Vayakhel 5771 – Gilayon #691

Shabbat Shalom The weekly parsha commentary

(link to original page)

Click here to
receive the weekly parsha by email each week.

Parshat Vayakhel

And the men came with the women, everyone of willing


they brought brooch and nose-ring and signet-ring

And necklace, every kind of gold object

(Shemot 35:22)


The reason for 'and the men came

with the women' is that the contribution of ornaments is more common amongst

the women, they all possessed them, and they removed their nose-rings and rings

immediately, and came first, and the men who were with them brought [their

donations] along with them, because the women came first, and the men who were

among them brought together with them, because the women were there first and

the men attached themselves to them, and similar to this is "And Aram had

allied itself with Ephraim" (Yeshaayahyu 7:2) because that war was Ephraim's, and

"which he did not put with Laban's flocks" (Bereishit 30:40), "and

with it the tribe of Ephraim" (Bemidbar 2:20) ,

and similar cases, and it says that all, men and women , with brooch and

nose-ring and signet-ring and necklace, every kind of gold object such as

bracelets and ear-rings, because everyone had articles of jewelry and he said

that some of them raised up offerings of broken gold or coins.

(Ramban Shemot



With the women etc. – The

reason they came with them was because the men were embarrassed to bring their

contributions because only several days earlier they gave much gold for the

calf and they feared lest their donation not be received favorably, therefore

they mixed their contribution together with that of the women who had

contributed nothing to the calf, as explained by our rabbis of blessed memory,

so that their contribution would be accepted together with that of the women.

(Rabbi David Pardo (18th cent.), Maskil L'David, ibid., ibid.)


"And their faces toward each other,

Toward the cover were the faces of the cherubim"*

(Shemot 37:9)



Images which

man creates have their source close to home. Having to express emotions, or abstract

ideas, or perhaps feelings towards a subject – and the words are missing from

his mouth – he borrows from his familiar world in order to explain the unknown.

Thus is a creation constructed in all its dimensions, and so the spirit of man

is afforded new spaces in which to travel – words covered by a mantle of might.


relationships to God, composed of awe and closeness, of fear and love, of

intimacy and total ignorance, are transmitted in the Jewish dialogue through

verbal similes and practical symbols. The ban on expressing the image of God in

his physical form, "He has no semblance – He is bodiless" led to

practical expression of feelings toward Him as a substitute for occupation with

his essence. The pair of cherubim growing out of the external covering of the

pair of tablets of the covenant expresses the intimate connection between Israel

and He who gave them the Torah. "Like a man embracing his consort" (Yoma 54b), that is

to say, like a man embraced by his beloved.

This image of

the lover-beloved relationship is found on different levels in Biblical texts.

The intimacy of modest relations inside the home, in the holy of holies,

covered with sealskins** during the tabernacle's disassembly and wanderings,

but "All know why the bride has entered the bridal canopy."

This image

multi-faceted – love – the most noble of emotions, can easily turn into the

most vulgar frivolity… refined behavior becomes coarse… caress turns into

cruelty, love into self-centered demand… love of God turns into idol worship…

sacred into profane. The opposite of closeness – hatred.

The lover-beloved, man-God set is not neutral. It involves the entire soul, and

leads man to externalize the depths of his soul, for good and for bad. The most

powerful emotional experiences are played out on the pitch of these relationships.

How are they

positioned? Rabbi Yochanan and Rabbi Elazar answer: One says, each faces his brother and the

other says they face inward. And according to the one who says 'each facing his

brother', is it not written "facing inward"! There is no

contradiction – here it speaks of when Israel

does the will of the Omnipresent, here where Israel does not do the will of the

Omnipresent. And according to the one who says that they faced the chamber, is

it not written "each facing his brother" (Bava Batra 99b).

