• Daily Aliya for Vayakhel, Shvii (7th Aliya)

    Aliya Summary: The Tabernacle’s construction is capped off with the construction of the Outer Altar, the copper wash stand, the mesh curtains which surrounded the Tabernacle courtyard, and the beams and hooks which anchored them.

    The final vessel described is the Washing Basin and its Stand. It was made of copper. Tradition tells us that the copper came from the mirrors of the Israelite women. At first, Moshe did not want to accept them because of the vanity associated with mirrors. G-d, however, told Moshe how very precious this gift was in His eyes, because they reminded Him (so to speak) of the role Jewish women played in the redemption of the people from Egypt.

  • Daily Aliya for Vayakhel, Shishi (6th Aliya)

    Aliya Summary: This Aliya describes the construction of the Menora (With the exception of the oil cups, everything else – the branches, decorative orbs, cups, flowers – was hammered from one piece of gold) and the Incense Altar. The anointing oil and the incense are also prepared.

    What’s the significance of having it made of one piece of gold? Perhaps it’s to accentuate the point that it’s not the top of the branch that is most important because it holds the oil, and it’s not the bottom of the base that’s most important because it keep the Menora standing, but every piece is equally important, as is the case with every Jew and every member of society. Everyone has their roles, but we’re all one big piece of gold.

  • Daily Aliya for Vayakhel, Chamishi (5th Aliya)

    Aliya Summary: The construction continued. In this Aliya, the craftspeople construct the Tabernacle wall panels, their sockets, the curtains which covered the entrance to the sanctuary and which separated the Holy of Holies from the rest of the sanctuary, the Ark, and the Showbread Table.

    Half of this Aliya describes what Bezlalel was to do, and the second half describes Betzalel actually doing what he was supposed to do. Why not just say that he did was he was instructed? Rash says that because he put his heart into it, the Torah describes everything he did. This description isn’t for his benefit, but for us to realize that our thoughtful efforts are recognized.

  • Daily Aliya for Vayakhel, Revii (4th Aliya)

    Aliya Summary: When G-d commanded Moshe about the Mishkan, He first commanded the making of the Aron, Shulchan, and Menora. Then, the roofing layers – the Mishkan, the Ohel, and the Orot. Only then were the wall boards and foundation sockets brought into the picture. In the carrying out of the commands, a more “practical” plan was followed. The structure and then the furnishings. But how can Moshe and Bezalel deviate from the commands of G-d? You can’t just do whatever you want in this kind of thing.

    Commentaries say that Moshe and Bezalel requested and received permission from G-d to take the more human, practical approach. In this Aliya, the three layers of ceiling are presented. Note that the first layer was a beautiful, multicolored weave and the fasteners were gold. Over that came the more practical, less attractive, less complicated, weather-resistant Ohel of goat hair. This layer was not seen from inside the Mishkan, and might not have been seen from the outside either, according to the opinion that the Tachash and Red-dyed sheep skin covering (which was also attractive) was not just on top.

  • Daily Aliya for Vayakhel, Shlishi (3rd Aliya)

    Aliya Summary: Moshe announces G‑d’s choice of Bezalel and Oholiav to serve as foremen of the Tabernacle construction project, and he transfers to them all the donated materials. The people, however, continued donating generously, until the craftspeople report to Moshe that they have more than enough materials to complete their task, causing Moshe to issue a proclamation requesting everyone to cease donating materials.

    Heard from Rabbi Menachem Rottenberg, the then exec. dir. of Yeshiva of Central Queens: Look at the greatness of Bezalel (and his crew), who were able to work with the gold, silver, and copper, as well as with stone and wood. As gold craftsmen, it wasn’t beneath them to work with stone and wood, as well.

  • Daily Aliya for Vayakhel, Sheni (2nd Aliya)

    Aliya Summary: Many people are moved to give generously in response to Moshe’s appeal. Men and women all give (there are different interpretations as to what the wording in the pasuk indicates). In addition to donations, men, and more so women, donated their talents in weaving, dyeing, woodwork, metalwork, etc. Repeated reference is made to the hearts of the people being in what they were doing. This was a genuine positive response to G-d’s and Moshe’s call to build the Mishkan. The leaders of the Tribes supplied the precious stones for the shoulder-pieces of the Eifod and for the Choshen of the Kohen Gadol, and spices and oil for the Incense and the Anointing oil.

