EXODUS 35:1-38:20, 38:21-- End

A short summary of Vayakhel & P'kudei

You can also read previous studies on this site.

When the emperor proposed: "Let us all be one people!", Tanchuma replied: "Very well, but since we, who are circumcised, cannot possibly become like you, you become like us" (Tanchuma b. Abba, San. 39a; see The 8th Day on video at Top; cf. Max Apple's short story, The 8th Day, in Writing Our Way Home)

This study, begun in 1997, was sponsored by Rabbi and Mrs. Harvey Goldscheider of Temple Beth El, Bellmore, New York, in honor of the birth, brit and pidyon haben of their first grandson, Shalom Mordechai, born in Yerushalayim to Rabbi Aaron and Karen Goldscheider last year.

Man is the only creature on earth that has come to have knowledge of his grandparents and his grandchildren (Baeck, Judaism and Ethics, 1949, p. 18)

Purim Pugnacity

We allow little boys to be boisterously aggressive, even in the synagogue itself, on Purim-- if they're overly gentle, passive and afraid, too "spiritual", if they're raised to be pious clones of sweet nurturing little girls, they won't be able to replicate the Purim miracle of human-Divine cooperation, to form a Tzahal and defend the Jews against their enemies. Yet if they're not permeated by Torah and Divinity, by the solemn preceding Fast of Esther (which had replaced the Festival of Nicanor on Adar 13, by the 7th Century of the Common Error), they themselves can become like our enemies while fighting them-- we must remove Amalek and Chometz from ourselves too, e.g. stopping those who preach indiscriminate hatred toward all Arabs. May little Shalom Mordechai grow up to be both strong and masculine, and imbued with Torah and mitvos, as Avraham, to form his own family in Israel. May he grow up in an Israel at peace with itself and its neighbors. May his grandparents also sponsor our studies for his bar mitzva and wedding!

We must also have a two-fold response to terrorist tragedies. On the one hand we must do everything possible to punish the perpetrators, prevent future incidents, and fight their violent version of Islam, e.g.: 1) Suicide Islamists were the scourge of the Sudan under British rule. The British ended the phenomenon thru the simple device of burying them in pig skin, which, according to the fanatics' precepts, assured that they would never reach paradise. An unconventional war calls for such an unconventional response (see JP, 3/4/96). 2) Immediately build a new Jewish neighborhood in Chevron upon each attack-- while religious terrorists don't care if they die, their aim is to end Jewish settlement in Israel, especially in Chevron and Jerusalem; if they see the opposite results, they may cease. Otherwise, why should they? 3) flood the airwaves with reasonable Moslem clerics, e.g. Abdul Palazzi, who condemn terrorism, and start a strong campaign to bring Arabs into the Torah rubric and orbit, via the 7 Laws of Noah for universal mankind, now available in an Arabic booklet by Rav Yoel Schwartz of Dvar Yerushalayim. Their conversion to Reform (disembodied) Judaism, similar to the Noahide lifestyle, by proselytizing Rabbi Alexander Schindler & Co., or to Conservative Judaism, pretending to be traditional, by L.A. Rabbi Harold M. Schulweis (see JP, 11/8/96; JR, 2/20/97), might be one way to do it! 4) While I generally oppose destroying terrorist's families' homes (can we control our own family members?), it might be justified where the family idolizes the "martyr", encouraging others to emulate him (cf. rabbis who praise Jewish terrorists). If mosques are used to encourage Jihid, they should be destroyed too.

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On the other hand, as religious Jews, we can't just blame the Arabs and their own nationalist aspirations. We must examine our own lives and society to see if indeed we are creating God's model "kingdom of priests and holy nation" in the State of Israel, which is to inspire even the Arabs; at least we mustn't call each other hateful names, despite our own strong and legitimate differences of opinion. We must also treat non-Jews living here well, as long as they're peaceful. The O.T. (Only Testament) is full of instances where God let enemies invade Israel, when Israel wasn't loyal to His Torah; He also severely punished the Jews (70M died) when they deprived the Givonites of work, until David delivered Saul's sons to them. May God help us to soon shape up and advance the Messianic Age by multiplying living models of Torah in Zion. Perhaps Monsey and Arab Chevron should exchange populations.




