VAYAKHEL-PKEUDEI, Ex. 35-40, is the detailed execution of all the instructions for building and inaugurating the tabernacle given to Moshe in the previous 3 readings. God's Presence filled the tabernacle-- the test of a true sanctuary; multi-million dollar temples, devoid of daily worshippers and a sense of holiness, are worth as little as rabbis whose main claim to fame is knowledge of archeology, politics, and Biblical criticism. Far more valuable is a little storefront shul crowded with ardent minyanim, led by Torah scholars filled with awe of God and faith in His Torah. God led Israel to Israel thru the Diaspora Desert via a cloud by day, illuminated by fire by night. Thus Exodus closes with God's Constant Presence restored to the Jewish people, as He was with the Patriarchs (Ramban, vs. the baseless heretical Encyclopedia Judaica article on Exodus which treats these verses as a later appendage!).

Ex. 35:1- 38:20, 38:21- End

VAYAKHEL- Moshe now relays God's Tabernacle instructions to the Jews. All 39 catagories of work involved must cease on Shabbat. He announced the Divine appointment and endowment of Betzalel and Oholiav for the Tabernacle Project; they are ALSO given sensitivity to teach others (cf. The Peter Principle). The whole Jewish community quickly got up, left Moshe, and went to work. Both men and women eagerly contributed materials.

CH. 36: Moshe tells all the volunteer craftsmen to take the materials and get to work (unlike Moshe, they do not have to give an accounting). They told Moshe that the people were donating too much. Moshe told them to STOP fundraising! They completed the Tabernacle.

CH. 37: Betzalel then showed extra zeal in making the ark and the other inner Tabernacle furnishings (Rashi). God and Moshe put the holier furnishings first in their teaching- they're the goal; but Betzalel first executed their house, the Tabernacle- a strong State of Israel may have to precede the goal, a truly holy one. Our first hope, Hatikva, is to be a free people in our land; but that is only to lead to our ultimate hope, the second refrain, to become a holy people there.

CH. 38:Next Betzalel made the copper outer sacrificial altar and its accessories, then the basin, from the mirrors of the women. The courtyard completed the tabernacle construction.

P'KUDEI: begins with the accounting of the metal used in the Tabernacle.

CH. 39: THE COLORED WOOL, NOT counted, was also used for the linen- free packing cloths for the sacred furniture, and for the priestly garments. The Jews followed God's instructions throughout the construction (rather than doing their own Calfian thing). They brought everything to Moshe for assembly and his certificate of kashrut!- "AND Moshe SAW all the work and BEHOLD they did it as God commanded... AND MOSHE BLESSED THEM" (39:43). Creative people must subordinate their creative impulse to God's instructions- cf. profane artists.

CH. 40: God told Moshe to personally erect the Tabernacle on 1 Nissan (almost a year after Exodus). All is to be sanctified for use, via the annointing oil. "MOSHE DID ACCORDING TO ALL THAT GOD COMMANDED HIM, SO HE DID!" (40:16)- transferring the priesthood from himself and his progeny, to Aharon and his.

Moshe put both the whole and broken tablets in the ark- a senile scholar is still to be treated with great respect. Moshe, Aharon, and Aharon's sons all washed their hands and feet at the washstand; so would they do, whenever entering the Tabernacle or bringing sacrifices. At each stage, it is repeated that Moshe did "AS GOD COMMANDED"- Israel's leaders must themselves be led by God; only a "rabbi" himself observant can convert others to Judaism. Moshe offered incense, as well as meal offerings. "AND MOSHE COMPLETED THE WORK. THE CLOUD COVERED THE TABERNACLE AND THE GLORY OF GOD FILLED THE TABERNACLE... (40:34-5)". The Jews journeyed when the cloud did; otherwise, they stayed put. "THE CLOUD OF GOD STAYED ON THE TABERNACLE BY DAY AND FIRE WAS IN IT BY NIGHT. THIS WAS VISIBLE TO ALL THE HOUSE OF ISRAEL IN ALL THEIR TRAVELS (38)."

E. HAFTORAT VAYAKHEL is I Kings 7:40-50 for Ashkenazim, 18-25 for Sfardim (when it's read alone, except on the Sabbaths of Shekalim and Parah). The simple tabernacle stands in contrast to Solomon's opulant Temple, with 2 immense pillars, Yachin and Boaz, at its entrance; they testify that the Temple is only worthwhile and viable if it fulfills the "word of God". The Jew, priest of mankind emerges in the messianic era to GRADUALLY create the model State of Israel; it will show the world the direction, meaning, and definition of human existence, bringing it back to Eden via Jerusalem (from M. Hirsch).

THE HAFTORA for Pkeudei, per Ashkenazim, deals with the completion of the First Temple, 1 Kings 7:51-8:21 (Sefardim read 7:40-50; Ashkenazim also read this if Vayakhel is Parshat Shekalim). David not only acquired the site of the Temple, but also dedicated materials and utensils for it. In the painful exiles of Golder's Green and Kew Garden Hills, this haftora's also read on the 2nd day of Sukkos, when we pray that God restore the Temple, "David's fallen sukkah" (tho the first 2 verses, mentioning David, are left out on Sukkos).

FOR MAFTIR, on Shabbat Hachodesh, we read Ex. 12:1-20, about the approach of Nissan and Passover.

THE HAFTORA then is Ezek. 45:16- 46:18: The prophet allocates obligations to provide sacrifices between the princes and the folk, describes the procedure for presentation of sacrifices in the Temple, and protects the inheritance of the folk from rapacious princes.

On Shabbat Para, Ariel Tzvi Fogelman's Bar Mitzva portion--

FOR MAFTIR, we read about the red heifer of purification, Num. 19:1-22.

So THE HAFTORA, Ezekial 36:16-38, predicts God's purification and reunification of scattered Israel in their one and only pure land-- Israel. Both the land and people will be gloriously rebuilt, recognized as God's special treasure by all nations (no more Islam?).

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