Here [it

speaks of ] when Israel does the will of the Omnipresent – they face each other,

as exemplified by the love of male and female who love each other. A sign that

the Holy One loves Israel, and at the beginning they were created face to face

so that the Holy Presence rests upon Israel and Israel will do the will of the Omnipresent,

and when they fail to do so, by miraculous means, their faces turned inward"

(Rashbam, ibid.)1

Man's relationships

to himself are balanced by his marital relationships, "And the Lord

created man in His image" (Bereishit 1:27) "Bone of my bone and flesh of my

flesh – this shall be called woman" (Bereishit2:23).

Direct extension to myself, my image, my spouse. The privacy

of relations with God built an inner world, hidden from all and recognized by

its scope, only within the soul. God's lack of physicality transfers the relationships

to spiritual planes as it constructs a kind of completion to man's spiritual

portion, a completion best symbolized by the soul's unification with the

partner, a sort of area shared and unseen but very tangible.

In the image

of the Lord He created him, male and female he created them (ibid) The "couple-ness"

symbolized by the cherubim, "and these two cherubim which I have shown

you, that the one secret can be seen only through two" (Ibn Ezra short version. Shemot 25:20) is the foundation for deep

experiences. From the traits of the single God who reveals himself to the eyes

of man as two, as material and form, through the electron in which the secret

of one is revealed only through two, through the partnership in which is

revealed the secret of the singles, in their embrace…this is the source of

their strength. Male and female, each partner in the couple standing by

himself, with his different attributes, his unique nature and viewpoint and

reaching full expression through the partnership, through the mutual

supplementing of attributes. Israel

cannot do without the Holy One, and the Holy One cannot do without His people.

He lacks her and she is missing him. Sometimes He is the male and she is the

woman and sometimes He is the beloved female and they are the beloved male. There

is deep equality between the two parts which supplement each other, who yearn

for each other…'the voice of my beloved approaches'. His life is incomplete

without her, and his secret cannot be seen in the chill of his loneliness and

from where shall she come and who will come to her.

No other image

has the power to examine our relation to our God, the love, the closeness, the

intimacy, the merging into one, as against the controversy, contention, hatred,

alienation, the following other gods. " . .saying

as follows: If a man divorces his wife and she leaves him and marries another

man, can he ever go back to her? Would not such a land be defiled? Now you have

whored with many lovers; can you return to Me? – says

the Lord." (Yirmiyahu


Our closeness

to our God is intimate, hidden. It essence is a quiet soft voice. In delicate personal relationships. Who can know its secrets?

Despite their audacity, our words with Him cannot be heard by the human ear. A

fluttering heart, closed eyes. Our head leans back. A

whisper. We encompass Him in our hearts and he encompasses us inside

him. The Omnipresent. His glory, his majesty, his

beauty, his honor are all within.

In the silence

of our internal conversation, that fusion which will spread over us His Tent of

Testimony will be built. Our unseen relationship

with He-who-has-no-image, transfers the center of our

life's equilibrium to its positive value and cloaks our activity in splendor.

The moral standard of the human act is a result of the heavenly mantle attached

to its navel, and in the future it becomes its essence. They cannot ever

separate, bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh.

"And it

is written: On the day that Moshe completed erecting the tabernacle", as

soon as the tabernacle was completed, immediately His Presence descended into

it, as is written "And Moshe was unable to enter the Tent of Assembly, because

            the cloud has rested upon him,

and the glory of God filled the Tabernacle", and it is written "For

the cloud of God was upon the tabernacle", thus realizing the        statement "His help is very near

close to those who fear Him to make His glory dwell in our land." Said the

Holy One: In this world my presence was among you and visible to your eyes, as

is said: "Now the Presence of the Lord etc," and in the future the

Holy Presence shall never leave you, as is said (Kings I 7) "And I will

abide among the children of Israel, and I will never forsake My people Israel.

Blessed is the Lord forever, Amen Selah." (Midrash Tanhuma, Pekudei 11)


article appeared in the Vayakhel-Pekudey issue in

5759, but inasmuch as its vigor remains undiminished, we repeat it here.


suggested identifications for ohr takhash include dolphin skins, giraffe skins,

tanned-leather skins, and ocher-dyed skins.

