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Parashat Vayakhel

Dedicated leilui nishmat Yaakov ben Esther and

Chananya David ben Pinhas and

refuah shelemah Penina bat Yael and Keti bat Rachel

Parashat Vayakhel

Up for the Count

Last week’s Parashat Ki Tisa, discusses that Hashem wanted to count Bnei Yisrael. He also says, “Don’t count them. It’s going to cause a plague.” Hashem instructs Moshe to count the klal through a half a shekel instead. What’s wrong with counting Jews? Rabbi Jonathan Sacks A’H says that if you count Bnei Yisrael it’s a recipe for disaster and depression. Governments make censuses to show power and potential, and Jews do not even comprise a quarter of a percent of the world’s population. Hashem said “Zeh Yitnu—first give,” and then we should count what they gave. In this week’s parasha, Moshe counts the contributions for the Mishkan. They donated so much that Moshe had to tell them to stop giving. That is the power of Klal Yisrael. It’s not a matter of numbers. Count what they give the world, and you will know who they are.

Repairing the Sin of the Golden Calf

In last week’s parasha, before the sin of the golden calf, Hashem spoke to B’nei Yisrael about the importance of Shabbat. And now this week’s Parashat Vayakhel opens with, “And Moshe gathered the people of B’nei Yisrael and said to them, ‘These are the things that Hashem commanded... On six days, work may be done, but the seventh day shall be holy for you, a day of complete rest for Hashem!’” We see that the Torah brings up Shabbat again, but this time it’s discussed prior to the construction of the Mishkan. Rashi explains that this is to inform the nation of Shabbat’s magnitude, that even building the Mishkan cannot take precedence over Shabbat.

The Or HaChaim explains that idol worship constitutes a repudiation of all 613 mitzvot. Therefore, for B’nei Yisrael’s teshuvah for the golden calf to be complete, and for them to merit the Mishkan in their lifetime, they had to once again accept all the mitzvot upon themselves. Shabbat is equivalent to the entire Torah. Hashem repeated the mitzvah of Shabbat to give B’nei Yisrael the means to accept all 613 mitzvot.

The Or HaChaim continues and says that the first passuk ends with, “These are the things that Hashem commanded, to do them,” which can also be interpreted as, “to repair them” — because the commandment of Shabbat was a means to repair the damage of the sin of the golden calf!

Shabbat in Vayakhel

The Arizal says the reason that Shabbat comes right after the episode of the golden calf is because when B’nei Yisrael sinned with the golden calf, they lost the crowns they received when they had accepted the Torah with the words naaseh ve’nishmah. Those crowns brought so much beracha for health and prosperity. If we keep the Shabbat in the proper way, we will merit to get some of those crowns back!

Another Gemara in Masechet Betza (16a) says that, “Hashem placed an additional soul in all of us on Erev Shabbat and it’s taken away from us when the Shabbat ends.” In Masechet Shabbat (118a) it says that “Those who delight in the Shabbat are given a boundless inheritance which will come in Olam Habah but will reap the benefits of that gift in Olam Hazeh as well.”

In the Torah it says, “On six days, work may be done, but the seventh day shall be holy for you, a day of complete rest for Hashem! Whoever does work on it shall be put to death. You shall light no fire in any of your dwellings on the Shabbat day (35:2).” The Shabbat laws were already mentioned in greater detail in last week’s parasha (31:12-17). The repetition this week, at the beginning of Vayakhel, seems redundant. Why is it necessary to begin the section dealing with donating money to the Mishkan with this brief preamble about Shabbat?

Many commentaries deal with this question. Rav Naiman notes in his Sefer Darkei Mussar a peculiarity in the expression “Sheshet yamim taaseh melacha,” which literally means “six days WORK SHALL BE DONE.” A more common expression, as we indeed find elsewhere in the Torah, is “Sheshet yamim taaseh melachtecha” which means “For six days YOU SHALL DO YOUR WORK.” It is peculiar to use the passive form of the verb for doing work. The Darkei Mussar suggests that by use of this expression, the Torah is teaching us a fundamental rule for anyone who is engaged in earning a livelihood. The amount of money a person makes is NOT commensurate with the amount of effort he puts into his job.

