This week we have a double parshah, Vayakhel- Pekudei, in which Moshe tells over to Bnei Yisrael all the details of the Mishkan which we have seen in previous parshiyos. We are introduced to Betzalel, Oholiav, and their entire team of artisans who were in charge of the construction. The pesukim also tell us that each and every member of the Jewish nation donated with full hearts to the Mishkan’s construction; all wanting to contribute to this very special building.
Parshas Vayakhel starts off, “וַיַּקְהֵל מֹשֶׁה אֶת כָּל עֲדַת בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל” “And Moshe assembled the entire assembly of the Bnei Yisrael…” (Shemos 35:1). Rashi explains that this gathering took place the day after Yom Kippur which was the day Moshe came down from Har Sinai for the second time. The Kli Yakar points out that according to Rashi, this is the same day that Yisro set up the court system after seeing Moshe sitting and judging the entire nation by himself (See Shemos 18:13-26). It seems that this was quite a busy day! Between Moshe judging the entire nation, Yisro setting up a new system of judges, Moshe telling over the details of the Mishkan to the nation, and the collection of the materials for the construction, there just does not seem to be enough time in the day for all these events to have taken place.
The Kli Yakar explains that the first thing Moshe wanted to do was tell over the mitzvah of the Mishkan, however, he was worried that someone might donate something which was involved in a dispute as to who it belonged. In order to avoid this, he sat and judged every case so that all monetary disputes would be settled and then anything could be donated to the Mishkan without any doubts as to its ownership. After he finished judging, he then told Bnei Yisrael to donate. The donations were given over several days. He proves this from the pasuk later on which says, “קְחוּ מֵאִתְּכֶם תְּרוּמָה לַי־הֹוָ־ה” “Take from yourselves a portion for Hashem” (35:5), specifically from that which is yours.
The Kli Yakar also offers a deeper explanation of this pasuk. He explains that the word “וַיַּקְהֵל” does not refer to simply any gathering of people, but specifically a gathering of people who have joined together and want to be together with each other. In order for Bnei Yisrael to build the Mishkan together, they had to be a united group; therefore, Moshe gathered them together the day after Yom Kippur, which is the day on which we join together and become one people. At this time, it was very easy for Moshe to gather them together as the nation was still fully united after the Holiday.
However, the unifying effect of Yom Kippur does not extend to monetary disputes and without intervention Bnei Yisrael would soon fall out of this unified state. So Moshe spent that day judging everyone’s arguments in order that Bnei Yisrael would become united on all fronts. Once we were united as both brothers and businessmen, the construction of the Mishkan could really begin, for now the Mishkan would truly be a group endeavor.
(This is also why after this time we find several other places where Moshe gathers Bnei Yisrael using “וַיַּקְהֵל”. From this point on they were constantly in a state where this type of gathering was possible.)
The Kli Yakar concludes with a vort from the Zohar. After Moshe gathers the people but before he tells them to build the Mishkan, he tells over the halachah of not lighting a fire on Shabbos. The Zohar explains that this is in fact referring to the fire of Machlokes. We are more susceptible to arguing on Shabbos since we do not have any work do distract us, therefore the pasuk reminds us specifically to not argue on Shabbos. This is also true for us, Machlokes is so damaging, we must make sure that we are not burned by its’ fire. When we are united as one people, we can accomplish so much. We can even build the Mishkan, and in the future, the Beis Hamikdash, the building which houses the Shechinah of Hashem.
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