Points to Ponder

Vayakhel 5776

6 days work shall be done (35:2) – In Yisro there is mention of both Melacha and Avoda. Here there is only mention of melacha – no Avoda. Why? Rav Soloveitchik ztl. explained that Avoda and Melacha are different. Avoda refers to work – Adam L’amal Yulad. Melacha refers to Mileches Machasheves – planned work. The Torah does not forbid Avodah work – only constructive work . Technically, the Torah only forbade Melacha and thus, by the mishkan where the  melacha is constructive in purpose by definition, the Torah cannot mention the Avodah part.

And the seventh day is kodesh (35:2) – Rav Belsky ztl. noted that Shabbos is mentioned twice in connection to the building of the Mishkan. In Parshas Ki Sisa it follows all of the commands to build the Mishkan while in Vayakhel it precedes all of the completion of the work. Why the change? Rav Belsky ztl. explained that both Shabbos and the Mishkan represent means through which  a person can achieve Deveikus with Hashem. Shabbos represents the contemplation through abstention of worldly activity while Mishkan represents the power of doing. There is no aspect of human life that cannot be elevated through some form of Avodas Hashem.

And all the wise in the heart from among you shall come and perform all that Hashem commanded (35:10) – Many meforshim point out that this is the source for the idea that mitzvos need to be performed and cannot merely be contemplated in order for one to fulfill the will of Hashem. The Tzaddik Rav Shimon Mirsolov ztl. explained that the ultimate of Chochma is the reality that one shouldn’t be too much of a Chocham beyond that which Asher Tziva Hashem.


And the Nesiim brought the stones (35:27) – Rashi cites the Midrash that notes that the Nesiim were derelict in their donation until it was too late. Rav Moshe Tzvi  Neriah ztl. noted that it was not laziness per se that caused them to delay. Rather, they misjudged their people’s interest and zeal in donation. They underestimated the excitement of the people in the project! A leader who underestimates his people is not able to lead them.

Behold Hashem called in the name of Betzalel  (35: 30-35) – The Midrash comments that Moshe was most impressed that Betzalel was in the shade of Hashem in that Hashem commanded the creation of the Aron before he commanded the Mishkan but Betzalel logically deduced that the Mishkan needed to be made first in order to have a place for  the Aron. Rav Pinchas Teitz ztl (HaMaor 5721) noted that Betzalel merely demonstrated logic – why does this demonstrate that he was in the shade of Hashem? Rav Teitz ztl. answered that the Jews at the time were living in a status of Nissim V’Niflaos and one might assume that the same could be for the building of the Aron and then the mishkan thereafter. This was the Chiddush of Betzalel – when it comes to strengthening Torah we are not allowed to rely on Nissim and must reach out with strong, united Kochos to build and strengthen Torah.

And to think thoughts (35:32) – What is the Chiddush in Betzalel’s ability to think thoughts?  Rav Schlessinger Shlita quoted Rav Chaim of Volohzin ztl. who once explained to a certain donor upset with the thought that he was paying the horse bills of the meshulach department that this was the intention of “Lachashov Machashavos – to determine where each dollar donated would be most best used for the intention of the donor who donated it.  Rav Schlessinger added that the same is true of the Shomer Shabbos – Sicharo Harbeh Miyod Al Pi Falao – based on the work and the intention comes the reward.

Betzalel made the Aron (37:1) – When it came to the Klei HaMikdash, the furniture of the Mikdash, there is still a mitzvah to have them even if they are not functional. Rav Hershel Schachter Shlita asked why did they not make the Aron in the Bayis Sheni as one of the Kli HaMikdash? Rav Schachter quoted Rav Soloveitchik ztl. who noted that the Aron is not a Klei HaMikdash. It is a means for the Kavod first of the Luchos and then later for the Sefer Torah. Without Luchos and a Sefer Torah then there is no need for an Aron without Luchos. The Aron needs luchos to be a Bris. A Shul needs mispallelim and a Yeshiva needs people to learn or they are useless.


Haftorah: And the people who were giving the monies shall not be accused since they were doing their work in good faith (Melachim II: 12:16) – When it came to Moshe, Moshe provided a detailed accounting of the Mishkan. Why? Rav Yaakov Kamenetzsky ztl explained that Moshe was not appointed by the people, he was placed upon them by Hashem. In an effort to remove any degree of suspicion by the people on him, Moshe chose to account for every penny used. However, in general, when communal projects are undertaken in honesty, those undertaking it are to be granted a Chezkas Kashrus.