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Rabbi's Corner

Vayakheil – Rabbi Lerner – March 4, 2018


Key Words that Reveal

Rav Elchanan Samet: there are words that are repeated numerous times in the text to bring out some important non-obvious lessons.

Previously we had been given the instructions for building the Mishkan in Parshas Terumah. Moshe now gathers all the people together on the day after Yom Kippur, and he begins to speak with them again about the Mishkan. 35:4-5: And Moshe said to the entire assembly of Bnei Yisrael, saying: “This is the word that Hashem has commanded, saying “Take from yourselves a portion for Hashem, everyone whose heart motivates him shall bring it, as the gift for Hashem: gold, silver, copper… He announced they were going to build a shul for God. From 35:5 on there are seven times that the word Terumah recurs – in 35:5 (twice), 21, 24 (twice), 36:3, 6. There are also 14 different categories of material that are to be donated listed in 35:5-9. Within these 14 are precious metals, fabrics, wood, animal skins, oil, spices, and precious stones. Another word that is repeated frequently is different variations of the word Bo, to come – it is said 14 times, beginning in 35:5, 35:21 twice (they came bringing different donations), 22, 23, 24, 25, 27, 28, 29, 36:3, 4, 5, 6. The Torah repeats the word time after time – there was a donation and they continually kept coming with the material to build God’s house.

The Gemorrah says what Hashem wants most from us is our hearts, our emotions, our fervor and enthusiasm. The source for this is in Divrei Hayaim I 28:9: Because Hashem searches all the hearts and discerns every product of one’s thoughts. If you seek Him, He will let Himself be found by you…. There is an emotional yearning to be with God. Based on this, there is another critical word that repeats – the word Lev, heart – there are two series of seven times that it is repeated. Key words usually repeat 7 times. When God wants to create a particular lesson, He repeats it 7 times. The word Terumah appeared seven times; Bo 14 times; and there are two cycles of Lev, 7 each. God wants the heart of the people – not just the monetary donation. He wants to motivate us to fall in love with Him, and He wants to be with us. We need to have a passion for Him as He has for us. The word Lev appears in 35:5 – Nediv Libo – and then in 35:10, 21, 22, 25, 26, 29. The next cycle begins in 35:34, where it talks about Betzalel who had a wise heart to build everything to perfection. Then 35:35, 36:1, 2 (three times), 8. There are big differences between these two sections – the first is all about the people using wisdom to bring the donations; the second was about doing the work, using their talents to construct the different vessels and the Mishkan. To make an institution function, you need the donations of both material and money, and then the donation of actual work and time – that is the key to a successful project. Hashem wants the person’s heart in donating and contributing time and talent.

35:25-26: Women with wisdom of the heart spun materials into fabrics and skins – this is repeated twice in these two pasukim because they were exceptional – they were there to do the work after already having donated the materials. The women did not donate their wealth to the building of the Egel – that was only the men who went astray. The women knew what to give for – here they gave not only of their wealth, but also their valuable time; it was a tremendous thing. The women led the way with this, making things with exacting measure – they showed how much they wanted to give over of themselves for this project out of love of God – mitzvohs done with one’s own body are enamored by God. It is greater than just giving of one’s money. This is emphasized in Divrei Hayaim I 28:9: And you, my son Shlomo: Know the God of your father and serve Him with a perfect heart and soul… David instructs this to Shlomo when he is to build the Bais Hamikdash – all of the work that goes into it should have the people’s heart – Sforno: this is why the Mishkan was the only one of the holy structures built by Bnei Yisrael that did not fall into the hands of the enemy – because it was the only one built exclusively by Bnai Yisrael with love, without foreign workers. 35:21: Ramban: those who were lifted by their hearts to come where the ones who built it – the ones who came with their hearts were greater than those who just donated money. The ones who want to draw near to do the work are the greatest – they weren’t the wealthiest ones – it says about them that they are the ones with uplifted hearts. Ibn Ezra also makes this distinction between the donors. Rav Saadia Gaon: disagrees and says that the ones with hearts lifted up were the givers of Terumah.

David drives home an important lesson that is derived from here. He says in Divrei Hayamim I 29:14: For who am I, and what is my people, that we should muster the strength to donate in this manner? For everything is from You, and you’re your hand have we given to You. These are the people who donate their talent and brilliance, and it all comes from God – we have to give it back to Him by doing these incredible things with our talents for His glory. All of Betzalael’s wisdom was endowed to him by God – Hashem wanted him to have these special talents, and he then gave back to God.

If we have been given the ability to be a leader, an organizer, an inspirer of others, it is all a gift from God – He gave it over to us and we are to repay Him by using those gifts for heavenly tasks. That is what God is telling us. The Chochmas Lev comes from God and we should thank Him by using it appropriately. God really can’t get anything from us as a gift – He is not lacking in any way. What we can do is take what He has graced us with to build shuls – many copies of a Mikdash Me’At – holy temples for Him; this way God will reside in each of our communities. We take the wisdom He has graced us with to build something holy. Lechah Hashem Hagedula Vehagevura Vahatiferes VeHahod – all of our wealth is from Hashem, and whatever way we can contribute we should. As David says, everything we get and give is from Hashem’s hand – He gives it to us and we need to return some of it as the only way to show appreciation – we must make His name glorified in this world with the materials and talents He bestows upon us.

Mon, June 25 2018 12 Tammuz 5778