1. The name of the Torah reading of the coming Shabbos, Vayakhel
means “and he (Moshe) assembled.” Therefore, it is particularly appropriate that a farbrengen be held at this time. This is particularly true, in view of the interpretation of the Medrash that Moshe’s call to gather the Jewish people was not limited to that occasion alone. Rather, he ordained that from then on, Jews should come together on Shabbos
and other special occasions.
The gathering of the Jewish people itself is a matter of substance. The Alter Rebbe writes in Tanya that when ten Jews gather together, even when they aren’t studying Torah, the Shechinah (G-d’s Divine Presence) rests upon them to such a powerful degree that an angel standing in their presence would be consumed. Also, the value of the gathering of the Jewish people can be seen from the outcome. At that time the joining together of all the Jews brought to the surface each individual’s generosity and openness of the heart. They all gave gold, silver, copper, etc., and worked together to build the sanctuary. There, the sacrifices, whose very name “korban,” alludes to drawing close to G-d, were offered. These sacrifices in turn brought about a revelation of G-dliness which was felt even in the physical world.
And so may it be for us. May we witness the building of the third Bais HaMikdash, and bring sacrifices there. In the merit of our service now, while still in Exile, may we greet Mashiach, who will build the Bais HaMikdash and gather the exiles, speedily in our days.
2. This Shabbos follows the holiday of Purim. Shabbos enhances the holiday as it does to all the aspects of the preceding week, contributing pleasure to the service of G-d carried out therein.
Purim’s central theme is transformation: the radical turn-about in which Haman’s decree was annulled and, rather than face extinction as a people, “the Jews had light and happiness, joy and honor.” What brought about this transformation? — Mordechai’s fulfillment of Esther’s request that he “gather together all the Jews.”
Likewise, in our day assemblies were recently held in many places in honor of the holiday. Those gatherings will certainly leave a lasting effect on the days that will follow, in this month of Adar, and in all the months to come even until next Purim when we will once again celebrate the holiday with renewed light. May these gatherings motivate us to add to our study of Torah and fulfillment of Mitzvos and may we make that increase soon. This, in turn, will hasten the fulfillment of G-d’s promise to redeem the Jewish people. Then G-d will lead each Jew one by one to the true and complete redemption.
3. In addition to all the great revelations which will occur in the time of the third Bais HaMikdash, the sanctuary constructed by Moshe will again be revealed and will be incorporated into that new building. Despite the power and prominence of the new manifestations of G-dliness, Moses’s sanctuary will still be necessary. That sanctuary, the construction of which is described in this week’s portion, was made from the gifts of the entire Jewish community: men, women, and children.
From this prophecy, we can derive a lesson which is applicable not only in Messianic times, but in ours, as well. We see that the gifts of the children of Moshe’s time will become an eternal part of the Bais HaMikdash. From that, we can appreciate the power of a child’s contribution in Torah and Mitzvos. This realization should prompt us to further activity in Mivtza Chinuch, the campaign for Torah education.
Likewise, we should realize that education should not only be limited to the young. Adults also have a need for Chinuch. This is particularly true, in light of the approaching Passover holiday, which contains so many laws and customs.
From there we should proceed to Mivtza Torah — the campaign to study Torah to the fullest extent of our capacities, and then to Mivtza Tefillin — as the Talmud says — “the entire Torah has been compared to Tefillin.” And then to Mivtza Mezuzah which protects us while at home and outside — and to Mivtza Tzedakah — which in the Talmud’s words “brings about the redemption.” (And which is also tied to Passover, the. holiday of redemption when special Tzedakah, “Maos Chitim,” is always given to poor people to enable them to buy Matzah). Then to Mivtza Bais Maleh Seforim — the campaign to insure that a Jew’s house be filled with holy books which will help learn Torah, do Mitzvos, and educate his children.
And then also to the three Mivtzoyim which are connected with women, (particularly relevant now in Parshas Vayakhel which relates how their generosity towards building the sanctuary exceeded that of the men) Mivtza Nairos Shabbos Kodesh, Mivtza Kashrus, and Mivtza Taharas Hamishpachah.
Progress in the area of education will bring about our redemption from Exile. “With our youth and elders together” (without a generation gap separating them) we will leave exile and greet Mashiach and go with him to Israel, make the festival pilgrimages and partake, even during this coming Pesach, of the Pascal sacrifices.
4. This Shabbos we also read Parshas Parah (the portion dealing with the Red Heifer). Similar to the idea described above concerning the sanctuary built by Moshe, applies in the case of the Red Heifer. Tradition holds that throughout Jewish history ten Red Heifers will be sacrificed. Nine have already been offered. The tenth will be offered in Messianic times. In that time, both the Red Heifer and the priests who will bring the Red Heifer will be in the most elevated state possible (as understood from the principle that then mitzvos will be carried out according to Your (G-d’s) desire), but nevertheless ashes from the Red Heifer made by Moshe will be used. [Translator’s note: A Red Heifer cannot be sacrificed without the ashes from a previous one]. When Moses offered the Red Heifer, he set aside some of its ashes “to be kept” for future generations. The other eight Red Heifers were offered using those ashes and in Messianic times they will be revealed again and used in the sacrificing of the tenth Heifer.
The Alter Rebbe explained that this process of sacrifice represented a general principle in Torah behavior. He based that explanation on its’ description as “Chukas HaTorah” which he translated as “the rule of the Torah” parallel to the translation of (Jeremiah 33:25) “Chukas Shomaim U’eretz” — “the rule of heavens and earth.”
Two general movements were inherent in the process of bringing the Red Heifer: elevation from below to above — the Heifer was consumed in the flames and rose heavenward; lowering from above to below — “living waters” were brought into a vessel (an object with-a fixed. limit and capacity). In personal terms, these movements correspond to an individual’s arousal to serve G-d and the drawing down of G-dliness into the world. .
