Shabbat-Table Talks: Vayaqhel-
Ralph Tawil <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Value: Completing God’s Creation,
Sanctifying God’s Name. What is the value of
human action? God, in his omnipotence, can accomplish whatever He wills in the
world without the aid of people. One way to look at the value of human action is
to see it as the completion of God’s creation of the world. Human action that
is in accordance with God’s will brings God more apparently into the world.
For example, God is merciful. When people are compassionate to one another, they
cause God’s purpose of compassion to be more apparent. Through this behavior,
they bring God into creation thereby “completing” creation, or at least
advancing God’s creation.
This week we read two parashiyot that describe the
construction and completion of the Mishkan. The Torah describes the Mishkan’s
completion using similar words to the way it describes the completion of
Creation of the Universe. The Torah is showing us that Man’s act of building a
“holy place” is similar to God’s act of creation. Man must realize that by
bringing holiness and God’s will into the world, he is in effect continuing
God’s creation and achieving His purpose in the world.
Compare the following verses from God’s creation of the world with the way the
Torah describes Bne Yisrael’s construction of the Mishkan.
Now God saw all that he had made, and here: it was exceedingly good… Thus were finished the heavens and the earth, with all of their array. God had finished, on the seventh day, His work that He had made, and then he ceased, on the seventh day, from all His work that He had made. God blessed the seventh day and hallowed it for on it He ceased all His work, that by creating, God had made. (Genesis 1:31-2:3)
was finished all the service for the Mishkan, the Tent of Appointment. The
Children of Israel made (it) according to al that Hashem had commanded Moshe,
thus they made. And they brought the Mishkan to Moshe: …<<a detailed
list of all the items of the Mishkan follows>>…According to all that
Hashem had commanded Moshe, thus had made the Children of Israel, all the
service. Now Moshe saw all the work, and here: they made it as Hashem had
commanded, thus had they made. Then Moshe blessed them. (Exodus 39:32-43)
and Discussion: Notice that there are similar
phrases used to describe the completion of the creation of the world and the
completion of the construction of the Mishkan (in the original Hebrew the
similarities are much more apparent.) Read the texts (in Hebrew if possible) and
ask your children and guests to notice the similarities and differences between
things are similar in these two places? (God completed the creation; Israel
completed the Mishkan’s construction. God saw that it was very good; Moshe saw
that it was done according to God’s wishes. God blessed the seventh day; Moshe
blessed Bne Yisrael.)
are the differences? (The most relevant difference is that Moshe did not
evaluate whether the Mishkan’s construction was good, only God can do that.
Moshe can only evaluate whether the Mishkan’s construction fulfilled God’s
commandment. In addition, by definition, when man fulfills God’s will, it is
did the Torah describe these two events in similar ways? (To teach us that
God’s creation of the world and Man’s construction of the Mishkan, God’s
“dwelling on earth” are similar. When man creates a place where he can
worship God and recognize His presence, he makes God more apparent in the world.
do you think God asked Bne Yisrael to make him the Mishkan? Couldn’t he have
done it Himself? (Of course, he could have done it Himself. He wanted Bne
Yisrael to reach the level of wanting to bring God into their midst. By doing
the work themselves, Bne Yisrael showed how important it was to them.
construction of the Mishkan and its inauguration leads to God having his
presence fill the Mishkan.
Moshe finished the work. Now the cloud covered the Tent of Appointment, and the
Glory of Hashem filled the Mishkan (Dwelling). Moshe was not able to come into
the Tent of Appointment, for the cloud took up dwelling on it, and the Glory of
Hashem filled the Mishkan (Dwelling). (Exodus 40:33-35)
Yisrael, through their actions of building the Mishkan, brought God’s presence
into the world in a more apparent way. Likewise, we create holiness by our
actions and attitudes. Fulfilling God’s will and following his commandments
makes God’s presence more apparent in the world. Behaving with honesty and
integrity leads to people recognizing God and the beauty of His Torah. However,
if a person learns Torah and does not behave properly with people, then he
causes people to speak bad about the Torah and profanes God’s name. See how
our wise Rabbis described both kinds of people (Yoma 86a):
you shall love Hashem, your God”—make the Name of Heaven beloved through
you. Let him read and learn (Torah) and assist Talmide Hakhamim (to learn from
their ways). When he deals with integrity and calmly with people, what do people
say about him? Happy is his father that taught him Torah; happy is his Rabbi
that taught him Torah; woe to those that do not learn Torah. That person that
learned Torah, see how fine are his actions. About him scripture says: “And He
said to me, “You are My servant, Israel in whom I am glorified” (Isaiah
However, he who reads (Torah), learns (Torah) and assists Talmide Hakhamim and does not deal with integrity and calmly with people, what do people say about him? Woe to him that he learned Torah. Woe to his father that taught him Torah; woe to his Rabbi that taught him Torah. That person that learned Torah--see how corrupt are his actions; see how ugly are his ways. About him scripture says: “They have profaned My holy name, when they said of them, “these are the people of Hashem, yet they had to leave His land” (Ezekiel 36:20).
Hashem’s will in this world, by acting properly with people and by doing the
misvot in the way that Hashem intends we make glorify God in this world.
last question: How do we know what Hashem’s will is? (By learning about
Hashem.) How do we do that? (By learning all the parts of Torah, Humash, Navi,
Talmud and Halakha; by observing the behavior of our great spiritual leaders,
our rabbis. Most importantly, we have to let what we learn and observe influence
and improve our behavior. Learning Torah must be connected with becoming better
To read last year's Table Talk click here.
If you would like to dedicate
Shabbat Table Talks in honor or in memory of a loved one, or to subscribe to
Shabbat Table Talks, send an email to email@example.com.
Shabbat Table Talks is a
publication of the Sephardic Orthodox Union.