Here, Modia direct access:
1. To begin with 2. Torah * 3. Talmud 4. Shabat 5. Holydays 6. Prieres 7. Halakha
8. Our Sages 9. Calender 10. Personnel 11. Israel 12. Origins 13. You & us 14. Help
15. Hebrew 16. Jerusalem 17. Nations 18. Poems * 19. Drawings * 20. Photos * 21. Songs *
Our Sages
Bé'hayé Chla Haïm ben Attar Rachi Others Occidentaux Orientaux
Education Fraternité Conversion Histoire Shoa Tsedaqa Techouva
Mariage Famille Women Nom Circoncision Stages of life Bar mitsva
Lexique Conseils Livre d'or Students Israelis web sites Diaspora Alya 13. The Author *

Look for a subject on the site with Google

Look here study topics on the site by a catalog of photos

Part 1

In french

- A Beth Hamidrach on the web!
- What is this web site for?
- How to study with your heart
- Beginners in Torah

Part 2 : TORAH,

- All 54 parashiot
Commentaries by Rav Yehoshua Rahamim Dufour based on the books of our Sages

- Song of Songs
How to successfully develop from the stage of nitsan
(the bud) to that of the adult (Jewish education and personal Jewish development)

Part 3

16 basic classes on the Talmud
In french

Part 4

Part 5

- Had gadya

In french

Part 6

Part 7

Part 8

In french

Part 9

Part 10

- New year of beauty
- Happiness

In french
- Education
- Couple and Family

Part 11

In french
- The jewish flag

Part 12

In french

- Family names
- Ketubot
- Genealogy

Part 13 to 21

You will find them on the right part of this page

A web site on how to study and live
Judaism, Torah and Talmud


Parasha No. 22
Vayakhel: “He assembled”

Shemot (Exodus) 35,1 - 40, 38

The meaning of actions we do not carry out on Shabbat

- Summary of the parasha
- Themes in the parasha
- Mitzvot

- Linguistic study of the peshat, the basis of all
- Torah study

III. Study according to the midrash
- The role of Shabbat in this plan
- The Jewish people must live in our land in harmony with Hashem, with nature and with the ethos of the sanctuary.
- 8 examples of the links between creation and the sanctuary.
- From Torah study to real life
- Application to our lives: space.
- Application to our lives: time
- All levels of existence are inter-connected in Jewish life.
- But are the Jewish people capable of fulfilling such a plan?
- How?

IV. Personal exercises
- Study for advanced students
- The meaning of work and its
- connection to Shabbat.

Listen parasha Vayakhel
to (ORT link)
teamim Ashkenazim

Listen to the haftara
of Vayakhel
(ORT) teamim Ashkenazim


Summary of the parasha

This parasha teaches us the order of the universe, temporal laws, and our role in this context: to "assemble"
to be together in holiness,
to act accordingly within space (to live according to the ethos of the sanctuary),
and within time (according to the ethos of Shabbat),
according to the model given by Hashem,
in a mutual relationship (reciprocating the great gift he has given us).
This is the material which we will study.
It is not surprising that this parasha is read after the festival of Purim which revealed to us that, despite all the difficulties faced by the Jewish people and by each of us personally, the order of the world is governed by the goodness of the Creator.
It is important not to lose awareness of this, once Purim is over.
In this context, after having understood that we do not dwell in the home of those who pretend to rule the world, this parasha teaches us that we dwell in our own home, in a magnificent place called the mishkan or mikdash (place of residence and of holiness). God says: I shall be "mikdasheh" by them, which means, I shall reside within them (literal translation of the Hebrew).

The Torah is not in the heavens but in our world.
Parasha Vayakhel invites us to live at the highest level of existence.
And to be together, men, women and children; living as individuals and as a community.
When foreign dignitaries visit Israel, their statements are always made with a view to safeguarding their relations with the Arab world. If they dare to make an anti-Arab statement (such as when Prime Minister Lionel Jospin called the Hisbolla terrorists), stones are thrown at them and they have to make a quick return home.

Here, men, women and children do not run when stones are thrown at them. They remain here and fight the terrorists.
Assembled together, our hearts go out to these young people and their parents who are fighting daily for our homeland.
Here, with the permission of his family, is the story of Yedidya Gefen.

Yedidya was born in Jerusalem on the 14th of Heshvan 5740, 20 years ago. He studied at the Himmelfarb secondary school. A dedicated educator, he led a group of Bnei Akiva scouts, young, religious zionists.
Like many other Israelis, Yedidya wanted to defend his country and his people against terrorist attacks. He was serving on the Lebanese border in a combat unit, in which he had chosen to serve out of idealism. He was both a soldier and a medic in his unit. Here is his picture.