These two movements characterize our Torah service — in Exile, before Exile began, and even after Exile — in Messianic times. Then we will use the-ashes of Moses’s Red Heifer. He, the first redeemer, will be joined with the final redeemer. And then, just as in Moses’s times the entire Jewish people came together to build the sanctuary, so too may we in the Rambam’s words “through one good thought, word, or action, bring salvation to ourselves ...and to the entire world” and hasten the coming of Mashiach speedily in our days.
- (Back to text) Even though this week is a double Parshah, in which both Vayakhel and Pekudei are read, Vayakhel is given primacy over Pekudei.
- (Back to text) For that reason, the first concept mentioned in Parshas Vayakhel is the laws of Shabbos.
- (Back to text) Even though the farbrengen is being held Motzaei Shabbos, nevertheless, the very name Motzaei Shabbos shows the connection between tonight and Shabbos (even in Yiddish, Saturday night is called “Shahbase Nacht,” emphasizing that connection). Though, Halachically speaking, Sunday has already begun, the custom is that we hold a Melaveh Malkah in Saturday night. The very name Melaveh Malkah — accompanying the (Shabbath) queen, demonstrates the connection with Shabbos. Likewise, we see that our behavior — the way we eat, drink, and sing is still under the influence of Shabbos. “
- (Back to text) The name for sanctuary in Hebrew, “mishkan,” is related to the word Shechinah (the Divine Presence). The purpose of the sanctuary (Mishkan). was to reveal the Shechinah.
- (Back to text) The name “Korban” is related to the root “1’karev,” “to come close.”
- (Back to text) G-d made that promise to Moshe Rabbeinu during the revelation at the burning bush. He told Moshe that He was called “Ehia Asher Ehia” (I will be what I will be) interpreted by our Sages to mean just as “I will be with them in this trouble” (and redeem them), so “I will be with them in later exiles” (and redeem them).
This particularly applies now since our spiritual .revel has risen since the exile from Egypt. Then a decree “the spiritual shall not descend to the physical realms, the physical shall not rise to the spiritual realms” existed. When the Torah was given, G-d annulled that decree. Afterwards, Moshe went up to G-d and climbed into the spiritual realms. Since Moshe was the shepherd of the entire Jewish people, his elevation was not only personal, but he took with him all Jewish souls, even those from our generations. They shared in the elevation he experienced. Furthermore, through our service to G-d in thought, speech, and action we have elevated and refined our souls and the world around us.
- (Back to text) The stress on each individual Jew is brought out in Rashi’s commentary in Shemos where he notes that the Jewish people are compared to stars, which G-d counts daily, mentioning each star individually.
- (Back to text) The redemption by Mashiach is also intrinsically connected with the holiday of Purim. The Talmud says Mashiach will come “B’Hesach Hadas”—-unexpectedly, when our thoughts are diverted. Likewise, one of the central mitzvos of Purim is to drink until “Ad Vlo yada” — beyond all thought and logic.
- (Back to text) This also shows a connection to Purim when the decree was issued to destroy the entire Jewish people: “man, women, and children in one day.”
- (Back to text) All the Messianic prophecies serve two functions: ]) they strengthen our faith in the coming of the Messiah, 2) they provide Tactical lessons for Torah service at all times.
- (Back to text) When someone gives “Maos Chitim” — he receives more than he gives. His gift sets the tone and insures him a Kosher and happy Pesach.
- (Back to text) Similarly, at the Giving of the Torah, G-d asked Moses to address the women before the men.
- (Back to text) Taharas Hamishpachah is also related to Pesach. The primary means of “Taharah” (attainment of ritual purity) is through fire. (Note: Talmud Tractate Sanhedrin p.39). However, G-d, in His mercy, ordained that it could also be achieved through immersion in water. The exile in Egypt is called the “Iron Furnace.” Through their slavery there, the Jewish people achieved purity on its highest level.
- (Back to text) Translator’s note: The Rebbe himself used the English words “generation gap.”
- (Back to text) Mashiach may come now, even though it is Saturday night and Elijah who will announce Mashiach’s revelation cannot, according to Torah law, come on Shabbos. Nevertheless, not all the events prophesied to occur prior to Mashiach’s coming will necessarily occur. The prophet Isaiah proclaims “I, G-d, will hasten it (the Messianic redemption) in his time.” The Talmud interprets the apparent contradiction in the above verse to mean there is an appointed time for Mashiach’s coming, but he may come even before that because G-d will “hasten it.” If Mashiach comes in “his time” all the prophecies will be fulfilled. If, however, his coming is hastened, some may not be fulfilled.
Furthermore, when Elijah comes he will answer “all questions and problems.” Likewise, if Mashiach comes now and someone still has difficulty in accepting it, Elijah will help him solve that problem, as well.
- (Back to text) In fact, since it serves as the conclusion of the Torah reading and is the focus of the Haftorah, it can be considered the principal element of the Torah reading.
- (Back to text) A parallel example can be seen regarding the oil Moses used to anoint and sanctify the vessels of the sanctuary. Though the oil was poured over all the vessels, tradition maintains that it did not diminish in volume and will be used again in Messianic times to anoint the vessels of the third Bais HaMikdash.
- (Back to text) Living waters, refers to water from a river which did not dry up even once in seven years; i.e. to something permanent and eternal.
- (Back to text) The fusion of Moshe and Mashiach is paralleled by every Jew in the study of Torah. When a Jew reveals a new Torah principle, if it is in fact genuine, then it is not his own, but Halachah received by Moses on Mt. Sinai.