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Dvar for Vayakhel (Exodus 35:1-38:20)

In this week’s Parsha, Vayakhel, we learn about Moshe gathering the Jews (on G-d’s command) to tell them about keeping Shabbat. Describing the laws of Shabbat, G-d says that ordinary work should “be done” for six days, and Shabbat should be holy, and should be used for rest. Two questions emerge: 1) Why gather the Jews for this particular law? And 2) why the strange wording of work “being done”?

One possible answer is that work shouldn’t be done for the purpose of doing it, but rather so that it gets done. Too often people get caught up in their job or work, and fail to realize what it is they’re working for. That’s why G-d installed Shabbat, to re-focus our perspective on what our real goals are and should be. Taking it a step further, even when the work is building the Mishkan for G-d to dwell in (a holy and noble cause on its own) G-d made sure everyone heard first-hand (hence the gathering) that the main goal is not to work or build it, but the completion of the work so we can focus on its function and purpose. We too should train ourselves to take time out every Shabbat to reflect on our life’s purpose and goals, as well as how we intended to reach those goals.