April 17, 2024
Parashat Vayakhel 5784

When you Choose Shabbat, you choose to learn that every Shabbat is different and special. This week I learned about Parashat Vayakhel (וַיַּקְהֵל‎), the 22nd weekly Torah portion in the annual cycle of Torah readings.

According to Wikipedia, Vayakhel (וַיַּקְהֵל‎), Exodus 35:1 through 38:20, contains 6,181 Hebrew letters, 1,558 words, 122 verses and makes up 211 lines of the Torah scroll.

Vayakhel (translated as “He Assembled”) opens as G-d commands the Israelites to observe the Sabbath. Moses asks for material donations for the building of the Mishkan (Tabernacle) and the people donate. A group of artisans designated by G-d begin to build the Mishkan and its vessels.

Rabbi Michael D Klein of Temple Torat Emet offers his insights on this week’s Torah reading, Vayakhel for Shabbat, March 9, 2024 aka 29 Adar 5784:

“This year, we have an interesting juxtaposition of the weekly Sedra, Vayakhel, which means “to assemble” with Shabbat Mevarchim – the blessing for the month of Adar II that includes Purim, and Shabbat Shekalim which commemorates the census that was accomplished by collecting a half shekel from each member of Adat Yisroel.

It appears that the message that is common to all three of these events is the necessity of gathering of all the people to celebrate together. In the case of Vayakhel, we are gathering to celebrate and appreciate all the hard work which was performed to create the Mishkan and the Tent of Meeting. In the case of welcoming the coming month of Adar, we are celebrating our triumph in ancient Persia over the evil of Haman and the courage of Mordecai and Esther. The message of Shabbat Shekalim is inclusion and contribution.

So many times, I hear Jewish people use an excuse to not belong to a Synagogue that they feel like outsiders because they do not read Hebrew or they are not particularly observant. My response to these people is that those who give also receive! People are welcomed and recognized by their willingness to grow, to share, to learn and to contribute. We are a community. We thrive and prosper from the good deeds that we do for each other. This and every Shabbat celebrates all the contributions and hard work that people in our community do to make our spiritual home a warm and welcoming place to commune and worship together. We share our hardships and our triumphs together. This is the real meaning of community and it is also the real meaning of this Shabbat when we share the beauty and appreciation of all who, like our ancestors contribute their time, effort, and resources to the betterment of all.

Questions for Consideration:

  1. Why does the Torah only require a half shekel from each person?
  2. Why was acacia wood chosen for many of the items in the Tabernacle? (Hint: think of the Hebrew word!)
  3. How many different types of work were prohibited on Shabbat?
  4. Why else was the month of Adar significant before the events of Purim?”

Rabbi Michael D. Klein

Rabbi Michael D. Klein attended Yeshiva College of South Florida and served as Torah Reader, Hebrew teacher, Chazzan and spiritual leader of various synagogues throughout South Florida. In January 2015 he became Ritual Director, Bnai/Bnot Mitzvah instructor and 7th grade Hebrew instructor for Temple Torat Emet of Boynton Beach. In October 2019 he was accepted into an accelerated track and received his shicha from Yeshiva Adath Wolkowisk and has been the Rabbinic leadership of Temple Torat Emet since August 2020. In September of 2022 he was appointed Rabbinic and Spiritual Advisor of the Florida Region of FJMC.

Choose Shabbat; choose to celebrate, to light candles, sing songs and learn a little Torah.

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