Aliya-by-Aliya Parshat Va-yak-al/P'kudei 5759

Numbers in [square brackets] are the mitzva-countof the Sefer HaChinuch. Other counts differ.

Kohen First Aliya - 20+9 p’sukim (35:1-29)

Moshe gathers the People (according to tradition this took place on the “first Yom Kippur” or the day after, following his second (or third) 40 day period on Har Sinai to receive the second set of Luchot and G-d’s forgiveness for the People) and reiterates the prohibition of Melacha on Shabbat.

[SDT] In the opening 3-pasuk parsha of Vahakhel, which is the”reminder” of the supremacy of Shabbat, there are 39 words until the final word: HaShabbat. This is a symbolic reminder of the 39 categories of Melacha, creative acts, which make up the halachic character of “the Shabbat”. The Baal HaTurim adds that the word “LA’ASOT”in the phrase: “these are the items that G-d commanded TO DO”, is made up of the letters LAMED (30) and the word TEISHA (rearranged), which means 9 - a further allusion to the 39 categoies of Melacha. The letter missing from that word is VAV, which represents the 6 days of the week when Melacha is permitted.

[SDT] The first times the Torah deals with Shabbat, was to forbid “personal” work on Shabbat; this time (and in Ki Tisa), it is to forbid even the holy task of constructing the Mishkan. Specifically, the kindling of fire on Shabbat is forbidden.

Since this is already included in the general prohibition of Melacha (from commandment #4 in Parshat Yitro), the Sefer HaChinuch teaches us that this prohibition applies to Sanhedrin which may not execute by “burning” (or other methods) on the Shabbat (114), nor may they carry out any punishment on Shabbat. This guaranteesthat EVEN for the convicted “felon”, Shabbat is a day of rest. This focus on one of the 39 categories of Melacha is also used by the Talmud to teach various principles that apply to ALL Melachot.

This is one of the 13 Talmudic principles of analysis of Torah text: “Something that was part of a general rule, that is extracted from the general and mentioned separately, does not come to teach us only about itself, but about the whole genral class of items.”

This is only one of the suggested teachings from this passage.

Aside from the opening three p'sukim of the sedra, the remaining text is devoted to the actual construction of the Mishkan. In Parshat T’ruma, G-d commanded Moshe to build, here that command is put into action. In both places, the details are presented. Moshe tells all the People to give with an open heart towards the collectionof materials for the building of the Mishkan and the fashioning of the Kohen’s garments: gold, silver, copper, dyed wools, skins, wood, oil, spices, precious stones. Moshe also calls for volunteers to do the actual work, as will be needed. The different components of Mishkan construction are then enumerated.

Commentaries explain that the BIGDEI HA'S'RAD were not garments, but rather the special fabric coverings for the Aron, Menora, Shulchan, and Mizbei'ach that were used during transport of the Mishkan.

Many People are moved to generously respond to Moshe’s appeal for materials. Additionally, talented men, and more so women, volunteered unstintingly for the tasks at hand. the leaders of the tribes supplies the precious sotnes, spices and oils.

Levi Second Aliya - 12+12+35 p’sukim (35:30-37:16)

Moshe tells the People that G-d has designated Betzalel (from Yehuda) and Oholiav (from Dan) as the chief artisans of the Mishkan. They have been divinely inspired with intelligence, insight, and skills necessary for the various intricate tasks ahead. They and their assistnas supervised the collection of the materials fromthe People and inform Moshe that they have more than enough. Moshe “gives out the word” that the people shoudl cease their donations of materials.

Next the Torah describes the construction of the wallboards of the Mishkan from acacia wood. The walls were made of 48 boards, 20 each on the long north and south walls, and 8 on the western wall, (The eastern wall consisted of a curtain suspended from posts.) Each wallboard was inserted into two silver foundation sockets.This type of construction was perfectly suited to the topography of the wilderness. A woven curtain (similar to the Mishkan and the Masach - entrance curtain) formed the partition between the “Hall” and the “Holy of Holies”. This curtain was called the Parochet and is the forerunner of today’s covering of the Aron Kodesh.

The supertructure of the Mishkan thus completed, Betzalel next builds the Aron. Made of wood with gold on the inside and outside, it is closed off at the top by the Kaporet, a solid gold lid with the two K’ruvim formed from it. The Table and its vessels were then constructed.

Sh'lishi Third Aliya - 13 p’sukim (37:17-29)

The golden Menora is next described. With the possible exception of the 7 oil cups, the entire Menora, its branches and decorations, was hammered from a single piece of gold. Interesting side-note: The Menora is allowed to be made of metals other than gold, if gold is unavailable or impractical. In which case, the requirements of “Miksha Achat” (a single hammered out piece) does not apply. Neither is there the requirement of the special decorations of the cups, flowers, and orbs. This makesconstruction of the Menora much easier. And in fact, such a Menora exists. It is made of silver, “regualtion size”, ready for use in the Third Beit HaMikdash, until one will be made of gold, with full detials in force.

The Golden Altar, also known as the Incense Altar and the Inside Altar is next described. Following which, the Torah describes the compounding of the anointing oil and the incense.

R'vi'i Fourth Aliya - 20+12 p’sukim (38:1-39:1)

This Aliya bridges the two sedras. R'vi'i always is.

The Outside Altar used for almost all of the Korbanot, was constructed of acacia wood and plated with copper. This Altar was considerably lager than the Golden one.

Next, the Washing Basin and its Stand were made from copper. Tradition tells us that the daughters of Israel donated their copper mirrors to the Mishkan and at first, Moshe was appalled with the idea. G-d told Moshe that this particular gift was most precious to Him because it represented the perseverance and morale-buildingof the Israelite women in Egypt who beautified themselves for their husbands, flourished and made us worthy of redemption.

Next described is the courtyard of the Mishkan formed by linen curtains hung from wooden posts decorated with solver. The entrance to the courtyard was woven from the same materials and with simialr designs to the Mishkan, Parochet and Masach. The stakes to which the courtyard curtains were attached were made of copper.

The sedra of P’kudei begins with an accounting of the materials collected for use in the construction of the Mishkan and the clothing of the Kohanim.

The work of assembling and disassembling the Mishkan throughout the years of wandering in the Wilderness was the domain of the Tribe of Levi, with Itamar b. Aharon the Kohen in charge. The chief artisans of the Mishkan were Betzalel of the Tribe of Yehuda, and Oholiav of Dan. The Torah continues with the amounts of gold,silver and copper which were used in the construction of the Mishkan and its vessels. The sacred garments of the Kohen Gadol were made from three colors of dyed wool: sky blue, purple and red (opinions differ as to the exact shades of color), and white linen and spun gold.

Chamishi Fifth Aliya -20 p’sukim (39:2-21)

This Aliya contains a detailed description of the Ephod and Choshen (breastplate) of the Kohen Gadol. Both were woven from the same material and were attached firmly when worn. Two Shoham (onyx) stones were attached to the shoulder straps of the Ephod. The names of the Twelve Tribes (actually, sons of Yaakov) were engraved,six on each stone. Opinions vary as to the order in which the names appeared. One opinion is that the emblems of the Tribes were also engraved on the stones (along with the names). Some say that the name of Yosef was spelled “Y’hosef” (a spelling that appears in T’hilim), the result being 25 letters on each of the two stones. In addition to the fabric of these two garments, there were gold settings for the stones and gold rings and chain for attaching one to the other.

Shishi Sixth Aliya - 11+11 p’sukim (39:22-43)

The Me’il (a cloak, cape, or poncho-like garment) was woven completely of T’cheilet wool, Its neck-hole was reinforced to prevent tearing. This is the second time the Torah emphasized this particular detail of the Me’il. The bottom of the garment was fringed with gold bells and colorful wool pompoms. The Kutonet, a long-sleevedfloor-length garment was woven from pure linen. Some say that the sleeves were part of the weave, rather than made separately and sewn on. The Kutonet was one of the regular Kohen’s four garments as well. A turban of linen was worn by the Kohen Gadol in one style (to accommodate the wearing of the Tzitz) and by regular Kohanim in a different style.

The belt known as “Avneit” was woven from the multi-colored wools and white linen. It was exceptionally long so that it enwrapped the Kohen’s body with a thickness of fabric which he felt when his arms were at rest, thus helping him focus on his holy functions. There is a dispute among authoritiesas to whether the regular Kohen wore an Avneit similarly made or one of linen. The Tzitz, a.k.a. Nezer HaKodesh, was made of pure gold with the words “Kodesh to G-d” embossed on it. The Tzitz was worn on the forehead of the Kohen Gadol and was fastened across the top of his turban and around the sides to the back of his head by bands of T’cheilet wool.

Thus, all the work for the Mishkan was completed by the People of Israel “as G-d commanded Moshe, so they did”.

All components of the Mishkan, its vessels and the Kohen’s garments, were brought to Moshe following completion of the work by the many men and women who contributed their talents to the Mishkan. Moshe inspected all of the work and found it to be consistent with what G-d commanded to be done and Moshe blessed the People:“May it be G-d’s will that He cause His presence to settle upon your handiwork”.

Sh'vi'i Seventh Aliya - 38 p’sukim (40:1-38)

G-d instructs Moshe to erect the Mishkan on Rosh Chodesh Nissan. After the structure of the Mishkan itself was in place, Moshe was to bring in the Aron and then suspend the Parochet. Then the special Table and the Menora were to be brought in followed by the Goden Altar, all three of these vessels occupying the remainingtwo-thirds of the Mishkan. The Masach at the entrance to the Mishkan was then put in place.

The”olah Altar” (copper, external altar) was placed in front of the entrance to the Mishkan.

The Washing Basin was placed between the Altar and the Mishkan, slightly off to the side. The courtyard curtains and entrance curtain were then put in place. Then Moshe was to anoint all the parts of the Mishkan and sanctify them. He was also to anoint the Altar, its vessels and the Washing Basin. Aharon and his sons, after proper ablutions, were clothed in their special garments and anointed. Once again the Torah emphasizes that Moshe did all that G-d had commanded him to do.

The Mishkan was completed on Rosh Chodesh Nissan, almost one year after the Exodus.

Moshe offered various Korbanot on the “olah Altar”, and even filled the Washing Basin with water. When all the inaugural work of the Mishkan was completed, a heavenly Cloud descended upon the Mishkan and G-d’s “honored Presence” filled the Mishkan. Moshe was not able to enter the Mishkan until the Cloud lifted. The liftingof the Cloud was also to serve as a sign that the People were to continue their journey. When the Cloud stayed put, so did the People. “G-d’s Cloud was on the Mishkan by day and Fire by night, manifest to all of Israel.”

Maftir - Second Torah - 20 p'sukim -Sh'mot 12:1-20

This is the fourth of the Four Parshiyot. We read of the mitzva to establish the Jewish Calendar, followed by the commands concerning Pesach - the Korban Pesach, Matza, Chametz, etc.

Unlike the portions of the Torah from B'reishit until Bo in which stories of our ancestors are the main themes, and unlike the books of Vayikra and D'varim, in which mitzvot are the main themes, in this portion (as in much of Sh'mot) we find a blend of story and mitzva. Where one ends and the other begins is not alwayseasy to tell. That is, without the Oral Tradition. Do all future Korbanot Pesach have to be roasted? Or is that a requirement only for the original Exodus night? Do we have to eat K.P. with our belts tied and in haste? Or was that just then? The blood on the doorpost? Etc. Etc. The answers are clearly presented in theTalmud. The point is that the Written Word alone is not the whole Torah. this is another of many examples of this very important element of Judaism.

Haftara 28 p'sukim - Yechezkel 45:16-46:18

Sefardim read 45:18-46:15

This portion of Yechezkel contains the commands of the rededication of the “New Temple” on the first of Nissan, the dedicatory sacrificies to be brought on that occasion, and the celebration of the first of the cycle of holidays - Pesach. The first of Nissan is alluded to or actually mentioned in Parshat HaShavua, the Maftir, the Haftara, and in davening (Rosh Chodesh Benching). How’s that for highlighting a special day!

ParshaPix (page 3) Zippo (lighter) with negation circle is the prohibition of kindling fire on Shabbat. Gold bars in the upper-left are part of the materials collected for making the Mishkan. Sheep below gold is shorn for the wools to be dyed for Mishkan and K-garment purposes. Sewing machine is for the talented craftsman(and women) who did the work. The Mishkan and the K.G. are obvious. Adding machine is to tally the donated materials. Lamb is for K.P. as in Maftir. Bull is mentioned at the beg. of the Haftara.