Intentions are extremely important. A person is indeed required to try to earn a living and support a family. One who does not make that effort and expects “maan” from heaven will be disappointed! However, it is flawed to make the equation that “The more work I do the more money I will make.” It does not work like that.

The Almighty decides what each of us should earn. We can exhaust ourselves in our professions and either we will not succeed in earning as much as we feel we should earn or we perhaps will earn all that money and then lose it due to unforeseen expenses or poor investments, or a variety of other “unforeseen circumstances.” On the other hand, one can exert the right amount of effort and the Almighty may bless the actions of his hands to earn large sums of money, far greater than others who work much harder.

This is a fundamental belief in our religion and it really is what Shabbat observance is all about. Common wisdom is, “Of course if one works seven days a week, he will make more money than if he works six days a week.” And yet, the Torah commands us to work only six days. If the Almighty wants to bestow upon us a certain degree of financial success, he will bestow it to us whether we expend six days of effort to earn it or we expend seven days of effort to earn it.

“For six days work SHALL BE DONE.” The work must be done, but one should not think “You shall do work.” The “you” is not what makes the money, it is the “He” (Hashem) allows “you” to earn a living.

There’s a famous saying that goes “As much as the Jews kept Shabbat, the Shabbat kept the Jews!” The Shabbat that we keep today and that was kept throughout the generations is the secret that preserved the Jewish nation until this very day.

A New Path

Over the past few weeks, I have personally witnessed the growth of a certain individual from my neighborhood. He went from never being shomer shabbat to closing his store for the entirety of Shabbat. Here’s his story.

My family owned this liquor store since 1941, and it’s always been run the same way. I always imagined I would continue the secular path of my parents and grandparents, but recent events stirred something inside me. A couple of weeks ago I decided I wanted to have a better quality of life. I called up a good customer and told him I want to close my store for Shabbat, but I didn’t know how to do it. “Just to do it,” he told me. That Friday I did. I closed at four-fifteen on Friday afternoon and remained closed the entire Saturday. I had begun the best chapter of my life. I felt a huge relief like my shoulders were at my knees. That Shabbat I was finally available for my family, and I was able to hang out with my daughter.

I wasn’t ready for the community’s reaction. I had more customers than ever. My phone rang off the hook, with customers telling me how proud they were of me. Customers cried, laughed, and gave me hugs and kisses, and thumbs up, saying that they were so happy for me. I felt like I now had two million football players on my team instantaneously. This change has brought me on the most unbelievable track in life, and I can feel the changes. I have never felt as good about myself as I do now. I am so proud to be a Jew.

Do Not Kindle a Fire

Moshe conveys to B’nei Yisrael G-d’s command to observe Shabbat, and he specifies the particular prohibition against kindling a flame. “Do not kindle fire in any of your residences on the day of Shabbat (35:3).” Rabbi Mansour asks why Moshe would single out this specific prohibition.

He answers that this verse alludes to the fire of anger. While we are to always strive to avoid anger, this is especially important on Shabbat, and so Moshe warns in this verse that we not “kindle” the “fire” of anger on Shabbat.

Whenever we prepare to do something great, the Satan tries to sabotage the undertaking. This is one reason given for the custom to break a glass at a wedding ceremony. Knowing that the Satan will try to disrupt this sacred, precious moment, we offer the Satan a “bribe,” breaking an expensive glass, as though telling the Satan, “Here, something went wrong, something valuable was broken. You got what you wanted, so now leave us alone.” This true of Shabbat, as well. The Chida wrote that there is a special yetzer hara that sets in during the final few hours before Shabbat on Friday afternoon. Knowing the immense spiritual benefits of Shabbat, the Satan slyly steps in to interfere on Friday afternoon in order to create tension and strife in the home.