What were all of us doing on Sunday the 30th of Shevat? Israelis were back at work after Shabbat. Modia's commentary on parasha Teruma was put on the site. On the border, the hisbollah attacked. Yehidya's unit fired back. Many were wounded. Under fire, Yedidya ran to help the wounded. He saved Avi, then David, then Assaf. His comrades owe their lives to him. But he was fatally wounded. As is written in parasha Teruma, Shemot 25, 2: "of every man whose heart maketh him willing ye shall take My offering."
Yehidya died for us. These young men have chosen to be our living shields. Yedidya sacrificed himself, not out of a sense of obligation, but out of a deep sense of who he was as a Jew and as an Israeli. He was loved for his modesty and courage. He fought so that his people could live at the level of Vayakhel.

Themes of the parasha
The parasha continues with the ordinances governing the sanctuary, which is to be built through the gifts of the people and then describes the construction of the sanctuary and its utensils.

There is only one mitzva in this parasha, the 115th, which is the prohibition against lighting a fire on Shabbat (lo tevaaru esh.. beyom haShabbat, Shemot 35, 3).

B. Interpretation according to the peshat, the basis of all Torah study
The peshat is the literal meaning of a text, and is similar to the foundations of a house; the Torah, says Rashi, is never far removed from the peshat, even when we have a duty to learn the other levels of meaning.
There are many words in Hebrew which mean "assemble" and it is important to know all the different nuances and the significance of the word vayakhel, used in this parasha. Let us look at the different nuances and learn them:
the verb kalal means to assemble in a general context: the klal is a general rule. Its opposite is the prat, the particular. A kollel gathers together people who have a common goal.
the verb assaf means to assemble in a particular place for purposes of protection and conservation; an asefa is a meeting of professionals or others;osef is a collection of objects, papers, materials. This word is also used for gathering one's strength. To assemble, in this sense, is lehitasef.
the word kenes means a gathering together; a kenes is a congress or conference of people who have been invited to participate. To gather together, in this sense, is lehitkanes.
the verb ganaz means to assemble together in a hidden place; a geniza is the place where precious, ancient documents are stored.
the verb haver means to assemble through a common link; a hevra is a meeting of people who are tied by friendship or a common goal.
the word kate means to assemble in a limited way; a kate is a sect.
the word eda means to assemble according to a common origin: an eda is an ethnic community, such as the eda of Ethiopian Jews, etc.
the word tzibur means to assemble an anonymous public: the tzibur is the public.
the verb kabetz means to assemble in a centralized way: a kibbutz is the place which assembles different people who have a common goal. One uses the term kibbutz galuyot to describe the coming together in Israel of dispersed Jews. To assemble, in this sense, is lehitkabetz.
the verb shama (to listen) means to "grasp morally" and to assemble by convoking together as in the I Samuel 15, 4 and 23, 8. The verb zaak has the same meaning.
the word im means with, and the word am (which has the same spelling) means a group of people who have a mutual sense of identity: the Jewish people, haam hayehudi.
the verb kalat means to assemble by picking or harvesting. It also means, I have "grasped" and understood what you said.
the root laked signifies the idea of tying together in a bundle; we speak of the likud as a political party united together. Lelaked means to assemble together for a noble cause. The assembler is a melakked or a lakhdan. To assemble, in this sense, is lehitlakhed.
the word hamon means an anonymous crowd.
the root kahal means an assembly of important people; a makhela is a chorus, assembled together for the beauty of song. In synagogue, the person who addresses the assembly declares kahal kadosh venekhmad, holy and pleasant assembly. The kehila is a congregation. The rosh hakahal is the respected president of the congregation. The kehilia is a commonwealth, republic or a community bonded by a common language. Kehal hatsofim is an assembly of spectators. Daat hakahal is the opinion of the public. Hitkahalut is a group which assembles for political purposes in the street.

Why have I listed all these words and asked readers to learn them? It is because Judaism lays out a concrete code for the coming together of men. Some people, mistakenly claim that this is a moral code, unrelated to the concrete life or mission of the Jewish people. Judaism, in fact, aims to unite men together in the best of all possible worlds, not for "his" sake, but to gather men together under the source of divine benediction. There is not some imperialist doctrine or one that promises gain. It is purely for yirat shamayim, the fear of Heaven, tzniut, humility and kehuma, service: it means to be the cohen who brings the light of benediction to the world for the good of everyone. We can see here from where Jews derive their desire to help others in whatever country they live and their will to fight for civil rights. They have been accused of "being everywhere," which is correct. They have been given this mission but they must first live according to the Torah, together, in a unity which consists in the Torah, the land of Israel, and adherence to the Jewish people and to Shabbat. This is a single reality, which we shall discover now.