God finished teaching Moshe (Moses) how to build the MISHKAN (tabernacle), a model of the original perfect patterns of creation. AFTER the sin of the calf, He gave him a MUCH GREATER personal revelation, his reward for leaving Sinai to save Israel. The Jews got a suspended sentence, additional detailed laws, and two new tablets. Israel was on a high spiritual level before the sin; God would have prevented them from sinning, but He wanted to teach future generations the potential for repentance in every situation (A. Z. 4b, Marshah). Now Moshe, his face aglow, GATHERED TOGETHER THE WHOLE COMMUNITY OF THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL AND TOLD THEM: "THESE ARE THE THINGS WHICH GOD COMMANDED-- TO DO THEM (Hirsch-- TO MAKE THEM). SIX DAYS SHALL WORK BE DONE, AND THE 7TH DAY SHALL BE HOLY TO YOU, A SABBATH OF SABBATHS TO GOD-- ANYONE DOING FORBIDDEN WORK THEN WILL BE KILLED. DON'T IGNITE FIRE IN ALL YOUR DWELLINGS ON SHABAT DAY". (THEN) MOSHE SPOKE TO THE ENTIRE ISRAELIGHT COMMUNITY SAYING: "THIS IS THE THING (singular) WHICH GOD COMMANDED SAYING... (35:1-4)"--

Moshe now gives Israel instructions for the materials, building and furnishing of the mishkan, all subordinate to Shabbat. He waited until after Yom Kippur, to be sure that any thieves among the Jews would return their stolen property, rather than donate it to the mishkan-- only "clean" (not "laundered") money should be used for holy projects, if they're to be imbued with God's Presence (Freddie of Gur Aryeh bookstore told me of a young haredi who came in, close to Y.K., to pay for some Playboy magazines, which "his friend" had "borrowed"!). So all that goes into the State of Israel today must be pure if God's Presence is to fully dwell in His Sanctuary-Nation. Shlomo didn't use Dovid's treasury for the Temple (IK7:51), lest people later say that it was destroyed due to being built with spoils of war (Tal Yaldut-- cf. Israel's armaments industry; per Rambam, it's forbidden to sell arms which will be used for aggression; see A. Z. 15b-16a)! Jewish unity was abused when Aharon was pressured to join Israel to make the calf; now unity was used properly-- to build God's House, to bring down heaven and raise up earth.

ZICHRON MENACHEM (by 7 of my grandchildrens' great-great grandfather) portrays a model for all future rabbis, when Moshe "gathers all the people to tell them God's commandments"-- to avoid embarrassing someone or arousing his resistance, chastise him only by raising the issue generally and indirectly, while speaking to a crowd-- many a sermon or class is directed at someone special!-- but only he/she is to realize it.

INTERACTIVE MEDIA: The Torah could just state that the Jews collected all the materials and made and presented the Mishkan as God commanded; instead it repeats the detailed list of materials and objects made 3 times-- in Moshe's charge to Israel, in its execution, and in their presentation of the completed Mishkan before him. But Torah doesn't just convey information to passive recipients. God wants us to interact with its words, to graphically experience the "vibes" of each entity and action, what it feels like to "give blue wool", to "connect sets of curtains", to present the completed work (cf. multi-media CD-ROM-- should Torah be so presented today for maximum impact?). Just reading about a rose is not to experience a rose. So the rabbis wrote separate blessings for each sort of food from the earth (apparently other food, e.g. meat, coke, and milk, isn't as didactic or important); I'm not just to thank God for food, but to briefly experience the wonder of His tree, which grew my good guava, and, with every bite, His constant kindness to all creatures-- despite all the destruction in a yet unredeemed world, both ruined and redeemable by Man.

So ritual objects do not exhaust their meaning and impact in a logical exposition of their symbolic nature, but transmit their soul messages via direct experience of them and their functions-- to read about the menora, even to see a good picture of it, is not the same as viewing it, especially when it is lit.

The sacred character of the mishkan and its furnishing depended on the artisan's focus on the unique symbolic significance of each article, per Hirsch; each object had to be made, handled, and assembled in a spirit consistent with its purpose (cf. writing a valid sefer torah). But why repeat all these details when WE read Moshe's charge to Israel?-- Perhaps God wants to give the same importance to Moshe's charge and its execution as His own; very human Moshe is the first indispensable rabbinic connection between God's mouth and man's ears, yet even he must never be deified (cf. those who assume that their Rebbe is always right).

