Parshiyot Vayakhel-Pekudei 5783

March 13, 2023

Click HERE  for an audio recording of this D’var Torah Where do we face in our holy space? A D’var Torah for Parshiyot Vayakhel-Pekudei By Rabbi Rob Scheinberg “Once or twice she had peeped into the book her sister was reading, but it had no pictures or conversations in it, “and what is the use of a book,” thought Alice, “without pictures or conversations?” — Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland Alice might have approved of the Talmud, which has conversations among the sages on every page. But she might have been disappointed that there are not very many pictures. There is, however, an evocative picture inspired by a verse from this week’s Torah portion, found in printed editions of the Babylonian Talmud in Rashbam’s commentary to Tractate Bava Batra 99a, that carries some relevance for us as we seek spiritual connection in holy spaces.   This week’s Torah portion of Vayakhel-Pekudei describes the construction of the Mishkan, the portable sanctuary that was used during the...

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Parashat Vayakhel – Shabbat Shekalim 5782

February 24, 2022

Click HERE for an audio recording of this D’var Torah Generosity and Commitment A D’var Torah for Parashat Vayakhel By Rabbi Enid Lader (’10) Voluntary gifts from every quarter of the Israelite population formed the material out of which the Mishkan and its sacred vessels and priestly clothing were crafted and built. There was no imposed special tax for this purpose, but merely the request for voluntary individual contributions: “Take from among you gifts to the Eternal; everyone whose heart so moves him shall bring them—gifts for the Eternal…” (Exodus 35:5). And bring they did, with such exuberance and generosity that those in charge of the project begged Moses to end the campaign: “The people are bringing more than is needed for the tasks entailed in the work that the Eternal has commanded to be done” (Exodus 36:5). Thus, we have the first building campaign that over-subscribed its goal! This Shabbat we also commemorate...

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Parshiyot Vayakhel-Pikudei

March 12, 2021

Click HERE for an audio recording of this D’var Torah A D’var Torah for Parshiyot Vayakhel-Pekudei By Rabbi Ariann Weitzman (’11) Parshiyot Vayakhel-Pekudei recount the building, but more importantly, the embellishment, of the Tabernacle in the wilderness, according to detailed instructions given in last week’s parashah. This lavish description of fabrics, stones, weaving, woodworking, and artisanship comes on the heels of the building and destruction of the Golden Calf. There are some commentators who read the Golden Calf and the Tabernacle as two potential ends to the same impulse: a desire to build a physical presence to represent the ineffable, and to create a home for worship and supplication. While the episode of the Golden Calf represented the worst possible process for building a site for communal worship, the Tabernacle represented the best. While the Golden Calf was constructed under the leadership of Aaron, who failed to either provide authority...

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Parashat Vayak’hel / P’kudei 5780

March 20, 2020

  A D’var Torah for Parashat Vayak’hel P’kudei By Rabbi Bruce Alpert (’11)What does it mean to have a “willing heart?” The phrase is used three times in the opening verses of this week’s parashah, Vayak’hel/P’kudei (Exodus 35:5, 22, and 29). It likewise appears in Parashat Terumah, Exodus 25:2. In each instance the circumstances are the same; it describes the voluntary donations of precious materials (gold, silver, jewels, rare fabrics) used for the construction of the Mishkan – God’s dwelling place among the Israelite tribes. These donations are all made by those whose heart moves them to do so, and they are made in such profusion that Moses ultimately must command the Israelites to stop (Exodus 36:6). But we only realize how evocative is the phrase “willing heart” when we consider the source of these gifts. These materials were acquired by the Israelites as they left Egypt, stripping it of its precious objects as they...

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Parashat Vayakhel 5779

March 1, 2019

A D’var Torah for Parashat Vayakhel By Rabbi Heidi Hoover (’11) In this week’s Torah portion, Vayakhel, the Israelites finally get to do something. Something sanctioned, something that is approved—in fact, instructed—by God through Moses. Moses has received the detailed instructions from God to build a dwelling-place for God among the Israelites, the Tabernacle. The Israelites became restless and anxious while waiting for Moses: In last week’s Torah portion they made the Golden Calf, and were punished for it. Now Moses stands before them again, and this time they are not in trouble. Moses begins by instructing them to work six days of the week, but to rest on the seventh. Then they are instructed to bring as gifts the materials needed to build the Tabernacle, and they bring, and bring, and bring, until there is more than is needed and they have to be told to stop. Why do...

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