Then there is the form of the word vayakhel, which is in a hifil, a grammatical form which means "to make happen." Moshe made an assembly. Rashi explains the reason for this form.
The hifil is used because the children of Israel had committed the sin of the golden calf and would therefore not have gathered together out of their own free will. They would also have been troubled by Moshe's luminous presence and would have sought to run away, as we often try to run away from the Torah, because it is too divine and beautiful. They also numbered among them the erev rav, who were not bnei Yisrael and who had infiltrated themselves among the children of Israel for dishonest reasons and it is they who influenced the people away from God; this group would have rejected a simple, direct demand. In Judaism, it is not a question of assembling men together as in a political rally; the goal is to bring them together so that they will be moved by a divine presence. This is why it is so important to learn Hebrew in order to fully understand the Torah. Rashi's greatness lies in his ability to understand the essence of every word of the Torah.

Do you want to see the greatness of the plan envisaged by Moshe in this word kahal? You can see it in King David's Psalm 89, which praises the faithfulness of God and his kehal kedoshim (89, 6), the congregation of saints. You will see how every verse of this Psalm describes the universe of a Jew who is faithful to God and to his people.

C. Commentary according to the middrash
Basing himself on these two points, the Shla comments on the link between Shabbat and the sanctuary.
Note: the issues which connect these two themes are so important and so numerous in the conclusion of the book of Shemot, that I would not dare to choose one over another. I have therefore chosen to set out the Shla's main comments.

Let us study Shemot 38, 21: "elle pekudei hamishkan mishkan" (these are the accounts of the tabernacle, the tabernacle..).
According to the middrash, many teachings can be found in the repetition hamishkan mishkan, which are based on the parallel between the sanctuary in this world and the sanctuary in the world above:
1. shamayim vearetz, the heavens and the earth, are connected in the Torah.
2. there is there a force that influences us: this is the Temple, for the sanctuary in this world attracts the force of the sanctuary in the world above.
3. Hashem ensures the connection between the two (as notes Rabbenu Bahya): "bano vaniti beit zevul lakh makhon leshivtekha olamim, I have surely built thee an house to dwell in, a settled place for thee to abide in forever" (I Kings 8, 13).
4. But this is not some ethereal or mystical plan, for King Shlomo (Solomon) tells us that we can live this plan in the state of darkness (arafel), which characterizes human existence: "az amar shlomo Hashm amar lishkon baarafel, then spake Shlomo: Hashem said that he would dwell in the thick darkness" (I. Kings 8, 12).

The role of Shabbat in this plan
The role of the sanctuary is to re-establish the harmonious relationship which existed between God and man: thus through Shabbat we become participants in this "world to come" which will recreate the initial harmony. This world will be completely Shabbat ; every member of the Jewish people has a part in it. In the way Shabbat organizes time, space, personal relations and our relationship with ourselves, we can feel this world to come. Through Shabbat, the Jewish home becomes a mikdash katan, a small sanctuary. This is why the Torah and our Sages set out specific rules and prohibitions in order to safeguard Shabbat, for we cannot live in such a state of harmony without concrete laws. These laws help us to separate from the pre-occupations of work and daily life.
We do not invite friends without preparing for their visit. It is the same in respect of Shabbat, which is much more special.
I will now elaborate on what the commentators have written on this parasha.

The Jewish people must live in our land in cohabitation with Hashem, in harmony with nature and the ethos of the sanctuary.
The Sages stress that all that is good in this world is a reflection of the sanctuary in the world above.
Indeed, if we are this place-sanctuary (as in Shemot 15, 17: "makhon leshivtekha paalta Hashem" (translated literally: a place in which to dwell You have made, Hashem), the word mishkan (dwelling place), which has a static meaning, can also be understood as something dynamic, mekhuvan (directed), as midrash Tanhuma writes on Pedukei ch. 2.

The centrality of the Temple
This means that our sanctuary in this world connects us in a living way with the sanctuary On High, where Shabbat and joy are supreme. We can thus understand the importance of the Temple as the center of Jewish life, prayer and history.