The Mishkan instructions are given to Israel only AFTER the sin of the calf (per Hirsch). They now realized how far they still had to go, tho the gates of return are always open. They knew the Almighty both as Lord of Judgement and God of Grace. The Mishkan and later Temple gave them aid and inspiration to retain their high state and to achieve self-renewal, whenever they fell off their pedestals-- until they misused the Temple and sacrifices themselves, for magic ritual, rather than spiritual transformation, e.g. stressing animal blood, rather than repentance, as the means to atonement (so some folks view religion as black or haredi magic to serve their ends, rather than as a source of inspiration and ethics). The Tabernacle used their senses to lead them beyond their senses. God's Presence is to enter them in the mishkan and they're to carry it back home with them to build a truly holy nation. Yet Israel achieved their great Calfian atonement, return to God, BEFORE erecting the mishkan-- they can attain atonement without a Temple too!

Rav Shmuel Avigdor Hacohen notes that the Sabbath institution precedes the building of the sanctuary. The Shabat is Israel's eternal sanctuary in time, even when it does not have its temporary sanctuaries in space. Wherever the Jew wanders, the Shabat is always there with him. More than the Jews preserved the Shabbat, the Shabbat preserved them (see Shabbat Shalom by Pinchas Peli, $20 from TOP).

Rav M. Miller calls Shabbat and Torah gifts of unconditional love, available to help the Jew regardless of his spiritual state. The land, Davidic Monarchy, and the Tabernacle, however, will only remain with, and help, Israel when they are on a level to use them properly.

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"WISE HEARTED CRAFTSMEN" are to execute all the projects, PER GOD'S INSTRUCTIONS (vs. the Golden Calf, where Israel did their own thing). Moshe stresses that THEY did the work (39:43)-- every part from the smallest to the greatest expressed their unique personalities and spontaneous enthusiasm, but subordinated to the detailed Divine imperative: AS GOD HAD COMMANDED (39:43)-- adding or subtracting nothing. Creative people must subordinate their creative impulse to God's instructions (art, e.g. ballet, films and plays, is no excuse for nudity and pornography; I tend to agree with haredi protests against the pictures of nude Jews at Yad Vashem; but I'm sure that Y.V.'s intentions were good, tho typically secularly insensitive to modesty and holiness; secular protests that removing or partially covering these few pictures, to preserve the victims' dignity, will somehow contribute to denial of the Holocaust is ridiculous, a projection of anti-religious paranoia). A servant of God is characterized by freedom in obedience and obedience in freedom (Hirsch).

The whole Jewish community quickly left Moshe's presence to get to work (better do the rebbe's work than just hang around the rebbe; better to go for a walk in the woods than tell stories about a rebbe's walk in the woods?). They immediately transferred their resolve into action, rather than wasting time on ingenious discussion (Hadrush V'Haiyun-- just forming a committee or holding a discussion isn't action). So rabidly anti-Zionist Munkatcher Dayan Yissaschar Teichtal repented in the Budapest Ghetto in 1943; he wrote Am Habanim Smacha ($20 from TOP; English synopsis $5), explaining why, per Kabala, secular Zionists were right, in acting to bring about our redemption, and passive Hassidic rebbes wrong, despite their holy inner states. Both men and women eagerly contributed materials for the tabernacle; but only some had wood and cloth.

"Every woman WITH WISE HEARTED HANDS spun the cloth; all women whose HEARTS LIFTED THEM UP WITH WISDOM spun the goats! (35:25-6)". Rav Eliezer, who strongly opposes female study of talmud (Sota 20a, vs. Ben Azzai), deduces that spinning is the only true female wisdom (Yoma 66b-- seemingly a derisive answer to the wise woman who asked him why 3 different punishments were given to those involved in the Golden Calf sin; I have a hunch that there's a deeper meaning to his statement, tho Rashi, father of wise daughters, doesn't comment; the Ein Yaakov, which cites and comments on non-halachic talmudic passages, skips this one!! Why? Mrs. Ein Yaakov's influence?)! Perhaps spinning-- putting together disordered raw fibers to make thread-- is symbolic of directing diffuse abstract masculine energy to practical application, of sensing a purposive future in a chaotic present. Spinning the goat's hair, BEFORE shearing, was extra difficult-- the wisest women SPUN THE GOATS (Shabat 99a)! The princes brought the precious stones, spices, and oil. Moshe announced God's appointment of Bezalel as Director of Mishkan Development and Head Craftsman. He's endowed with "THE SPIRIT OF THE LORD IN WISDOM, UNDERSTANDING, KNOWLEDGE, AND ALL CRAFTSMANSHIP, TO PLAN AND EXECUTE" skilled work with metal, precious stones, and wood. One must cast aside petty sophistry and pseudo-intellectuality to get truly close to God (see The Jew and the Lotus, Rodger Kaminetz). The compensation is Divine wisdom and understanding-- perhaps less flashy, it's of far greater depth and reliability (Meshech Chochma).

