The Living Torah is a weekly publication distributed in and around North West London. Written by members of Hasmonean High School's Sixth Form programme - we aim to bring you divrei torah for your Shabbat table each and everyweek.

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Thursday, 11 March 2010

Shabbat, The Mishkan and Donations

The first of this week’s Parashas starts off with Moshe gathering the Jewish people together to tell them three things. Firstly, how they should keep Shabbos even though they are building the Mishkan. Secondly, that no fire should be lit on Shabbos. Thirdly, that they should make donations towards the building of the Mishkan.

Rashi points out when this gathering took place. He says that it was as soon as Moshe had come down from Har Sinai after the Eigel with the second Luchos. Since Moshe came down on Yom Kippur, the first available opportunity was on the day after Yom Kippur.

The Sifsei Chachomim asks on this point a question from Rashi in Parashas Yisro. Over there (Shemos 18:13) the possuk tells us that, “It was on the following day and Moshe sat and judged the nation …. From morning to evening.” Rashi says that the day that the possuk is referring to is the day after Yom Kippur. If Moshe spent that whole day “from morning to evening” judging the nation, then when could he say Parashas Va’yakhel?

The Sifsei Chachomim answers that Rashi himself covers this question in a later comment on that possuk in Yisro. Rashi says peshat in “from morning to evening” is not to be taken literally. Rather it is there to teach us that whoever judges a correct judgement, it is if they are partners with Hashem in creation where it says, “And there was evening, there was morning.” Since “from morning to evening” is not literal rather Moshe only spent some of his time judging he had time to say over Va’yakhel.

The Kli Yakar says over that there is a much more fundamental connection between Moshe judging the people and Parashas Va’yakhel. Parashas Va’yakhel instructs the Jewish people to bring donations to the Mishkan. This could only be done once Moshe had judged the people to solve all the monetary disputes, because if people would donate beforehand there might be donations of some funds which come from somebody who is not the rightful owner. Only after all disputes are solved and all monies are definitely with their right owner can the donations begin.

He goes onto explain why all this had to happen on the day after Yom Kippur. The Mishkan was a unique opportunity for over 3 million people to have a share in the same building. What would normally happen when 3 million Jews would have to build a house together? Can you imagine the Machlokes? The only way this could happen is if all the Jews had Achdus. On Yom Kippur when we received the second Luchos and forgiveness for the Eigel we managed to also regain the incredible level which we had at Matan Torah of “K’Ish Echad B’leiv Echad”-“Like one man with one heart.” Only with this level of Achdus could we begin to start talking about building a Mishkan. Therefore Parashas Va’yakhel needed to start as soon as possible now Moshe has removed the technical problem of a few court cases.

He then brings a Drush which puts the icing on the cake. We are told that there should be no fire lit in our dwellings on Shabbos. Fire is representative of heated Machlokes. Building the Mishkan helped us maintain the level of Achdus and avoid Machlokes. However, that is all very well throughout the week, what about Shabbos when we can’t build the Mishkan? Therefore we have a special possuk warning us that on Shabbos when we aren’t building the Mishkan, be extra careful to avoid Machlokes.

By Aharaon Goldwater

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