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Vayakhel ~ 5774 ~ ויקהל
The parashah begins with the commandment of Shabbat observance, specifically the prohibition of making fires. Moshe asks for donations of gold, silver, brass; blue, purple and scarlet yarn, fine linen, goat hair, as well as seal and ram skins to be used in constructing the Sanctuary. Both men and women came with major gifts for the Tabernacle’s construction.
Women spun the blue, purple, scarlet yarn, fine linen and the goat hair into the needed materials. The 12 Princes brought the precious stones for the breast plate, as well as the spices and oil for sacrificial purposes.
Bezalel and Ohaliav are singled out as the Master Craftsmen who supervise 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 method of construction for the wooden framework, the “veil and screen”, pinions and staves for the Tabernacle are detailed herein, as well as the building of the Ark itself and the Table of Show breads. The entire Candelabrum (Menorah), even though excessively ornate and decorated, is beaten from one solid piece of pure gold. Matching tongs and snuffers are likewise made. The Incense Altar is described along and we are informed of Bezalel’s making of 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.
MAFTIR Exodus 38: 18-20 ~ p. 381
HAFTORAH I Kings 7:40-50 ~ p. 382
This week’s haftorah describes the construction of several components of the Holy Temple by the craftsman Hiram of Tyre. This parallels the Torah portion which describes the construction of the Tabernacle by the wise Bezalel and his crew of craftspeople. King Solomon called for Hiram, an expert coppersmith, to create copper columns to flank the largest doorway of the Holy Temple. The columns were eighteen cubits (approx. 30 feet) high and were topped by two capitals which were intricately carved with pomegranates and palm leaves. The right column was named Jachin, and the left one was called Boaz. Hiram also built a copper basin. It stood on twelve ornamental oxen, three looking in each direction, north, west, south, and east. In this basin, which was actually a large mikvah, the priests would immerse before they served in the Temple.
Parashah Study Questions
1. According to Midrash, how old was Betzalel? Is this possible? What about Mozart, Chopin, Beethoven and Picasso?
2. What are “plaited garments” (v. 35:10)???
3. In verse 35:32, Betzalel’s job description includes “Lachshov Machshavot” (úåáùçî áåùçì) – what does this literally and figuratively mean to you?
4. In verse 38:8, who performed the “service” at the door of the Mishkan? Does the Hebrew say “perform”?
5. The haftarah mentions the names of the columns at the Temple entrance. Why name them? Why these names?