Let us now, through examples from the Torah, examine the connection between creation, the sanctuary and us as individuals, the goal of which is to help us discover where and how to fulfill the divine plan.

The Shla shows us that Moshe accomplished this task when he built the sanctuary, for the same expressions are used to describe Moshe's construction of the sanctuary as those used to describe the creation of the world. Middrash Tanhuma (on ch. 2 of the parasha), Rabbenu Bahya and the Shla comment on the similarity of space-time in creation and in the sanctuary.

8 examples from the Torah
Example no. 1: for the curtains
in the creation of the world, Hashem creates the heavens as a curtain: "It is he that stretches out the heavens as a curtain and spreadeth them as a tent to dwell in." (Isaiah 40, 22) and Psalm 104, 2: "who stretches out the heavens like a curtain" (note shamayim kareria).
similarly in the placing of the curtains of the sanctuary: "And thou shalt make curtains of goats'hair to be a covering upon the tabernacle" (veasita yeriot izim leohel izim al-hamishkan, Shemot 26, 7).
It is important to feel and perceive in a deep way the implications of this parallel in creation and in life. As we have seen, our mission is to dwell with Hashem, man must reflect the glory and beauty of Hashem in his deepest being and in his appearance, even in his garments (cf. preceding parasha). Thus, the organization of his dwelling and his curtains should reflect the organization of the divine world as the common dwelling place of joy.

Example no. 2: for water
In the story of creation, it is written: yikavu hamayim, "let the waters be gathered" (Bereshit 1, 9);
similarly, for the sanctuary, it is written: veasita kior nehoshet, "thou shalt make a laver of brass" (Shemot 30, 18).

Example no. 3: for the light
In the story of creation, it is written: yehi meorot, "let there be lights" (Bereshit 1, 14).
similarly, for the sanctuary, it is written: veasita menorat zahav taor, "and thou shalt make a candlestick of pure gold" (Shemot 25, 31.

Example no. 4: for the birds
In the story of creation, it is written: veof yeofef, "let fowl fly" (Bereshit 1, 20);
similarly, for the sanctuary, it is written: vehayu hakeruvim preshei khenafim, "and the cherubims shall stretch forth their wings" (Shemot 25, 20).

Example no. 5: the creation of man
In the story of creation, it is written: veyivra elokim et haadam, "And Elokim created man" (Bereshit 1, 27);
similarly, for the sanctuary, it is written: ve ata kakrev eleikha et aharon, "And thou take unto thee Aharon thy brother" (Shemot 28, 1).

Example no. 6: completion
In the story of creation, it is written: vayekhulu hashamayim veet haaretz, "Thus the heavens and the earth were finished" (Bereshit 2, 1). The potential of the world has been laid out, like a table, so that man will complete it. This is reflected in the blessing for the kiddush on Friday night.
similarly, for the sanctuary, it is written: vayekhel kol-avodat mishkan, "thus was finished all the work of the tabernacle;" the bnei Yisrael had followed every commandment given to Moshe by Hasehm (Shemot 3, 42).
Moses executed the work in every detail: vayekhal Moshe et ha melakha, "So Moshe finished the work" (Shemot 40, 33).
In respect of ourselves, we should all ask ourselves if we have finished the task demanded of us personally in the construction of a better world and if the Jewish people have finished building their nation as a sanctuary, their country, Jerusalem, the site of the Temple, etc.

Example no. 7: holiness, keddusha
In the story of creation, it is written: vayevarekh elokim et yom hashevii vayikadeth oto, "And Elokim blessed the seventh day and sanctified it" (Bereshit 2, 3).
similarly, in respect of the sanctuary, it is written: vayevarekh otam Moshe (Shemot 39, 43) and vayehi beyom kalot Moshe.. vayekadesh oto veet kol kelav, "the day when Moshe fully set up the tabernacle, and sanctified it" (Bemidbar 7, 1).

Example no. 8: for the rhythm of Shabbat
In the story of creation, it is written: ki vo shabbat, "because on this day he rested;"
similarly, for the sanctuary, it is written: sheshet yamim taase melakha uve yom hashevii yiye lakhem kodesh shabat shabaton la shem, "six days shall work be done, but on the seventh day there shall be a sabbath of rest to Hashem" (Shemot 35, 2).

