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  • Writer's pictureRabbi Skorka

Vayakhel - The construction of the Sanctuary

In this parashah, the role of the people of Israel in the construction of the Sanctuary is described. Although there was an overall director, Betzalel ben Uri, who had the assistance of Aholiav ben Ahisamac, both men and women actively participated in its construction. All those who had the ability to perform the necessary tasks, along with the spiritual sensitivity that was required, played a role in the realization of the Sanctuary.

Unlike the building of the golden calf, which while fashioned from the gold contributed by many people was nevertheless only the work of a single person, Aaron, the construction of the Tabernacle was a communal work. Maimonides uses this insight when he stipulates in Mishneh Torah (Hilchot Beit HaBehirah 1:12) that the directions for the construction of the Temple of Jerusalem require that everyone be involved through their personal and monetary help.

One of the differences between pagan and biblical worship is that former is restricted to individuals or elites, while the latter incorporates the entire society without gender or class distinctions.

On this Shabbat the month of Adar II is blessed. For this reason, a reading is added to the weekly parashah: the reading of the command to record the Children of Israel by means of a coin that each person must contribute. Everyone has to give the same amount, which was used for the upkeep of the Temple.

These elements of the parashah impart the message that the Jewish people, and indeed the whole of humanity, will only know redemption through everyone’s contribution to a reality in which no one is excluded.

Shabbat shalom!


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