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Vayakhel – Pekudei (Shabbat Parah) ~ 5772 ~ ויקהל־פקודי
Once again, the Commandment of Shabbat observance is reiterated, specifically forbidding 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 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 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, 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 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, 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 are to travel onward.
MAFTIR Shabbat Parah Bamidbar 19:1 – 22 ~ page 652 – 655
Read on the Shabbas before Nissan, as part of the preparations to go to Jerusalem for the Passover offering. The laws of Parah Adumah recount the preparing of the potion from the ashes of the Red Heifer, the general mitzvah of the concept of ritual impurity from contact with a corpse, and the law of purifying oneself with the Para Aduma potion. The hearing of this parsha is considered by some to be a Torah requirement, similar to Parshat Zachor.
HAFTORAH Ezekiel 36:16 – 38 ~ page 999
The Haftara takes the concept (from the Maftir) of an individual becoming TAMEI and requiring purification with special water as an analogy for the people of Israel who defiled themselves with the sin of idolatry and other sins. G-d expresses His great disappointment with the people of Israel and He punished them harshly. G-d’s name was being desecrated among the nations of our dispersion – the nations mockingly noted how low the Nation of Israel had fallen. In response, G-d announces that He will redeem the people of Israel, even if we don’t deserve it, for His own sake. The last verses refer to a multitude of sheep – for sacrifices… This is a reminder of the large number of sheep brought to Jerusalem for the Passover Sacrifice.
Parsha Study Questions
1. What is a “double Torah portion”? How often does it occur? Why are there double portions anyway?
2. Who were the Karites and how did they observe the mitzvah found in v. 35:3?
3. According to v. 36:1, was construction of the Tabernacle based on divine instruction or logic?
4. What was the famous restriction on anyone who made, transported or burned the ketoret incense in the Tabernacle?
5. Does everyone traditionally stand at the end of the reading of one of the Five Books of Moses? Does everyone recite the same verse?
6. What is the purpose of Parshat Parah?