From the study of the Torah to real life
This detailed study of the Torah, according to the traditional method of study, is essential in order for us to understand our history, the centrality of the land of Israel as our dwelling place, and what we must do in order to fulfill the mission given to the Jewish people for the good of all creation.
Middrash Tanhuma stops here, but Rabbenu Bahya elaborates more extensively on this point.
The parallel between our world, the sanctuary and the sanctuary On High, as we have described above, has many direct implications for us:
the two parallel levels, that of the sanctuary On High and that of the sanctuary below, are reflected in the heavens and the earth: lehodiakha sheshekula malekhet hamishkan keneged shamayim vaaretz.
a direct application of this is given to Moshe: kehu meitekhem teruma laShem (take ye from among you an offering unto Hashem.., Shemot 35, 5).
The unique mission of Jews thus applies on three levels: the sanctuary On High, the sanctuary below, and us as a sanctuary/participant.

Indeed, this parasha teaches us the order of the universe, order in time and our task in this context, which is to follow the model given to us by Hashem, in a relationship with Him that reflects the great gift He has given us.

Rabbenu Bahya then urges us to apply this rule in many ways (mi tokh ha clal ha ze she lamadnu nukhal lehadesh ulehotzi ktzat min hapratim): he applies this first to the issue of fertility:
in creation: "these are the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created" (Bereshit 2, 4);
in the sanctuary: "for the cloud of Hashem was upon the tabernacle.." (Shemot 40, 35).

Application to our lives: space
Personal reflection
The aim, in all this, is not to propagate some abstract theory. Our Sages teach us that the aim of the knowledge and laws we have been given is that we should apply them in our lives: "asher bara Elokim laasot" (translated literally: which God created to be fulfilled, Bereshit 2, 3). The Shla calls this Derekh hayim, way of life.

The commentaries of our Sages on these parallels raise some important questions:

" what about the light in our lives, is it strengthened every day as was the case with Aharon?
" what about our ability to safeguard Hashem's presence within our lives, as a constant force and presence? As it is said: "ve atem hadevakim be Hashem Elokekhem hayim kulkhem hayom, Ye that cleave unto Hashem your God are alive every one of you this day" (Devarim4, 4).
" what about the tension in our wings and our ability to go towards the other person (like the cherubs in Shemot 37, 9), is there movement, is there the presence and word of Hashem in this place which is that of the Shekhina, the divine presence?
" What about our mission to fulfill Hashem's dream for His people and for His creation?
Tradition obliges us to ask these questions, as in the Pesah Haggada. The poet Jean-Jacques Goldman rightly said: "I shall fulfill all of my dreams." Do we as Jews individually and as the Jewish people collectively fulfill all of the dreams of our Creator?

Application to Israel, our space
Many of us feel that our nation, Israel, has become imbedded in petty quarrels and has lost many of the ideals of its founders. The reason for this is that we built the nations without adequately paying attention to the beacon and the source of all this reconstruction. We are too much concerned with the superficial issue of "land" in terms of what is defensible and what is not. Traditions teaches us that much more is at stake and that the issue is not simply of being able to defend ourselves in order to live with a ceasefire or in peace with our neighbors. Our task is to discover the "nature" of "this" place, "its" power as a source of life, "its" character as a place of meeting and radiance.

One often hears people lament that there is a sense of cultural "emptiness" in Israel today and that Israelis want to be "like" other nations, like the rest of the world.
The fact is that it is silly to accuse people of lacking awareness of their culture when the education system teaches them so little about their own tradition and values. This is the result of having lived in exile in other countries, having undergone persecution and been pressured to assimilate.
The task now is to REGAIN AWARENESS of our own home and our own heritage. We need to re-found our common home, to share as within one family and not to disparage others. This is the goal of the modia site.
The time spent in arguments and confrontation should be used to draw together from this source of life. There are many who have knowledge of this source. It is their duty to share it.

The images of the land of Israel on this site and the image of Moshe on the homepage should be viewed in this context.
Israel can then become the heart of a living body and not just a dreamland, a vacation site or place of retirement, but "the home which is the basis and source of our existence."

Application to our lives: time
In the last page of his commentary, the Shla elaborates on a concrete example of the application of these teachings: the prohibition against lighting a fire on Shabbat (lo tevaaru esh.. beyon haShabbat, Shemot 35, 3). This, of course, refers to lighting a "real" fire (this is the literal meaning called the peshat), but it is also a commandment to avoid anything that resembles anger or inter-personal conflict on Shabbat. This is in order to create on Shabbat a state of harmony with divine benediction.
We now understand why Aharon, the high priest, is called a "man of peace," and why he wore on his heart 12 precious stones, representing the 12 tribes of Israel.

