Weekly Sidra: Vayakhel / Pekudei (and assembled / records)
Torah Portion: Shemot / Exodus 35:1-40:38
Maftir: Bamindar / Numbers 19:1-22 (Shabbat Parah)
Haftorah: Yechezkel / Ezekiel 36:16 – 36:36
22 Say to the House of Israel: Thus said the Lord God: Not for your sake will I act, O House of Israel, but for My holy name, which you have caused to be profaned among the nations to which you have come. 23 I will sanctify My great name which has been profaned among the nations — among whom you have caused it to be profaned. And the nations shall know that I am the Lord — declares the Lord God — when I manifest My holiness before their eyes through you. 24 I will take you from among the nations and gather you from all the countries, and I will bring you back to your own land. 25 I will sprinkle clean water upon you, and you shall be clean: I will cleanse you from all your uncleanness and from all your fetishes. 26 And I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit into you: I will remove the heart of stone from your body and give you a heart of flesh; 27 and I will put My spirit into you. Thus I will cause you to follow My laws and faithfully to observe My rules. 28 Then you shall dwell in the land which I gave to your fathers, and you shall be My people and I will be your God. (Yehezkel 36: 22-28)
This week we read Vayakhel (and he assembled) and Pekudei (records of) a double shot of Torah. We also read a special maftir and Haftarah portion for Shabbat Parah, which is the Sabbath of the Red Heifer.
Parashat Vayakhel deals with more instructions for building The Tent of Meeting. Parashat Pekudei records how much of each material (e.g. gold, copper, wool, etc) was used. We also have the reading for Shabbat Parah. How can we tie these three elements together to gain a deeper understanding?
The Haftarah portion above deals with all three aspects of serving Hashem. These are The Torah, the performance of mitzvoth (commandments) and purity of heart. The first instruction Moshe Rabeinu gives in Vayakhel is:
“Moses then convoked the whole Israelite community and said to them:
These are the things that the Lord has commanded you to do: 2 On six days work may be done, but on the seventh day you shall have a Sabbath of complete rest, holy to the Lord; whoever does any work on it shall be put to death. 3 You shall kindle no fire throughout your settlements on the Sabbath day. (Shemot 35:1-3)
The first thing Hashem commands them to do is not work on Shabbat. In other words keep the Torah and remember all the commandments.
Pekudei begins with these words: These are the records of the Tabernacle, the Tabernacle of the Pact, which were drawn up at Moses’ bidding — the work of the Levites under the direction of Ithamar son of Aaron the priest. 22 Now Bezalel, son of Uri son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, had made all that the Lord had commanded Moses; 23 at his side was Oholiab son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan, carver and designer, and embroiderer in blue, purple, and crimson yarns and in fine linen.(Shemot 38:21-23)
Hashem is a God of order and precision, not a God of chaos and disorder. That is why He wanted accurate records of everything in the Mishkan; including how much was material was used. The lesson here is simple. It is not enough to know the commandments of Hashem; we must learn to be faithful in our observance of them.
Lastly, the focus on the Red Heifer is one of purity. The ashes had to be mixed with water and sprinkled on an unclean person to make them pure before Hashem.
“A man who is clean shall gather up the ashes of the cow and deposit them outside the camp in a clean place, to be kept for water of lustration for the Israelite community. It is for cleansing.” (Bamidbar 19:9)
It is not enough to know Torah or simply perform the mitzvot, but we must do them with the proper (kavanah) intention of the heart. The Haftarah sums it up best.
And I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit into you: I will remove the heart of stone from your body and give you a heart of flesh; 27 and I will put My spirit into you.(Purity) Thus I will cause you to follow My laws (Torah) and faithfully to observe My rules (Mitzvot). 28 Then you shall dwell in the land which I gave to your fathers, and you shall be My people and I will be your God. (Yehezkel 38:26-28) Emphasis Mine
Therefore, you must have Purity of heart, knowledge of Torah, and a desire to faithfully perform the commandments. Thus, we will be His people and He will be our God.
Tags: clean water, deeper understanding, exodus, ezekiel, fetishes, haftorah, heart of stone, holiness, holy name, lord god, new heart, new spirit, red heifer, Sabbath, Shabbat, shabbat parah, sidra, three aspects, three elements, torah portion
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