VAYAK’HEIL, EXODUS 35:1–38:20
D’VAR TORAH BY: ELLIOTT A. KLEINMAN
The Torah is filled with great drama. Moviemakers and even animators turn to the text repeatedly for its stunning visual imagery and profound drama. This week’s Torah portion, Vayak’heil, is replete with both.
Close your eyes and imagine the following: Six hundred thousand Jews are encamped at the foot of Mount Sinai. One after another, people come forward, bearing gifts. A midrash tells us they brought earrings of gold, bracelets of silver, and brilliant jewels. For their leaders, they brought tunics of fine cloth and embroidery. This is a description of what followed Moses’ request that the people “take from among you gifts to God; everyone whose heart so moves him shall bring them—gifts for Adonai: gold, silver, and copper.” (Exodus 35:5-9) The bringing of voluntary gifts to build the Mishkan—the sacred Place of Assembly in the wilderness—is the central theme of this week’s portion.
However, this description can also be applied to last week’s parashah, when the Israelites willingly contributed to and collaborated in the building of the golden calf. (Exodus 32) One week later the scene is the same—one after another, the Israelites bring gold and silver, wonderful clothes, and brilliant jewels—but the purpose is different. This time their intent is to build a Mishkan.
Read more at: reformjudaism.org