In Jewish life, all levels of existence are inter-connected
Men today are primarily interested in technology, but they express surprise when it is used to destroy and to carry out genocide. The problem stems from the fact that they have separated the different levels of existence. Rabbenu Yosef Caro demonstrates that R. Elisha ben Abuya erred when he tried to present the universe as made up of separate entities. True, the world On High is entirely good and can never be damaged, while the world of human relations has been damaged by our sins and has become opaque like Adam's skin, which lost its radiance after the fall. Man harms himself. But we have the ability of making this world a holy place and a place of true encounter between men.

We now understand better what is demanded of the bnei Yisrael during the construction of the sanctuary so that Hashem can "dwell among them" and what is demanded of us as human beings - to live a full live in harmony with creation.
Every day Jews are urged to listen: shema Yisrael, Hear O Israel.

But are the Jewish people capable of fulfilling such a plan?
Let us look at Moshe, who is given to us as an example of courage and determination.
1. It is written in Shemot 39, 33: "and they brought the tabernacle unto Moshe, the tent, and all its furniture (veyaviu et hamishkan..). Rashi comments: "because they were not able to erect it (this is truly our problem as individuals, families, and as a nation)…no one could erect it because of the enormous weight of the boards which no one could lift up."

2. So Moshe erected the sanctuary.
Moshe, according to Rashi, had asked Hashem: "how can the sanctuary be erected by the hand of man?" (eikh efshar akamato al yede adam?).
Hashem answered: "carry out the work by your own hand (assok ata beyadekha) and it will seem to you that you erected it" (niree kemekim).

3. Indeed, it is through man's actions, that the sanctuary was erected and built by itself (vehu nizkaf vekam meelav) and this is the meaning of Shemot 40, 17: "and it came to pass that… the tabernacle was reared up" (vezehu she neemar hukam hamishkan hukam meelav middrash).

We have a duty to do three things, according to Middrash Tanhuma:
to study the Torah and develop all levels of existence,
to be humble and trust in He who gives us everything,
and to act: "carry out the work by your own hand (assok beyadekha veata mare lehaamido vehu omed meelav) and it will seem that you erected it and that it reared up by itself."

We can now read again and fully understand Psalm 91 and Psalm 23: "Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of Hashem for ever" (akh tov vahessed yirdefuni kol yemei veshavti beveit Hashem leorekh yamim, Psalm 23).



1. Re-read the above commentary above and identify the main points.
2. Look up the references cited in the commentary, particularly Psalm 89.
3. Study the commentary until you can repeat by heart the plan and the main themes.
4. Identify the main, existential, questions and try to answer them.
5. Return periodically to the commentary in order not to forget it and in order to remember it clearly in all its details.
6. Discover what this site tells you about the land of Israel.



What part did women play in the construction of the sanctuary, and why?
On what day was the sanctuary dedicated?
When was Moshe allowed to enter the sanctuary, and why?

Hebrew words and expressions to be learnt by heart

the mobile sanctuary, the tabernacle: hamishkan
the permanent sanctuary, the Temple: hamikdash
let there be light: yehi meorot
pure gold: zahav taor
all the work of the tabernacle: kol-avodat hamishkan
holiness: kedusha
offering: teruma
to accomplish, to do: laasot
way of life: derekh hayim
on the Sabbath day: beyom haShabbat
listen, Israel: shema Yisrael
goodness and mercy: tov vahessed


D. Commentary for advanced students

The peshat (literal meaning) is the basis of Torah study and contains all the levels of meaning, but we must study further in order to fully understand these levels. The middrash will open our minds and our hearts to these deeper levels.
The next level of study is that of the remez, allusion or suggestion. Before attempting to study this level, students must first complete the preceding stages of study, otherwise they can easily get lost or confused. The only acceptable interpretations are those transmitted by Moshe and the chain of disciples. This is an absolute rule in the study of the Torah. Devarim, chapter 30, tells us that even if someone can find the basis of his theories in the Torah and even if these are reinforced by the miracles he accomplishes, this person still remains a false prophet. The Torah is solely Torat Moshe. Those who wish to study Judaism and the Torah must relinquish all other ways of study and interpretation.
The Tur (refer to his biography) comments on the first verse of Shemot 35: "These are the words which Hashem hath commanded, that ye should do (laasot) them." The word laasot has a special form here, for it lacks the letter vav, whose numerical value is 6. The other letters in the word are lamed (numerical value 30) and the letters (taf, shin,ayin) which form the word tesha (9). This tells us specifically that the 39 labors required for the construction of the Temple will be carried out solely during the 6days of the week, and not on Shabbat.
The Tur elaborates: these labors must possess a certain quality and adhere to the Torah. Indeed, the last word of verse 3 is hashabbat and the first word of verse 4 is vayomer, and together they form the word Torah. This tells us that man must not only adhere to the teachings of the Torah in all that he does, but that the essence of the Torah is that should free himself from the worries of daily life. The source for this teaching is Tractate Shabbat 96 in the Jerusalem Talmud. This tells us that man should never abandon the level of Shabbat during the rest of the week. This connects us to the meaning of the word Vayakel in the parasha. I recently read a lengthy commentary on this parasha, attributing this idea to the modern Hassidic movement, which is a mistake for it is in fact a traditional teaching. Hence the importance of teaching the Torah through the traditional sources, going back to Moshe, for this prevents erroneous attributions such as these. It is said that he who cites sources brings geula (redemption) to the world (kol ha omer davar be shem omero mevi geula la olam. Pirkei Avot 6).