1More on this subject: "But Jehosheba,

daughter of King Yoram and sister of Ahaziah, secretly gook Ahaziah's

son Joash away from among the princes who were being

slain, and put him and his nurses in a bedroom. And they kept him hidden from Athaliah so that he was not put to death. (Kings II, 11:2)


loc. sit: In the bedroom – in the upper chamber of the Holy of Holies,

as is written (ibid, ibid, v.3) "He stayed with her for six years, hidden

in the House of the Lord etc." With reference to him did David

say (Psalm 27:5) "He will shelter me in His pavilion on an evil day, grant

me the protection of His tent" and he refers to it as the bedroom, based

upon (Song of Songs 1:13): "He lies between by breasts". (Thanks to Yosef Pnini for this reference.)

Chaim Rubinstein

is an educator.




Justice, and Peace Are Essential for the Dwelling of the Shekhina

 "Moshe then convoked the whole Israelite

community" – Rashi explains: On the morrow

of the Day of Atonement. And in Parashat Yitro it is written: "And on the morrow, Moshe sat to

judge the people" and there Rashi

explained that it was on the morrow of the Day of Atonement.

It seems to me that it was known

that the purpose of this convocation was to inform them of the mitzvoth of the Mishkan and of contribution, as will be explained shortly,

and Moshe feared lest someone contribute to the Mishkan

something which was not his but which he thought [incorrectly] was legally

his; it is inconceivable that this great and holy edifice be constructed from

stolen materials, that the place of justice be the place of iniquity, so

therefore Moshe first announced: Whoever has a dispute, let him appear before

me for adjudication, in order that everything be peacefully settled, and

everyone should know what is his, and what is not – and only then he informed

them of the matter of donation, saying "Take from among you gifts to

the Lord" — "from you" i.e., yours and not that

of your neighbor.

By way of

intimation, we can say that this convocation was intended to mediate and bring

peace between them, for a person does not dwell with a snake in close

proximity; because he wanted to inform them of the Mishkan project – in which

all will be partners, as though gathered into a single compartment, therefore

it was necessary to first convoke them, that they be one brotherhood.

(Kli Yakar, Shemot 35:1)


You Shall Not Light Fire… in

All Your Settlements on the Shabbat Day

On the one

hand, kindling fire in itself is not a productive, creative, but primarily,

rather a destructive activity. But on the other hand, the ability to produce

fire artificially is just that which first gave Man his true mastery over the

materials of the world. Only by means of fire can he create his tools, can

analytically and synthetically probe into the inner nature of things. We can

accordingly understand why it is mentioned separately by itself as the classic

example for all the other major work categories.

(Rabbi S. R. Hirsch, Shemot 35:3)


The Secret of

Tsimtsum* Facilitates the Presence of the Omnipresent


Betzalel made the ark: Why did the Torah expressly describe Betzalel's personal construction of the ark? Because he

placed the shadow of the Holy One Blessed Be He ,

there He diminished His Holy Presence. Therefore was he named Betzalel ["In the shadow of God"] because he made

the shadow of the Holy One between the two cherubim, as is written: "There

will I meet you and I will impart to you etc." (Shemot

25:20). But is it not written: "For

I fill both heaven and earth"? (Yirmiyahu 23:24). Explained Rabbi Yehoshua

of Sachnin in the name of Rabbi Levi: An allegory – a

cave on the seashore, the sea rages, the cave is filled

with water, yet the sea is not diminished. So the Holy One, His Memory Be

Blessed, even though it is written "And the glory of God filled the

tabernacle (Shemot 40:34), despite this, "His

glory is over the earth and the heavens" (Psalms 145:13) do not say that the Holy One diminished his presence into the

tabernacle, but even within the ark that Betzalel

made He diminished his presence, as is written: "The Ark of the Covenant,

sovereign of all the earth". (Yehoshua 3:11), this the Holy One

who was inside it. And who made it? Betzalel, as is

written: "And Betzalel made".

 (Midrash Tanhuma:

Vayakhel 7)


*Jewish mystical tradition solves

the problem of how – if God is everywhere – can there be room for the world by

positing that God reduced himself (tsimtsum)

to make room for his creations.


