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   by Jacob Solomon

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After the sin of the golden calf and Moses' smashing the two tablets of stone,

Moses assembledů the Israelites and said to them: 'Work may be done for six days, but the seventh day shall be holy. You may not kindle a fire in any of your dwellings, on the Sabbath day'. (35:1-3)

This is immediately followed by Moses putting the Israelites to work - on an extended project:

Bring voluntary contributions to G-d's service (for the construction of the Tabernacle) (35:5).

In which men and women enthusiastically took part - together. To such a degree that Moses had to tell them to bring no more:

The skilled craftsmen told Moses that the people were contributing more than enough than was needed for the building of the tabernacles. Moses passed the word that no man or woman should bring anything else (36:5-6).

That is followed with details of the construction of the Tabernacle which, combined with those in the previous parashiot, form the bulk of the content of the second half of the Book of Exodus. The length and detail may be there to teach us a very important principle in community life. As long as people are working together on purposeful projects and feel that the final product enhances their sense of destiny, they do not quarrel or create factions. Indeed, such projects should be a continuing feature of communal life. Yes: the Israelites did give plenty of trouble to Moses, Aaron, and each other. But not when they were constructing the Tabernacle. They were just too busy!

This throws light on tradition quoted by Rashi on what took place the moment the Tabernacle was completed:

Moses and Aaron came out of the Tent of Meeting (the holier part of the Tabernacle) and they blessed the people. (Lev. 9:23). Rashi adds that the words of the blessing were: "May the pleasantness of G-d rest on us and on our work". These are indeed the words of Moses' Prayer as recorded in the Book of Psalms" (Psalms 90:17).

The work had been completed for a Higher Purpose - strengthening the link between the Israelites and the Creator. The work had been created in the right spirit - together, without factions, without fractions. Thus the construction of the Tabernacle did not only strength the relationship between the Israelites and G-d, but between tribe and tribe, between Israelite and Israelite.

"May the pleasantness of G-d rest on us" means on us being an increasingly functional community. "And on our work", that the 'product' might indeed serve its positive function, in this case strengthening the link between G-d and Mankind.

This also helps to explain the link with the Sabbath and the Tabernacle, in the verses quoted. It is the hard work of the six days - all together, that creates an atmosphere for rest on the seventh - all together. Without the contrast of the first, the second cannot so readily be enjoyed.

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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