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Parashat Vayakhel

February 25, 2022
24 Adar I 5782
Parashat Vayakhel
Exodus 35:1 - 38:20

Dear Friends,

Reb Nachman wrote:

וְדַע, שֶׁהָאָדָם צָרִיךְ לַעֲבֹר עַל גֶּשֶׁר צַר מְאֹד מְאֹד, וְהַכְּלָל וְהָעִקָּר – שֶׁלֹּא יִתְפַּחֵד כְּלָל
Know that a person needs to cross a very very narrow bridge, and what is essential is that one should not be overcome by fear.

 We are living through times that were beyond the scope of our wildest imaginings and fear; unease has become a constant companion. We struggle to find our bearings so that we can move forward each day. We do not know what tomorrow will bring and we attempt to use the tools that are at our disposal so that we can keep going. But it is difficult, and it is wearing, and we are tired.

If we are tired, worn out, and not sure what is coming next, so were the Israelites as they were encamped at Mount Sinai. Their first response to their uncertainty is to build the Golden Calf; they are in desperate need of reassurance. However, this week’s Torah portion marks a shift that we can look to in order to give us strength and hope as we go forward into the unknown, much as they did. 

Parashat Vayakhel is a powerful reminder of what can be done when we work together, each one of us bringing our best selves forward. The word Vayakhel, which means "they gathered," is used both in the Torah portion and in the one where the Golden Calf was built. These are two very different gatherings: one convened due to fear and the other one as an opportunity to build something together. Both come out of a desire to be closer to the Divine, but the second gathering comes out of what the Divine is asking of the people.

It is in the second gathering that we see the generosity that animates the people. They bring so much material to build the Mishkan that they are asked to stop bringing their free will offerings.

What we have here is an incredible example of team building. Everyone’s contribution is valued. Each one is able to say that their unique offerings helped make this happen, helped build this sacred space. 

When things seem at their worst, we become empowered when we join together and each of us bring our unique gifts to the table. Moses understood that if you want to build a team, you need a team that builds. And it cannot be a onetime thing, it takes consistency, persistence and trust.

May we have the strength to navigate the challenging times in which we live and may we remember that we are a community that builds up its members according to their unique gifts.

“And Adonai shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more." (Isaiah 2:4)

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Linda Shriner-Cahn

Sun, December 4 2022 10 Kislev 5783