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Vayakel – Pekudei ~ 5775 ~ ויקהל־פקודי ~ Shabbat Parah
The commandment of Shabbat observance is again reiterated, specifically the forbidding of making fires. Moshe asks for donations of gold, silver, brass, blue, purple, scarlet linen and goat hair fabric, as well as seal and ram skins to be used in constructing the Sanctuary. Men and women responded generously and willingly with donations of materials and labor.
Bezalel and Ohaliav were singled out as the Master Craftsmen who supervised all the Sanctuary artisanship and construction. The intricacies of the woodwork, metal, and weavings are given in detail. The donations to this work are so excessive that Moshe must ask Israel to stop donating. The mechanism of constructing the veil, curtains pinions and staves of the Sanctuary are detailed here as well as the configurations of the Ark of the Tablets and Table of showbreads. The entire Candelabrum(Menorah), is beaten from one solid piece of pure gold, even though it is excessively ornate and decorated. Matching tongs and snuffers are likewise made. The Incense Altar is described along with informing us of Bezalel’s making anointing oil.
The making of the Sacrificial Altar, its pots, pans, shovels, hooks and carrying staves are explained herein. The Courtyard and its curtains are made using the technique consistent with the entire structure and the Tabernacle’s motif. The cost accounting and financial management is given, accomplished by Itamar, Aaron’s youngest son. The weights of gold and silver correspond to the population numbers gathered in the previous census. The making of the High Priest’s vestments (holy garments) are described here. It included the Ephod (Breast Plate) with its twelve stones and engraved tribal names, and the chains and rings used to tie them on the wearer.
All the magnificent, awe-inspiring handiwork to be used in the worship of G-d in the Sanctuary and worn by the priests is completed. Moshe sees the work is completed and blesses Israel. On Rosh Chodesh Nisan, two weeks short of exactly a year after the Great Exodus, the Tabernacle is erected under Moshe’s scrutiny. The contents, furniture and vestments are placed in order. A cloud covered the Tabernacle which represented the Glory of G-d. When the cloud lifted, it meant the Israelites were to travel onward.
MAFTIR Numbers 19:1-22 ~ p. 652-655
HAFTORAH Shabbat Parah: Ezekiel 36:16-38 ~ p. 999
During a severe drought, Elijah tells Obadiah (who secretly saved 100 prophets from Jezebel’s persecution) to inform Ahad of his presence. Elijah confronts Ahad and challenges 450 prophets of Baal and 400 prophets of the goddess Astarte at Mount Carmel. In front of the amassed crowd of people, the false prophets work themselves into a frenzy and gash themselves, calling in vain upon Baal to send down fire and consume their sacrifice. Elijah prepares his sacrifice on an altar of twelve stones, drenches it in water and utters a simple prayer to G-d. Fire consumes the sacrifice, and the people, witnessing the miracle exclaim “The Lord, He is G-d! The Lord, He is G-d!” A thunderstorm ends the drought.
Parashah Study Questions
- Why do Sephardim only make a blessing of Hagafen on the first and third cups of wine at the Seder, while Ashkenazim make a bracha before all four cups?
- Ashkenazi and Sephardi “Mah Nishtana” differ in order of the questions. What do you think is the reasoning?
- Sefardi: a) Dip? b) Matzah? c) Maror? d) Recline?
- Ashkenazi: a) Matzah? b) Maror? c) Dip? d) Recline”
- Why do many Sephardi traditions NOT open the door when reciting “Shfoch Chamascha”?
- Roasted egg, maror, pesach (shankbone), karpas, charoset…which symbol on the Seder plate do you think is the most important?
- Why, in Jewish tradition, is the yetzer harah (evil inclination) compared to chametz (leavened food)?