B'TZALEL and his V.P., Oholiov, both get WISEHEARTEDNESS for craftsmanship, to execute AND TO PLAN. They're ALSO given sensitivity to teach others-- great craftsmen aren't always great teachers of crafts: cf. The Peter Principle. Moshe tells the volunteer craftsmen to take the materials and work. After a while, they told Moshe the people were donating too much. He ordered them to STOP fundraising! Too great enthusiasm for holy building projects per se may indeed replace appreciation and inculcation of their holy messages. The Shabbat ban on building the tabernacle indeed makes its builders return to its messages and goals. B'tzalel and/or Moshe supervised the work. B'tzalel showed extra zeal in executing the holy furniture of the Mishkan (Rashi). The brass washstand and its base were made from the mirrors of the women clustered about the entrance to the Meeting Tent (Holy groupies!). All was completed.


YOU SHALL NOT IGNITE FIRE IN ANY OF YOUR DWELLINGS ON THE SABBATH DAY (35:3), this reading's only mitzva, is the last mitzva of Exodus (Sefer Hachinuch). ALL creative work in the Mishkan construction was already forbidden on Shabbat (Ex. 20:10, 31:14-5, Lev. 23:3); but our verse adds that even court execution by fire, e.g. for a priest's adulterous daughter, is forbidden on Shabbat; this is extended to all forms of execution. We also learn that courts shouldn't even sit in judgement on Shabbat (vs. those who scream "Shabbat" at drivers, rather than inviting them for kugel and zmiros). If witnesses testify that a duly warned court personally executed someone on Shabbat, those judges would themselves be stoned to death during Temple times-- it probably never happened. The Lubavitcher Rebbe, z"tzl, suggested that even mentioning the death penalty for Shabbat violation, when befriending non-observant Jews, is foolish and counter-productive-- cf. the refusal of Israel's Chief Rabbis to even talk to Conservative and Reform rabbis.

Shlah interprets: "You shall not ignite fiery quarrels and gossip in your homes on Shabbat"-- it's a day of peace, of holy speech, a foretaste of that great day, whose essence is shabbat and the tranquility of eternal life * Then lion and lamb (Israel and the nations, per Rambam), husband and wife, even parents and children, will live in peace! When parental hearts will be retuned and returned to their children and their own childhood by Eliyahu, then their children's hearts will gladly return to them. Perhaps "Eliyahu's Chair" at circumcision ceremonies symbolizes the power of the covenant of Avraham to transcend the usual generation gap between fathers and sons-- Avraham himself is "our father" to this day. All will tune into the Divine order in a world of peace and harmony-- then there will be no more crimes and executions. Truth and peace are always in tension and conflict (as faith and humility)-- perhaps controversies over truth should be reserved for the week, only peace to prevail on Shabbat, a forerunner of a world of clear truth, which will itself contribute to peace.

* eventual inevitable death makes us nervous about life-- cf. Freud; for a penetrating account of the effects of the early death of a pious Jew's children, and his efforts to retain his Jewish integrity in an alien environment, read The Sacrifice, a profound and gripping Laurentian Library first novel of Canadian Jewish immigrant life, by Adele Wiseman-- this gripping work, with its shocking ending, was praised by Saul Bellow and Orville Prescott, and received the Governor-General's Award for Fiction in 1956; has anyone out there ever heard of the book or its author, 40 years further down the brief high speed highway of life?-- Kohelos laments: "There is no remembrance of them of former times; neither shall there be any remembrance of them of latter times that are to come, among those that shall come after"-- 1:11; "For of the wise man, even as of the fool, there is no remembrance for ever; seeing that, in the days to come, all will long ago have been forgotten... 2:16; "There was no end of all the people, even of all them whom he did lead; yet they that come after shall not rejoice in him. Surely this too is transient vanity and a striving after wind-- 4:16; "And I saw the wicked buried and they entered into their rest; but they that had done right went away from the holy place, and were forgotten in the city; this is also vanity-- 8:10; may my mention of The Sacrifice renew its powerful effects on new readers and keep it alive as long as my own writings still live.

