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   by Jacob Solomon

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The opening main theme is the private donations of materials for the Tabernacle, and its construction. It begins with an appeal to the Israelites to supply resources from their valuables. But Moses does not immediately launch into the 'business of the day'. Instead:

Moses assembled the Congregation of Israel and said… "This is what G-d has commanded. Six days shall you work. On the seventh day, it shall be a Sabbath… to G-d." (35:1-2)

From the Torah's putting together the Sabbath with the types of work involved in constructing the Tabernacle, the Talmud derives that the thirty-nine types of the Tabernacle's acts of labor are the ones that are forbidden on the Sabbath (Talmud Shabbat 97b).

However, there is a deeper connection between the laws of the Sabbath and the Tabernacle. The Torah states: 'Six days shall you work… but the seventh is the Sabbath' (20:9-10). From the sacred point of view, the building of Tabernacle and other spiritual activities have two potentials; spiritually productive, and spiritually destructive.

For the Tabernacle - and in today's situation the synagogue and the sponsoring of Sifrei Torah - are material means of getting close to G-d. So holy is a Sefer Torah that it may be not disposed of by any means other than burial. And participation in these mitzvoth requires investing money and other resources, as exemplified in these Parshiot. At best, a person so involved will feel that his resources have become part of connecting the Creator with 'His created' in a more intense and spiritual form; in the spirit of: 'They shall make a sanctuary for Me - so that I may dwell amongst them' (25:8).

But given human nature, the attitude of 'my power and the might of my hand got this wealth for me' (Deut. 7:17) can sneak in the form of 'holy smug self-satisfaction' - that the person himself has made it possible for all this to take place. Thus he feels that G-d resides on this planet through his efforts. That might give him the feeling that he is in a situation to fix his own terms with G-d, as he is 'doing his bit for Him'.

The Sabbath reminds us that this is not the case. That is the time we stop working. That is the day we have to let G-d to take over for the day. That emphasizes that our destiny - and even our interaction with our Creator is not just determined by the effort we make, including on His Behalf, but on the way we stand back and gently allow Him to enter our own lives…

For those looking for more comprehensive material, questions and answers on the Parasha may be found at and on the material on the Haftara at .

Written by Jacob Solomon. Tel 02 673 7998. E-mail: for any points you wish to raise and/or to join those that receive this Parasha sheet every week.

Parashiot from the First, Second, and Third Series may be viewed on the Shema Yisrael web-site:

Also by Jacob Solomon:
From the Prophets on the Haftara

Test Yourself - Questions and Answers


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