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Devar Torah - Vayakheil - Pekudei

Friday, 20 March, 2020 - 8:07 am

All Together as One, Sheltered in Place

By Shimon Raichik

This week is Shabbos Chazak, Shabbos Mevarchim Chodesh Nissan, parshas HaChodesh and parshas Vayakel-Pekudei 

First we have to remember that everything that happens in this world is from Hashem and not by accident. On Shabbos Chazak we should be strengthened with full bitachon in Hashem that Hashem will protect us and that we will pull out of this situation with good health. If we have this in mind we don’t need to be frightened by the news rather focus on what the Rebbe often said; “Think good and it will be good”. There are hundreds of letters from the Rebbe that speak about this. By learning these letters we will strengthen our Emunah and Bitachon and be able to strengthen others.

At this time by Divine providence we are required to be in ‘shelter in place’ at home away from everyone else. At the same time the parsha is Vayakel which means to gather together.

The name Vayakel means to gather referring to how Moshe Rabbenu gathered the Jewish people when he came down from Har Sinai to transmit Hashem’s commandment to build the Mishkon. The word Vayakel “to gather” differs from similar words which mean to collect, in that it signifies bringing separate things together to form a collective whole.

This word describes how Moshe Rabbenu gathered the people, since the people had to build the Mishkon as a collective whole, not as individuals. The purpose of the Mishkon was to enable Hashem’s presence to dwell amongst the Jewish people as a whole. In order to fulfill this purpose the materials brought had to become “communal property”. This means that the Jewish people had to be “gathered- Vayakel” into a one united whole.

Using the name Vayakel seems inappropriate for this parsha because it primarily deals with the particulars of the Mishkon which emphasizes the importance of each part as different from all others.

The second part of this week’s combined parsha, Pekudei means the numbers or accounting,  referring to the totals of the materials the people brought to Moshe Rabbenu in order to build the Mishkon. While the word Vayakel describes how the parts were united to form a collective whole, the word Pekudei highlights each part’s identity and that is counted separately.

Parshas Pekudei, like parshas Vayakel seems to mean the opposite of what is contained within the parsha. Although it contains many details regarding the garments of the Kohanim, the majority of the parsha describes in three stages how all the people’s donations were first combined then brought to Moshe Rabbenu and finally how Hashem commanded Moshe to assemble them into the Mishkon.

The answer to the question about parshas Vayakel  is that each part of the Mishkon had a unique kedusha and fulfilled a unique function, but it only fulfilled that function when it became part of the Mishkon as a whole.

The lessons in avodas Hashem we can take from the name Vayakel are the following. 

The first is that all Jews are part of the entire Jewish people, a people necessary for Hashem’s purpose of making this world into a dwelling place for Hashem. In this we are all equals. We  are all part of the same one united inseparable whole and all part of this essential purpose. 

Secondly every individual Jew has a unique purpose to the community just as every detail of the Mishkon was unique yet essential to its overall function. 

Thirdly, although we all have our individual value and identity, nevertheless our unique identity is not truly known until we first identify with all of the Jewish people as a whole. This is similar to the individual parts of the Mishkon which did not become active until the entire Mishkon was erected.

This parsha also  teaches us that despite our shortcomings we should never feel inadequate to fulfill Hashem’s will. If we act with warmth, sincerity and enthusiasm, Hashem will dwell in the Mishkon we build for Him out of our lives.

The answer to the question about parshas Pekudei  is that each part of the Mishkon has a unique holiness and fulfills a unique function, but that is only by virtue of being a part of the Mishkon as a whole. Only once the entire Mishkon has been built and every piece is in its proper  place does each part assume its unique role and become fulfilled with its personal and special spiritual effectiveness.

The lesson from the name of this week’s parsha is, first and foremost, that each of us has intrinsic value and that we are equal to every other Jewish person. The parshios of Vayakel and Pekudei teach us the same lesson of Jewish unity from opposite perspectives. 

From parshas Vayakel we learn that each of us is part of the whole while from parshas Pekudei even when we have a community each person still has intrinsic value as an individual.

Also, the fact that the Mishkon’s parts only began to function once the entire Mishkon was in place reminds us that whatever work we do on behalf of the community is not only for the community’s collective good, but also to enable us to fulfill our unique, individual purpose of making this world a dwelling place for Hashem.

The lesson of Vayakel Pekudei can also be seen in a Sefer Torah. Just like a Sefer Torah has hundreds of thousands of letters yet is one entire entity; that while each letter must have it’s separate space nevertheless it is only a kosher Sefer Torah when all the letters are present and combined into the one Sefer Torah.

So too we see this today in our situation of ‘shelter in place’. Just like a Sefer Torah, every Jew is like a letter of the Sefer Torah that needs space around it that cannot touch another letter. Nevertheless all the letters unite to form one Sefer Torah. So too every Jew although physically separate is part one great people.

Jewish unity is  the key to geula. Just as sinas chinam-baseless hatred was the primary cause of the galus, so too, ahavas Yisroel is its cure. The geula will appear in a way that emphasizes our simultaneous individual and communal identities and purpose.  One one hand we will be redeemed as a nation, as it is said, “A great congregation will return here,” at the same time we will be taken out one at a time as it says, “You will be gathered one by one.”

This Nissan if not sooner we should all merit to be together in Eretz Yisroel in Yerushalayim in the Third Beis HaMikdash with Moshiach bringing and eating the Korban Pesach, each family group individually.

A good Shabbos Chazak and Freichin Gezunt Chodesh 

(Adapted from Likutei Sichos volume 21 pages 250-259)

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