Vayakhel-Pekude

Special selection Shabbat Shekalim: Exodus 30.11-16; II Kings 12.1-17

The parshiot Vayakhel and Pekudei are the last two of the second part of the Torah. In both the building of the Desert Temple is described, like in three chapters before Vayakhel. But Vayakhel shows Moses challenging the people of Israel to build this sanctuary. Challenging because it is a great privilege to construct a location on earth in which the G-d of Israel has said He will dwell in. And the blueprint of this construction He has carefully conveyed to the Children of Israel via His servant Moses. There has been no other people on earth which had the honor of building a house for the one and only G-d.

At this moment we do not have a Temple. That is because a cruel and godless people, the Romans, have destroyed and ransacked it. The fact that this could happen has to do with Israel’s disobedience to Hashem and with evil which exists in this Roman empire, as our great prophet Daniel already predicted. He said: After this I saw in the night visions: a fourth beast, dreadful and terrible, and exceedingly strong. It had great iron teeth. It devoured and broke in pieces, and stamped the residue with its feet. And it was different from all the beasts that were before it. It had ten horns (Daniel 7:7). And Daniel explains: The fourth beast shall be the fourth kingdom on the earth, which will be different from all kingdoms. It will devour the whole earth and shall tread it down and break it into pieces (Daniel 7:23).

We pray daily that Hashem will bring about the Messianic era, the time when Messiah will come to reign. The Temple will be rebuilt. The need for this new era is visible in the disasters, the wars and the grave need and pain which exist in the world. And it is visible in that the exile of Jews around the world has not ended yet. May Hashem fulfill His promises of using His angels to bring all Jews back to Jerusalem soon. And that Jerusalem and the Temple may be rebuilt speedily in our days. Amen.

The builders are under the expert leadership of Betzal’el and Oholi’av. Their names express great meanings: In the shadow of Hashem, and: The Tent of Hashem. Both express their dependence on G-d’s protection. It is for that reason that Hashem says that they possess wisdom (chochmah), insight (bina, or: t’vunah) and knowledge (da’at). Someone who is wise knows he or she needs G-d’s protection and His words of righteousness, instead of self-protection and self-righteousness. Wisdom shows itself as humble but not to be toyed with, soft but not to be trampled, able to listen but not to false accusations and wrong judgments, able to comfort but only the victims and not the perpetrators, able to make distinction between right and wrong, between truth and lie. May we become wise like Betzal’el and Moses.

Shabbat shalom,
Lion S. Erwteman, Rosh Kehilla of Beth Yeshua
Amsterdam, Holland