shore.gif (51285 bytes)

Back to Parsha homepage

Archive of previous issues

Parshat Vayakhel-Pekudei

Pop Quiz: Which vessel in the Mishkan was made from one solid piece of gold?

by Rabbi Shmuel Choueka

"He made the washbasin of copper...from the mirrors of the legions" (Shemot 38:8)

The washbasin was made from the copper mirrors which the women donated to the Mishkan. Even though Moshe hesitated to use mirrors used to beautify women for something so sublime as the Mishkan, Hashem told him that this was very dear in His eyes. The women used to beautify themselves in order to restore the spirits of their downtrodden husbands in Egypt, and thus they were able to be fruitful and multiply. Hashem said that this is very precious to Him and should be used for the washbasin.

What connection is there between a washbasin and mirrors? Every time a kohen would do the service in the Mishkan, he had to purify himself by washing his hands and feet. When he saw the mirrors in the washbasin, he would undoubtedly look at his reflection in the mirror. This would allow him to purify his spiritual self by causing him to observe himself and remember which traits he would have to cleanse within himself. So the copper mirrors enabled the kohen not only to wash his hands and feet but also wash out any impurities of his character. This was especially important since he was about to serve the rest of the Jewish people and he might have been tempted to see negative traits in others. He was now reminded to rectify his own traits before judging others.

Whenever we leave the house we look at the mirror to see if we are presentable. We should learn this lesson and also look at our flaws in the "mirror" before going out into the world and seeing other people. This will put us in a better perspective to see only the good in others. Shabbat Shalom.

by Rabbi Reuven Semah

"The men came with the women; everyone whose heart motivated him" (Shemot 35:22)

This week sums up the book of Shemot with two portions, Vayakhel and Pekudei, both stressing the making of the various components of the Mishkan. When the Torah describes the role of the women in the donation process, it mentions that the men came together with the women. This implies that both husband and wife consented to the wife's donation. However, Rabbi Moshe Feinstein points out that the Targum has a different version. The men came with the women while they were wearing those pieces of jewelry that they were donating. R' Moshe explains that the women came while wearing them to show that this is jewelry that they were wearing currently. They didn't donate old gold jewelry that they didn't really wear anymore. These were pieces of jewelry that they loved and wore now. This showed the great love and enjoyment they had when they gave to the Mishkan.

There is a great lesson here. When doing a misvah, do it with your best. After all, you are trying to give honor to Hashem. Imagine you have some used clothing you would like to give away to the poor. Maybe we should consider giving our favorite suit! Don't just give away the garments you don't want anymore. If it's going to charity, which is a misvah, give the best! Shabbat Shalom.


"The Tabernacle of testimony" (Shemot 38:21)

Why is the Mishkan called "Mishkan Ha'edut" (Tabernacle of Testimony)?

From the time the Mishkan was built in the desert until the construction of the first Bet Hamikdash by King Solomon, there elapsed a period of 479 years. The word "Ha'edut" (,usgv) has the numerical equivalent of 479. This alludes to the fact that for 479 years the Mishkan served as a testimony to Hashem's dwelling among the Jewish people. (Vedibarta Bam)


"Six days work shall be performed" (Shemot 35:2)

This pasuk translated according to the vowel points under the word "te'aseh" is defined in the following manner: "Six days work shall be performed," thus the emphasis is on the work which is performed. This is in contrast to the vowel points being read as "ta'aseh" which would translate as "six days you should perform work." Rabbi Shlomo Ganzfield explains that only one who truly believes that his sustenance is from Hashem, and that the amount of work which he performs will not influence his livelihood, can rest peacefully on Shabbat. This is in contradistinction to one who feels that his livelihood is a result of his effort and toil. Such an individual senses that Shabbat curtails his opportunity for greater financial security. He cannot rest his mind because he is uncertain as to what opportunities for financial gain he is forfeiting. To him the Torah admonishes, "Six days work shall be performed." Do not think that it is you that performs the work - it is to be considered as if the work is performed by itself. And the fruits of this labor is Hashem's blessing. Only then will one properly fulfill "And on the seventh day shall be unto you a sanctuary: A Shabbat of Shabbats celebrated unto Hashem." (Peninim on the Torah)


"Whoever is of a willing heart, let him bring it, an offering of Hashem" (Shemot 35:5)

Rabbi Simcha Zissel of Kelm explained this verse that those who brought the offering for the Sanctuary should bring their hearts with their offering. It is not sufficient just to give a monetary donation. Hashem wants our hearts, that is, our thoughts and emotions. They too should be an expression of our generosity.

When you just give money to charity or to a worthy institution, you help the cause for which you are giving. But when you give your heart also, you are changing and elevating yourself as a person. Each donation makes you into a more giving person. Whenever you give, reflect for a while on what you are doing.

One evening, the executive of a well known yeshivah came to the home of Mr. R to request a donation on behalf of the yeshivah. Mr. R immediately interrupted what he was doing, warmly received his visitor, and responded generously to his request. The visitor wished Mr. R well and as he rose to leave he apologized for having intruded at an obviously busy time.

M. R told him, "You know, Rabbi Yitzchak Hutner calls me at times for donations for his yeshivah. Before I hang up, I always thank him for the call, and I once explained to him why he deserves my thanks. I am very organized in my sedakah. I set aside a certain share of my earnings and distribute it to worthy causes. My donation would be the same without a call, but I want my children to see that giving sedakah is not like paying the electric bill. I don't interrupt my dinner to pay bills, but I do when I get a call for sedakah. If the request is made in person, I ask my son to fetch my checkbook for me. So I say the same to you, thanks for coming by." (Growth Through Torah)

Answer to pop quiz: The Menorah.

Back to this week's parsha | Previous Issues

This article is provided as part of Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Permission is granted to redistribute electronically or on paper,
provided that this notice is included intact.
Jerusalem, Israel