    Rashi quotes R’ Natan who explain why the leaders of the tribes took the initiative on the occasion of the dedication of the Mishkan. He says that they learned their lesson from this original collection of materials. The leaders decided to wait until the people finished giving, and then they would give what was missing. It turned out that there was almost nothing left to give because the people had given so generously.

  • Daily Aliya for Vayakhel, Rishon (1st Aliya)

    General Overview: In this week’s Parsha, Vayakhel, Moshe gathers the Jews and relays to them all the details regarding the construction of the Tabernacle and its vessels. The actual construction is also described. This Parsha repeats many of the details described in the portion of Terumah, wherein G‑d instructed Moshe how the Tabernacle and its vessels were to be constructed.

    Aliya Summary: On the day after Moshe descended from Mount Sinai with the Second Tablets, after successfully securing atonement for the sin of the Golden Calf, he gathered all the Jewish people. The primary purpose of this assembly was to inform the Jews of G‑d’s desire for a Sanctuary to be constructed. He began, however, with a brief reminder regarding the observance of the Shabbat. This was followed by a description of the materials needed to construct the Tabernacle, and a list of the vessels, Tabernacle parts, and priestly garments which were to be produced.

  • Daily Aliya for Vayakhel/Pekudei, Shvii (7th Aliya)

    Aliya Summary: G‑d instructed Moshe to erect the Tabernacle on the first of Nissan. G‑d also instructed Moshe to place all the Tabernacle’s vessels in their proper places, and to anoint all of the items with the anointing oil, thus sanctifying them. Moshe is also directed to dress Aaron and his sons in the priestly garments, and to anoint them, too. When Moshe finished this task a Cloud of Glory and the Divine Presence filled the Tabernacle. This cloud also served as the Jews’ guide throughout their desert sojourn: when the cloud lifted, the people would travel, following the cloud until it rested, where they would set up camp until the cloud would lift again.

    Rashi says that on the 8th day of the dedication of the Mishkan, Moshe and Aharon were on equal status. But only on that day. After that, Moshe is “only” a Levi, and Aharon takes over the reins. It is said that Moshe would have been the Kohen Gadol, except for the way he spoke to G-d at the Burning Bush. It was then that G-d brought Aharon to Moshe, so to speak, to share the responsibilities and privileges of leadership.

  • Daily Aliya for Vayakhel/Pekudei, Shishi (6th Aliya)

    Aliya Summary: The rest of the priestly garments were completed: The High Priest’s me’il (blue robe adorned with golden bells and cloth “pomegranates”) and tzitz (a golden band worn on the forehead, which was engraved with the words “Holy to G‑d”); and the four garments worn by both the High Priest and the regular priests: tunics, turbans, sashes and pants. With this, the construction of the Tabernacle and all its vessels and accoutrement were finished. The craftspeople brought their finished products to Moshe. Moshe saw that all the work had been done exactly to G‑d’s specifications, and he blessed the workers.

    Talmud Yerushalmi notes that the phrase, “as G-d had commanded Moshe” appears 18 times in Pekudei. Correspondingly, we have 18 brachot in our weekday Amida (the connection between Service in the Mikdash and Davening is obvious). Thus says Sh’muel b. Nachmani in the name of Rabbi Yochanan. This does not include the first time the phrase is used: And Bezalel… did all the G-d had commanded Moshe. There are differences between the context of the phrase with Bezalel and contexts of all the other uses of the phrase that justify its not being counted together with the rest. On the other hand, our Amida does have a 19th bracha, so the “extra” phrase is accounted for.

  • Daily Aliya for Vayakhel/Pekudei, Chamishi (5th Aliya)

    Aliya Summary: The High Priest’s ephod — a reversed apron which covered the back — and its precious-stone-studded shoulder straps were made. The High Priest’s Choshen Mishpat (“Breastplate of Judgment”) was assembled. It contained four rows of precious stones, each row containing three stones. Artisans engraved the names of the Twelve Tribes of Israel upon these twelve stones. The Choshen Misphat was then secured by straps which connected it to the ephod.

    The names of the 12 tribes (actually, it was the 12 sons of Yaakov) were engraved on the stones, six on each stone.

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