the gifts that each person--"everyone whose heart so moves him"--must bring forth for the construction and decoration of the Tabernacle, and the Tent of Meeting, and for the making of the Kohanim's vestments.

Bringing "...brooches, earrings, rings, and pendants-gold objects of all kinds" and "...blue, purple, and crimson yarns, fine linen, goats' hair, tanned ram skins, and dolphin skins..." the people contribute all that is needed; and those with unique talents set to work.

"And all the skilled women spun with their own hands, and brought what they had spun..." (Knitting-obsessed, Shabbat Mom imagines she would have been on Team Spin.)

Bezalel son of Uri "endowed...with a divine spirit of skill, ability, and knowledge in every kind of craft" works his magic "...in gold, silver, and copper...and (gives) directions..." ; Oholiab, son of Ahisamach, serves as Bezalel's Number Two.

"They took over from Moses all the gifts that the Israelites had brought" but these "freewill offerings" never seem to end, ultimately becoming an embarrassment of riches: "'Let no man or woman make further effort toward gifts for the sanctuary!'" Moses proclaims.

Bezalel fashions the holy ark "of acacia wood" and "(overlays) it with pure gold, inside and out; and he made a gold molding for it round about...He made a cover of pure gold...two cherubim of gold; he made them of hammered work, at the two ends of the cover...the cherubim had their wings spread out above, shielding the cover with their wings...".

The exquisite detailed descriptions of the ark (see photo above) are followed by even more gorgeous word illustrations of "the lamp stand of pure gold" whose "three cups (are) shaped like almond-blossoms, each with calyx and petals..." and continue on with the copper washing cup ("the laver") and the copper stand that would be used by the Kohanim, made from "the mirrors of the women who performed tasks at the entrance of the Tent of Meeting".

In other words, G-d is in the details!

Shabbat Shalom!