Electricians and plumbers can attest that more ovens break and there are more leaks and clogs in Jewish homes on Friday than on any other day of the week. This is very real, and it is no coincidence. This is the Satan trying to arouse anger and tension in the home to prevent us from receiving the precious spiritual blessings that Shabbat offers us.

Let us commit ourselves to foil the Satan’s weekly scheme by being especially patient and calm on Erev Shabbat. By avoiding anger we can then receive the great benefits of Shabbat and bring Hashem’s presence into our homes.

Honoring Shabbat

A girl from a non-observant family had become a ba’alat teshuvah. Her father was in the retail lighting business, and each of his children was required to work one day a week in his store. It so happened that this girl’s turn fell on Saturday. She was torn between her father and Shabbat, not knowing which to honor.

Finally, she decided that she would honor her father – but in her own way. Every Saturday morning, she walked to the store and politely stood behind the counter waiting for customers. However, when they asked her how much an item cost, she quoted prices so preposterous that the customers immediately walked out. The girl was very satisfied; she obeyed her father, but never made a single sale. This was her way to make sure she was never mechalelet Shabbat.

After three weeks, her father began to wonder why he was doing zero business on Saturdays. He decided to spy on his daughter. Just then, a man entered and inquired about a $180 chandelier. “That chandelier is very special,” the girl said. “It costs $1,000.” The man said the price was too high and he left. Her father enraged yelled, “Why did you do that?! Do you know how much money you’ve lost me?” The next day, the father was surprised to see the same man walk back into the store. “I realize that $1,000 is a lot of money,” he said, pointing to the $180 chandelier, “but I really had my heart set on it. I looked all over the city for one like it and found nothing else. So here,” he added, reaching for his checkbook, “I’l1 give you $1,000 for it, all right?”

Stunned, the shopkeeper sold him the chandelier at its true price. He then called his daughter and announced that he had witnessed a supernatural event. “It came from Shamayim,” he said, and it imparted a profound message. “From this day forward,” he declared, “the whole family will be shomer Shabbat, like you.”

May we all learn to appreciate the Shabbat and keep it to the highest standards that we possibly can, because it is the true source of all our berachot. May we also see the fruits of our Shabbat berachot through the Shabbatot that we enjoy with our children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren! May we all stay safe and healthy and have an easy time ahead of us in the coming weeks and years! Amen!

Shabbat Shalom!

Rabbi Amram Sananes as written by Jack Rahmey

Discussion Points:

· Do we treasure Shabbat as much as we do our earthly possessions?

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Le’ilui Nishmat…

Eliyahu Ben Rachel

Rabbi Shimon Chay Ben Yaasher

Avraham Ben Garaz

Sarah Bat Chanah

Esther Bat Sarah

Avraham Ben Mazal

Shulamit Bat Helaina

Rabbi Meyer Ben Chana

Rahamim Ben Mazal

Batsheva Bat Sarah Esther

Rafael Ben Miriam

Ovadia Ben Esther

Rav Haim Ben Rivka

Moshe Ben Mazal

Moshe Ben Yael

Yitzchak Ben Adele

Avraham Ben Mazal

Meir Ben Latifa

Chanah Bat Esther

Yaakov Ben Rachel

Malka Bat Garaz

Moshe Ben Garaz

Avraham Ben Kami

Yaakov Ben Leah

Mordechai Ben Rachel

Chacham Shaul Rachamim Ben Mazal

Natan Ben Rachel

Saadia Ben Miriam

Eliyah Ben Latifa Simhon

Margalit Bat Mazal

Ovadia Haim Ben Malaky

Rabbi Aharon Chaim Ben Ruchama

Luratte Bat Masouda

Esther Bat Menucha

Uri Ben Rahel

Rivka Bat Dona

Shalom Ben Zahra

Rachel Bat Sarah

Refuah Shelemah…

Rachel Bat Devorah

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