Per R. Natan, the Torah singles out the prohibition of kindling to teach that each of the 39 categories of forbidden Shabbat work is an entity unto itself-- if one committed 2 such labors during one period of carelessly forgetting Shabbat, he brings 2 sin offerings (Rashi, Yev. 6b). Per R. Yose, kindling is singled out to teach that it's NOT punishable by death, only stripes, unlike other forbidden creative acts on Shabbat (Shabbat 70a).

"YOU SHALL CALL SHABBAT A PLEASURE" (Is. 58:13) teaches that my whole being, both body and soul, should exult on Shabbat (and transcend the horrors of this world, both physical and existential, "the black void" of Reb Nachman, as expounded by Rav M.Gafni). My "shabbat soul", its Divine sensitivity increased, can, at least temporarily, experience the physical world as an audio-visual manifestation of God's spirit; fine and varied food and drink, sleep and sexual relations, are prescribed as an integral part of Jewish holy days, which are "remembered" over kiddush wine, except for Yom Kippur, the super Shabbat of almost total withdrawal. So I might think that I SHOULD ignite fire for Shabat pleasures, e.g. light, heat, and hot baths (or to drive to shul, igniting the fuel in my internal or infernal combustion engine). But the Torah clearly states-- YOU SHALL NOT IGNITE A FIRE... (Ramban; he praises feasts upon conclusion of a talmud tractate, tho generally disparaging bodily pleasures-- see our Naso study)


HE MADE THE COPPER LAVER AND ITS COPPER BASE WITH THE MIRRORS OF THE HOST OF WOMEN, WHO GROUPED ABOUT THE ENTRANCE TO THE TENT OF MEETING-- 35:8. They crowded about Moshe's tent, eager to donate their mirrors-- the Mishkan wasn't built yet (Ramban). These mirrors played a colorful and crucial role in the formation of the Jewish people and subsequent world redemption. Pharoh decreed that all Jewish male infants be drowned; the rational talmudic Jewish men separated from their wives to avoid such a tragedy (before the pill?). Women possess higher faith and intuition-- they bless God, "Who has made me like His own will or personality"; so the Jewish slaves' wives wanted to resume relations, come what may, against all logic; they overcame their husbands' sober reason with romantic seduction, bringing food to their distant labor camps (cf. Siberia, Shlomo Carlebach's romantic faith, as opposed to systematic thought). After their husbands ate and relaxed, they took out their mirrors and teased them playfully: "Look, I'm prettier than you!" (Bet Yaakov must educate future "wives of valor" to be fun too, not just "good"-- true, Shlomo or Batsheva left this element out of their paean to the ideal wife, A Woman of Valor, in Prov. 31:10-31; but Nacha of Bar Ilan U. claims that the omission was only because of Shlomo's shame at missing his Temple's inauguration, due to his over-absorption with his terrible "fun girl" wife, Ms. Pharo, whom he had wed the night before). Their re-Jewvenated men then slept with them, perpetuating the Jewish people. We might thus translate 38:8: "... with the mirrors which RAISED THE HOSTS of Israel".

Songs of Songs 8:5 recalls this tale: "I AROUSED YOU UNDER THE APPLE TREE" (cf. "Don't go walking under the apple tree with anyone else but me, `till I come marching home!"-- see Tanchuma Pkudei; good modest Jewish wives don't even go for walks with other men, without their husbands' knowledge and approval).

MOSHE WAS RELUCTANT to make the laver of priestly purification from mirrors used for sensual arousal-- but God told him that these were the most precious donations, as they renewed His people. Rashi views bodily pleasures as good and holy-- he cites this midrash; but ascetic Ramban cites Ibn Ezra-- the women now wanted to GIVE UP their sensual connections (e.g. their mirrors), and just hang around the Mishkan to learn and pray-- cf. lonely and unhappy women who hover about the kotel; a few sessions with a good psychologist or insightful rov are probably worth far more than little red strings on their wrists and/or 40 days at the "magic" outer retaining wall of the Temple. These mirrors reunited estranged mates-- so the laver's water was the major ingredient of the bitter waters, which tested a wife who aroused suspicions of adultery (see our Naso study); if she was proven innocent, her husband could live with her again. She was only tested if she agreed, and only if she had intimacy with another man, duly witnessed, after duly witnessed warning from her husband against doing so (being alone with a man other than one's husband is only a rabbinical prohibition of David and his court, after Amnon raped Tamar, unless her husband specifically warns her not to do so).