Rabbi Menahem

Mendel of Kotzk was wont to say: The Holy One is

found wherever we allow him to enter."


Midrashei tsafon – from

the pen of Ronen Ahituv

You are not

to let fire burn throughout your settlements on the Sabbath day (24:3)

In the settlements you may not let fire burn,

but you may let fire burn in the Temple.

Why is fire different, that it should be permitted in the Temple? Because fire is similar to the Temple, and fire is

similar to the Sabbath, yet it is not similar. Just as fire provides light to

man, so the Sabbath lights up the day of man, and similarly the Temple gives Israel light. Just as fire, when a

man touches it, he is burned, so Shabbat, if one does work on it, he dies

immediately, as is written: "Anyone who does work on it shall die",

so the Temple, one who enters it dies immediately, as is written "An

outsider who comes near is to be put to death" (Bemidbar 3:38)

And it is not similar to the Temple

and the Sabbath, because the former is secular whereas the Temple and the Sabbath are holy. Said the

Torah, there may be no secular light on the Sabbath, but the Sabbath is your



The book Drishat Shalom is available for purchase in



book is published in memory of our member, Gerald Cromer z"l,

and edited by Tzvi Mazeh

and Pinchas Leiser. It

contains articles based on divrei Torah

which first appeared in the pages of Shabbat Shalom, and it deals with

the encounter between the values of peace and justice drawn from Jewish sources

and the complicated reality of a sovereign Jewish state in the Land of Israel. Publication of Drishat Shalom was supported by the Gerald

Cromer Memorial Fund, the 12th of Heshvan Forum, Oz VeShalom,

a Dutch peace fund, and many friends.


To all our readers and supporters


need your support in order that the voice of a religious Zionism

committed to peace and justice

will continue to be heard through the

uninterrupted distribution of



in hundreds of synagogues, on the Internet and via


in both Hebrew and English.


send your checks made out to "Oz VeShalom"




VeShalom-Netivot Shalom


4433 Jerusalem




specify on the back of the check that the contribution is for the funding of Shabbat



further details (including the possibility of dedicating an issue, tax

deductible status, etc.) please contact Miriam Fine

by email

or by phone: at 0523920206.





Editorial Board of Shabbat Shalom


VeShalomNetivot Shalom



contributions to either the NIF or PEF should be marked as donor-advised to Oz ve'Shalom, the Shabbat Shalom project. For Donations

to NIF, please mention that Oz veShalom is registered

as no. 5708.


If you wish to subscribe to the

email English editions of Shabbat Shalom, to print copies of it for

distribution in your synagogue, to inquire regarding the dedication of an

edition in someone's honor or memory, to find out how to make tax-exempt

donations, or to suggest additional helpful ideas, please call +972-52-3920206

or at

If you enjoy Shabbat Shalom,

please consider contributing towards its publication and distribution.

  • Hebrew edition distributed in Israel


  • English edition distributed via email $ 100

Issues may be dedicated in honor

of an event, person, simcha, etc. Requests must be

made 3-4 weeks in advance to appear in the Hebrew, 10 days in advance to appear

in the English email.




Oz Veshalom-Netivot

Shalom is a movement dedicated to the advancement of a civil society in Israel.

It is committed to promoting the ideals of tolerance, pluralism, and justice,

concepts that have always been central to Jewish tradition and law.

Oz Veshalom-Netivot

Shalom shares a deep attachment to the land of Israel

and it no less views peace as a central religious value. It believes that Jews

have both the religious and the national obligation to support the pursuit of

peace. It maintains that Jewish law clearly requires us to create a fair and

just society, and that co-existence between Jews and Arabs is not an option but

an imperative.

4,500 copies of a 4-page peace oriented commentary

on the weekly Torah reading are written and published by Oz VeShalom/Netivot

Shalom and they are distributed to over 350 synagogues in Israel and are

sent overseas via email. Our web site is

Shabbat Shalom is available on

our website: