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Torah Insights for the Younger Tzadikim
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Vayakhel 5761
March 18-24, 2001-by Reb Yosef

How Important is Shabbat?

In the Torah, whenever we see something that seems out of place, there is a reason for it.  This Parashah describes the actual building of the Mishkan (the Tabernacle).  The last three Parashot talked about the materials, the design, and how everything was to be done.  This week, the construction and assembly begins.  Yet, something else is said right at the beginning of the Parashah and there is a great deal we can learn from that. 

The Torah says (Perek Lamed-Hay - Chapter 35): 

1.      Moses assembled the entire assembly of the Children of Israel and said to them - "These are the things that Hashem commanded, to do them:

2.      "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:

3.      You shall not kindle fire in any of your dwellings on the Sabbath day.' ":

4.      Moses said to the entire assembly of the Children of Israel, saying - "This is the word that Hashem has commanded, saying:

5.      'Take from yourselves a portion for Hashem, everyone whose heart motivates him shall bring it, as the gift for Hashem - gold, silver, copper:

6.      turquoise, purple, and scarlet wool; linen, goat hair:

7.      red-dyed ram skins, tachash skins, acacia wood:

8.      oil for illumination, spices for the anointment oil and the aromatic incense:

9.      shoham stones and stones for the settings, for the Ephod and the Breastplate.':

Stone Edition Chumash by ArtScroll Publishing

Before God even begins to discuss the assembly of the Mishkan, He talks about Shabbat and about kindling a fire.  Why?  Let's consider the important of the Mishkan for a moment.  The Tabernacle was going to be a home for the Presence of God.  God would dwell among B'nei Yisrael (the Children of Israel) there.  This obviously is a very important thing - the home for God on earth.  Yet, God says the Sabbath is more important.  He was telling the people that the Sabbath must come first - even before His dwelling place here. 

Why fire?  Rav Samson Raphael Hirsch tells us that it is fire that gives us the most control over our world.  With fire, we can make tools, cook food, and do many many things.  For this reason, God specifically discusses fire so that we will recognize that although He gave us mastery over the world, we have to remember to give Him mastery over how we live in our world. 

________

Translations in Torah Portions of the week are partially taken from the ArtScroll Stone Edition Chumash and from Rav Samson Raphael Hirsch Chumash

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