Man's powerful primal drives can destroy his Divine Essence; yet they're the only means to build and preserve the physical world, within which he can achieve his mission-- self-conquest and development of his Divine Image. Talmudic rabbis found ways to destroy the "evil impulse"-- but chickens stopped laying eggs and people stopped building houses and families; the rabbis had to retract; they too can err! (some people still try to kill their spirits today, echoing a non-Jewish philosophy-- "God's happy if I'm not!"). When God says "I AROUSED YOU...", He proclaims the innate holiness of ALL His creation when properly used (how is sensuality viewed in our 20th century innovation-- women's Torah schools?-- Solomon chose the human sexual relationship as his metaphor for the relationship between Israel and God, in Song of Songs-- he respected it; would Agudat Yisroel and Degel Hatorah do likewise? The Yemenites might-- see Shaalot Yavetz II:15).

E. HAFTARAT VAYAKHEL is I Kings 7:40-50 for Ashkenazim, 18-25 for Sfardim (when it's read alone, except on the Sabbaths of Shekalim, Parah and Hachodesh).

A VALID TEMPLE: The simple tabernacle stands in contrast to Solomon's opulant Temple, with 2 immense pillars, Yachin and Boaz, at its entrance. These two great pillars, by their names, proclaim to the visitor that the Temple is only worthwhile and viable if it is a fulfillment of the "word of God" (see THESE TWO PILLARS, in Pkudei below). Ten pedestals and basins, magnificent and ornate, were divided into two lines of five, on either side of the "sea" supported by 12 oxen. Ten menoras surround the original menora of B'tzalel and 10 tables the original table; some say that only the original ones of Moshe were used, the rest being only decorative (Men. 98b). Tal Yaldut concludes that one is to spend one's wealth lavishly on God's glory (visit tasteful and elegant Judaica Heirlooms at the Laromme Hotel!). Solomon kept the extra equipment donated, for future use, rather than limiting the donations to need; his "donations" of work and material from the people were compulsory.

The pillars of Solomon of the tribe of Yehuda were cast by Chiram of Tyre, the talented son of a coppersmith of Naftali and a widow of Dan. Likewise, in the tabernacle, the work was directed by Betzalel of the leading tribe of Yehudah, aided by Oholiov of the last and least tribe, Dan (Pesikta Rabsi; see II Ch. 2:13). The Talmud, Arachin 16a, concludes that a son should learn his father's trade (he has a head start and so bonds with his father; artistic talent is also probably hereditary).


H. 2 FOR 1.


The Jews now complete the Tabernacle, following instructions which Moshe received from God. Moshe is gradually withdrawing from direct action-- Joshua fights Amalek, lesser leaders judge the folk, he no longer lives with a woman, and Aharon takes over the high priesthood; Betzalel and Oholiav organize the building of the Tabernacle. The rare gifted thinker and spirit needs gradually increasing separation from mundane tasks of life, to explore the infinite and bring it down to earth-- cf. "One appointed a communal leader may not do menial work in public (Kid. 70a)". "Reduce business activity and be preoccupied with Torah (Avot 4:12)". "All who take upon themselves the yoke of Torah, the community gradually removes from them burdens of government and worldliness" (Avot 3:6-- all must share burdens, but not all take the same burden; yet the scholar must still support himself, per Rambam M.T. T.T. 1:7, 3:10-11, Avot 4:7; see Rama, Y. D. 246:5). Moshe's primary role is to teach and guide the activists-- God's the producer, Moshe the director, as Israel begins to act out its national drama on the stage of world history. So Ashet Chayil, the Woman of Valor, oversees and guides her household, even when her active years have ended, unwilling to eat "the bread of idleness" (Prov. 31, Hirsch). But erecting the weighty Tabernacle was beyond normal human capacity; God then ordered Moshe to step in and finish the job-- he exerts a bit of effort and the Tabernacle pops up on its own (Rashi- 39:33)!


WE BEGIN THE END OF EXODUS with an accounting of metals used in the Tabernacle. Moshe ordered the Levites to do this, supervised by Aharon's son Itamar. 29 talents (1 kikar), 730 shekels, of gold were used. The compulsory 1/2 silver shekel donation, by which Jews (male 20+) were counted for war and got atonement, came to 100 talents + 1775 shekels. A talent (about 150 lbs.) was used for each of the 100 silver sockets for the boards; the hooks, caps, and fillets for the courtyard pillars were made from the 1775 shekels (about 1.5 lbs. each). Sefer Hachinuch says that Levites also had to give 1/2 shekels when counted, but weren't included in the census following the calf debacle, when no Levite died. The 70 talents, 2400 shekels of copper (or bronze, or brass, or copper alloyed with gold or silver) was used for the COURTYARD sockets and entrance pillars, tent pegs for the Mishkan and courtyard, and the altar for animal sacrifices, with its utensils, in the courtyard.