Another teaching emerges from the remez level of interpretation. When the Torah says Moshe spoke to the kahal, to whom does this refer? The Zohar II 195 tells us that this refers to men, women and children, for it is written in Devarim 31, 12: "hakel ..gather the people together, men, women and children and the stranger (ger)…" The Torah also writes that Yehoshua heard the "noise of the people" during the episode of the golden calf (Shemot 32, 17), which means that Moshe did not hear them. This teaches us about the social structure of the people. Moshe stood so high that he could not hear the people, while Yehoshua, like the moon which receives the sun's reflection, received Moshe's radiance but also was part of the darkness and could hear the dark murmurs of the people. But once the people have been pardoned and Moshe gathers all the children of Israel together, they stand at a level of purity and radiance and the impure erev rav are excluded. This is the interpretation of the Zohar. The Zohar also comments on the way the men and women were placed, for they came separately. It is from here that the custom derives of separating men and women at moments when they are vulnerable, as at funerals.

In his book Or Hahayim, Rabbi Hayim ben Attar argues that because Moshe's radiance could have kept part of the people away (Shemot 34, 30), Moshe had to gather "all the people," including women and children. Using the remez level of interpretation, he bases the separation between men and women on the use of the word "sons" of Israel in reference to all the people.
The he comments on the connection of the word laasot (which he deems superfluous) with Shabbat and refers to levels of interpretation higher than the remez which show that the verb laasot "to do" has the meaning of tikkun (to repair), as Rashi indicates in his commentary on Bereshit 18, 8. After having sinned against the Torah, the people will repair their sins through Shabbat, which includes all the Torah.

The question remains: what is the role of the erev rav (the masses who joined the children of Israel and did them harm)? The Ari zal, tells us that the numerical value of erev rav is the same as that for daat, supreme knowledge. This would mean that the process of attaining Moshe's level and the level when Moshe led the people must include this imperfect section which exists in creation and which harms the Jewish people.
A synthesis of the remez level of interpretation is given by Rabbi Yaakov Abuhatzera: Shabbat vanquishes all that is impure and a purification process takes place through the holiness (kedusha) of this day.

We shall now discover the meaning of the days of the week and of work, and their connection to Shabbat:

One) the days of the week are necessary in the same way as the erev rav is necessary -- in order to create a mixture of impurity/purity and to elevate it.
Two) the days of the week are thus an essential preparation for Shabbat and a process of reparation, tikkun.
Three) Shabbat depends on the work we have or have not accomplished during the week.
Four) every day of the week is therefore included IN Shabbat; this is the reason why the days are named thus:
the first day in Shabbat (yom rishon be shabbat), corresponds to Sunday;
the second day in Shabbat (yom sheni be shabbat) corresponds to Monday;
the third day in Shabbat (yom shelishi be shabbat) corresponds to Tuesday;
the fourth day in Shabbat (yom revii be shabbat) corresponds to Wednesday;
the fifth day in Shabbat (yom hamishi be shabbat) corresponds to Thursday,
the sixth day in Shabbat (yom shishi be shabbat) corresponds to Friday.
This is a far cry from the names of pagan gods and idols given to the days of the week in English or other languages. This helps us to understand what Tractate Ketuvot 110b says (not me, Yehoshua Rahamim): he who does not live in the land of Israel is as one who does not have Hashem, for in his daily language he automatically adopts the gods of the culture he lives in and this as though he has adopted idol worship.
Five) every day of the week is directed towards the level of Shabbat (kulam mekhuvanot keneged hashabbat) through the purification of the world which is accomplished by work. There is therefore a Jewish meaning to "work" which is not that of chasing after money or social status. This is why it is written: during 6 days you will work and accomplish all your work, for it is a commandment to do "this" work.
Six) Jews remind each other of this when they greet each other with "shabbat shalom" during the days preceding Shabbat.
Seven) Already during the week one adheres to Shabbat by preparing for it through work, and not just by preparing the meals for Shabbat. Rabbenu Yaakov Abuhatzera (alav hashalom) stresses this aspect: lakhen tzrikhim atem liyot zehirim uzerizim beshemirat shabbat karaoui ve shemirat shabbat hi teluya be sheshet yeme hahol (this is why you must be zealous and attentive in keeping Shabbat as is due and the keeping of Shabbat is dependent on the six days of the week).
Eight) In order that this should be clearly understood, the Rav adds: "and if man has not worked hard (ve im lo tarah haadam) during the 6 days of the week, studying Torah, praying and carrying out the mitzvot…how can he enter Shabbat, for the essence of the 6 days of the week is to illuminate everything that is impure. This is the meaning of the words "ele ha devarim" (these are the things/words) in the first verse of this parasha.
Nine) This is why the word kahal is used to describe the people when it attains this level, for the two highest forms for Hashem's name have the numerical value of 135, which corresponds to the word kahal, a community that is in a state of kedusha, holiness.
Ten) The work of the honored members of this community is called melakha (not avoda, work which is carried out by quasi slaves), for it comes from the word mekekh (king), melakhim (kings) who were stripped of their state of holiness almost from the beginning of creation. Judaism has a revolutionary view of history.

I shall not elaborate further, but those who study with a master can go on to other texts that treat this subject. Indeed, every Jews should learn or be shown the wealth of his heritage and history, which includes a wonderful view of man, human existence and self identity. It is senseless to turn to substitutes, to crumbs from the table, when one has at one's disposal the Shulkhan Arukh, the table that has been prepared for us.

This parasha has shown us, in just a few verses, the connections between the different levels of Torah study (the peshat, drash, remez) and personal, community and social life. This is what the Torah is about. And all this has been "given" to us. Furthermore, we have been given the commandment (mitzva) and we have the DUTY to live by the Torah and to transmit it, as is written in the first verse of the parasha.
We now understand why the 39 labors necessary for the construction of the Temple do not apply on Shabbat: we have reached the heart of the Sanctuary and we cannot regress back to the levels of the week when we were constructing the sanctuary.
The is the reason why observant Jews abstain from the 39 labors on Shabbat.
These are not prohibitions which we impose on ourselves out of religious duty. This is the choice of a people who with to live according to the Torah and their mission for the good of the world. The assumed freedom of those who choose not to keep Shabbat derives, in fact, from ignorance of the wealth of our heritage.


- Psychology and Repentance
   (in french)

Part 15

Part 16

- Jerusalem excavations
- Terror and counseling
- Peace and peoples
- Israel and Iran
- Visual study & song on snow
for, through our union with the song of nature, the plan of Creation will be fulfilled

Poem: to be moon

In french

Avec Modia, vivez
vos vacances en Israël,
Texte et photos

- Par Modia, arrivez au Kotel
- La vie du Kotel
- Prières au Kotel
- Fête au Kotel
- La destruction du Temple
- Photos rares et émouvantes des abords du Temple
- Synagogues de Jérusalem
- Maisons de Jérusalem
- Les fleurs de Jérusalem
- Ici, tout sur Jérusalem
- "Le" texte sur Jérusalem
- Voir et visiter Israël
- Voyage dans le Nord d'Israël
- Belle carte d'Israël
- Jérusalem et les nations

- Vacances en Israël sur Modia
- Le Kotel en film direct
- et ici aussi, autre caméra

- Trahison historique:
L'antique synagogue de Jéricho


Part 17

- Love towards all people
- Light in war
- Before the hanukiah
- Land of Israel
- Jerusalem excavations 2007
  Proof of the lies propagated
  by the media

In french - Hope in Israel

Part 20
"Encounters with God
in the real"

- You are planning a tour in Israel - Photos
- My photos and judaism
- New year of beauty
- Flowers
Gallery photos

Part 21

- My english songs


Rav Professor
Yehoshua Rahamim Dufour
(Dipur, in hebrew)

All images on the site are personal photos of the author, except a few specified that images are copyright External authorized
No work is done on the site during the Sabbath and Jewish holidays
- Textes et informations © Copyright Dufour