(Exodus: 35:1-40:38)

(Haftara: Parshat Shekalim)

1. [35:1] “And Moshe gathered the whole community of the children of Israel”.  The midrash tells us that before the sin of the golden calf, even an individual could build the mishkan (the tabernacle)—”…any person whose heart is willing…”.  However, after the sin of the golden calf, the mishkan could only be built with the power of the community–an individual was not strong enough. Which religious activities are better carried out by the community and which are better done  by the individual?

Is charity (tzedaka) better carried out by the community or by individuals?

2.  [35:14] “The candlestick for the light…and the oil for the light.”  The Sfat Emet (1847-1905, Poland) says that the oil of the menorah represents the human mind—lucid and clear consciousness. Couldn’t the pure gold of the menorah or the sweet smell of the incense also represent the mind? Why is the oil of the menorah a better symbol for the mind?

3. [35:34] “And the ability to teach, he put into his heart…”  What qualities make up the ability to teach?

4. [35:35] “And he filled him with wisdom of heart to do craftsmanship…those who do craftsmanship and think thoughts.”  What is craftsmanship? Can a person of low intelligence be a craftsman? What qualities must a craftsman have?

5. [36:17…] “And he made 50 loops on the edge of the curtain…”  In the inner spiritual-psychological life, the mishkan (the tabernacle), represents the place where the pure service of God is done.  The furniture of the mishkan is a metaphor for acts that one does in serving God, and in one’s personal development. In the light of this, why does the Torah tell us every small detail of the mishkan?

Commentary

Bless the Lord, O my soul, who made you a singer in his holy house forever, who has given you a tongue like the wind, and a heart like the sea, who has journeyed you from generation to generation to this impeccable moment of sweet bewilderment.

–Leonard Cohen, born 1934, Canada, USA.

This study page is dedicated to the memory of Gad Eliahu ben David and Kochava—Eli ZuckerAnd this study page is dedicated to the memory of Sarah Bella bat Yitzchak Kummer, Chaim Yosef Yechiel ben Eliyahu Kummer and Eliyahu and Margaret Kummer