THE COLORED WOOL, NOT counted, was used for the tabernacle curtains, the priestly garments, and the linen-free packing cloths for the sacred furniture; the making of the cloth and garments is described here, not with that of the curtains in Vayakhel. THE JEWS FOLLOWED GOD'S INSTRUCTIONS thruout the construction. They brought everything to Moshe for assembly and kashrut certificates! All the items are listed again-- "AND MOSHE SAW all the work and BEHOLD they did it as God commanded, SO THEY DID IT; AND MOSHE BLESSED THEM" (39:43). According to tradition, Moshe's blessing ends with the end of Psalm 90, attributed to him: "(May it be the Will of God that His Presence rest upon the work of your hands, and may the bliss of God, our Lord, be upon us); establish upon us the work of our hands (the freedom to determine our own actions-- Hirsch), and the work of our hands-- You establish it (teach us Your Will as to our work-- Hirsch)"-- Midrash Tanchuma Pkudei 11.

God told Moshe to personally erect the Mishkan on 1 Nissan (almost a year after Exodus). This first new moon in our holiday calendar symbolizes the renewal of Israel and the world, when the Jews absorb God's presence in the Tabernacle-- Hirsch; Moshe's to put the ark, the partition curtain, and table, with its 12 breads (Rashi), in their places. He is to bring in the menorah and light it. The gold incense altar must be placed in front of the ark and the entrance curtain put in place. He must erect the brass altar at the entrance. The laver of water is to be placed between the altar and the Mishkan and filled. Finally, he's to erect the courtyard and its entry. All is to be sanctified for use via the anointing oil, as are the cohanim, after immersion and donning of their special clothes (the brass altar becomes HOLY OF HOLIES-- 40:10; Zev. 87a). White robed ordinary priests serve in the white-curtained courtyard, the multi-color clad high priest in the multi-colored mishkan. THIS WILL CREATE AN ETERNAL HOLY PRIESTHOOD. "MOSHE DID ACCORDING TO ALL THAT GOD COMMANDED HIM, SO HE DID!" (40:16)-- transferring the priesthood from himself and his progeny to Aharon and his descendants. The Torah then relates how Moshe set up the Mishkan, per the above ORDER. He put both the whole and BROKEN tablets in the ark-- a senile scholar still merits great respect. He offered incense and meal offerings. Moshe and Aharon & Sons washed their hands and feet at the washstand; so must they do whenever they enter the Mishkan or process sacrifices.

At each stage, God testifies that Moshe did "AS GOD COMMANDED"-- Israel only heeds leaders who themselves heed God (cf. Netanyahu, Peres, etc.); so a "rabbi", e.g. reform, can't "convert" anyone to a religion whose Divine origin he himself doubts, and whose laws he doesn't practice, tho he might be a great teacher and spiritual personality, e.g. heretic M. Buber. "AND MOSHE COMPLETED THE WORK. THE CLOUD COVERED THE MISHKAN AND THE GLORY OF GOD FILLED THE MISHKAN... " (40:34-5). The Jews journeyed when the cloud was taken up; otherwise, they stayed put. "THE CLOUD OF GOD STAYED ON THE MISHKAN BY DAY AND FIRE WAS IN IT BY NIGHT. THIS WAS VISIBLE TO ALL THE HOUSE OF ISRAEL IN ALL THEIR TRAVELS (38)". The first and last words of Exodus together give its message: "THESE ARE THE NAMES OF THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL... IN ALL THEIR TRAVELS"-- wherever Jews went, they remained Jews only as long as they guarded and retained their Jewish "names" or identity (Tal Yaldut).


The altar tops are the only squares among the Mishkan's furnishings-- the bronze sacrificial altar top is 5 X 5 cubits and the gold incense altar's 1 X 1; both have 4 corner horns, perhaps corresponding to the metaphoric 4 corners of the earth; the Torah emphasizes their squareness, as tefillin. Tefillin on my hand suggest discipline and holiness imposed upon my acts; so the outer bronze altar vicariously subordinates and sanctifies my animal life forces to God. The tefillin on the head suggest similar discipline and holiness imposed upon my thoughts and feelings; this suggests the burning of fine incense upon the gold inner altar. Both realms-- activism and contemplation-- must indeed be "square"- harmonious and balanced; don't meditate while China destroys Tibet, if you can do something about it, and don't run around like crazy in pursuit of trivial, meaningless and superficial goals, rather than thinking things thru. No exaggeration or enthusiasm may becloud the true nature of things-- even "We Want Moshiach Now".


