Parasha Inspiration – Vayakhel

וַיַּקְהֵ֣ל משֶׁ֗ה אֶת־כָּל־עֲדַ֛ת בְּנֵ֥י יִשְׂרָאֵ֖ל וַיֹּ֣אמֶר אֲלֵהֶ֑ם אֵ֚לֶּה הַדְּבָרִ֔ים אֲשֶׁר־צִוָּ֥ה יְהֹוָ֖ה לַֽעֲשׂ֥ת אֹתָֽם: וַיַּקְהֵ֣ל משֶׁ֗ה אֶת־כָּל־עֲדַ֛ת בְּנֵ֥י יִשְׂרָאֵ֖ל וַיֹּ֣אמֶר אֲלֵהֶ֑ם אֵ֚לֶּה הַדְּבָרִ֔ים אֲשֶׁר־צִוָּ֥ה יְהֹוָ֖ה לַֽעֲשׂ֥ת אֹתָֽם:

Moses called the whole community of the children of Israel to assemble, and he said to them: “These are the things that the Lord commanded to make. Six days work may be done, but on the seventh day you shall have sanctity, a day of complete rest to the Lord; whoever performs work thereon [on this day] shall be put to death.

Exodus 35:1-2

In this week’s Torah portion, Moses tells the Children of Israel more details about the construction of the Mishkan. The initial step in the building of the Mishkan that Moshe relates is very telling. What is this initial instruction? The children of Israel are instructed not do any work of the construction of the Mishkan on Shabbat.

This is very important to understand. The holiest task that the children of Israel are commanded to do is, in fact, not to be done on Shabbat. This command guides the Children of Israel in understanding of the Shabbat, even until this day.        

The sages explain that there are actually 39 separate acts of work that go into the construction of the Mishkan itself. All 39 of these are forbidden on Shabbat. They include, cutting, sewing, tearing, tying, etc. None of these actions should be performed on Shabbat. By kal v’chomer, if we cannot do these things, even to build the Mishkan, we certainly cannot do these things for lesser purposes.

This instruction is an indicator of how important Shabbat should be to us. Even construction on the Mishkan is halted for Shabbat. Let us let this sink in and take to heart the command not to work on Shabbat. Shabbat shalom.

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Rabbi Steven Bernstein

Steve was born on Lag B’Omer in Ann Arbor, MI but was raised in Gainesville, FL. The son of two University of Florida professors, he excelled in the sciences in school. In addition to his normal academic studies, he pursued his Jewish education studying with many Rabbis and professors of Judaic Studies from the University including visiting Rabbis such as Abraham Joshua Heschel and Shlomo Carlebach.