The Torah portion Vayakhel presents Moses’ speech to the Israelite community at one of the many special gatherings during their wanderings in the desert. The speech opens with a brief restatement of the commandment to keep the Sabbath. However, the topic of Moses’ message is the building of the Tabernacle. Moses solicits gifts—gold, silver, copper, and a long list of other items—to provide for the physical structure of the Tabernacle and its adornment. He also urges those who are skilled builders to construct the Tabernacle, the tent to cover it, and all the furniture within, including the ark.
Our biblical ancestors understood the unifying power of a community effort to construct a sanctuary. With regard to giving gifts and engaging in the labour of building, the biblical text uses the phrase “everyone whose heart so moves him” to recognise the psychological need to give, as well as to praise those who donate or volunteer their wealth and time. Our biblical text provides an example of gratitude for gifts given when the heart moves the giver or the contribution of labour is a reflection of unique skill.
This Shabbat we honour the women of our congregation as part of the Women’s day of prayer, and recognise their contribution to our “modern” sanctuary. As someone who sits nearly every day in the office of Bet David, I am able to witness day after day how much women contribute to the success of our congregation. The amazing team of our Kehillah, the wonderful staff of the Mitzvah School, and of course Rabbi Margolis, Glynnis, Sharon, Kendyll and Di in the office. Often their engagement goes beyond the normal, and that is what makes Bet David a warm and welcoming Shul.
Thank you all for making Bet David so special.
I feel blessed to work with those wonderful women.
Shabbat Shalom – Rabbi Adrian M Schell
(Summary of the parasha by Rabbi Lewis M. Barth)
- Torah Reading for Shabbat Vayakhel – Blessing for the new month Adar II
- Exodus 35:1-38:21 (Reading Ex 35:1-26; Plaut p.612; Hertz p.373);
- Haftarah: II Kings 12:5-16 (Plaut p.1451; Hertz p.992
- Torah Study with Rabbi Schell every Shabbat at 08h45
- Thursday Night Liturgy Class with Rabbi Schell – every Thursday at 18.00 – 19.30
- Podcast of Rabbi Schell’s weekly Sermons Tuesdays on Radio Today (10h30) or: http://goo.gl/LsHQrY.
In ancient days, every male Israelite twenty years and older had to contribute a half-shekel annually to the maintenance of the Temple in Jerusalem. This had to be paid before the first of Nisan. In order to remind the people of this duty, proclamations were made on the first of Adar that the half-shekel was due (M. Shekalim 1: 1). Inasmuch as Jews came to the synagogue on the Sabbath, it was instituted that on the Sabbath preceding the first of Adar, the Torah reading would include the passage describing the proclamation of the half-shekel. On that Shabbat traditionally two Torah scrolls are removed from the ark. In the one we read the portion of the week, and in the other Exodus 30: 11-16, which contains the passage.
The special Haftarah is from II Kings 12, which is an account of the gifts contributed for the repair of the Temple in the reign of King Jehoash. (Klein, Guide to Jewish Religious Practice, p. 106).