H. U. Prof. M. Greenberg claims that Exodus was redacted from separate earlier sources (Encyclopedia Judaica). A priori denial that the Torah is one unified book, dictated by God Himself, during the 40 year desert trek, is the "religion" of E.J., J.T.S., H.U. (Heretical Univ.), H.U.C. and the JPS Bible (Greenberg worked on K'tuvim). A certain sacrosanct aura is created by calling their method "scientific"-- yet they have no technology, no tangible proof of correct scientific insight, e.g. TV, body scanners, or trips to the moon (cf. psychoanalysis).

The so-called "higher criticism" approach to Bible is described in the far more traditional encyclopedia, Otzar Yisroel (2:157), whose sentiments were recently echoed by Prof. Dov Noy: "Who's the author(s), what's the date(s) of its composition, and was it a unified or composite work? Wise men who seek truth will benefit from the exercise, but those who hate the literature of the Jewish people will stumble in it. Many of these matters are deemed valid by the talmud and the true wise men of Israel, but the modern school of Bible Criticism has passed all bounds and broken the framework. They've exerted their utmost efforts, using wild guesses and complex sophistry, to demonstrate authorship long after the events-- the books then reflect the spirit of the later editor of varied older traditions and fragments. Their true intent is to find defects and denigrate the Books, to destroy Jewish Tradition-- their hatred of the literature of Israel is greater than their hatred of the children of Israel. Most of the modern Jewish scholars, who ape the work of Christian critical scholars, are unaware of the ultimate consequences of their work."-- writes Judah D. Eisenstein, an encyclopedic renaissance man and clothing manufacturer. His grandson, Ira E., married both M. Kaplan's daughter and his Jewish cultural substitute for Judaism-- Reconstructionism.

Danny Gwertzman notes that many modern Biblical critics have given up their passionate search for alien origins of Jewish tradition; instead, they now seek that which is unique and Divine within it; hopefully, they'll gradually realize that it is all so. Greenberg validates most Jewish traditional practice, despite his view of the Bible!


The scholars of the Mishna, 2000 years closer to the event, proclaimed: "Moshe received Torah at Sinai and passed it on to Yehoshua..." (Avot 1:1). This is the approach of the far more informative illustrated translation of the Pentateuch-- The Living Torah (Kaplan); the Hertz, Soncino, and Hirsch Pentateuchs, as Judaica and Artscroll's Bible books, are equally authentic blends of Written and Oral Torah. Any other belief is not truly "traditional" or "masorati", despite great contributions of its adherents to the Jewish people. I asked editors of the JPS Bible whether they regarded it as the word of God, and how this affected their approach-- I got no clear answer. Likewise, those who add all sorts of antiquated cultural and folk traditions to that of God, e.g. ethnic foods, clothing, and jargon, are not truly traditional, tho they preserve much of true tradition. Rav J. Soloveichik described haredi culture as the attempt to re-create a shtetel that never existed. The Torah is not historical myth, but Divine inspiration and revelation, to guide and affect Everyman. "Anyone who says that the Torah is not from Heaven has no share in the world to come (San. 81a)". Allegedly liberal open Maimonides' 8th Principle of Faith is: I BELIEVE WITH COMPLETE FAITH THAT THE ENTIRE TORAH NOW IN OUR HANDS IS THAT GIVEN TO MOSHE, OUR TEACHER, PEACE BE UPON HIM-- cf. Louis Jacobs, Leo Baeck.

This traditional belief is more "scientific"; it is the one Jewish system which produces very high spiritual tech-- it gives birth, en masse, to intense inspiring Jewish faith communities, spanning all eras and places. It kept the people going and the dream of Zionism alive for thousands of years, despite overwhelming odds of non-Jewish power and influence. Non-traditional Jewish communities last, en masse, only a few generations-- e.g. Karites, Samaritans; mere "scientific" Jewish study would never have aroused and maintained the will and spirit to rebuild Israel today. Israel's future still requires great sacrifice, likely to be made, in the long run, only by those who sense its Divine mission. This sense only makes sense if God indeed spoke clearly to us.

GREENBERG'S 2 ARGUMENTS (E.J.) seem weak to me. He first cites the beginning of Exodus-- the names of Yaakov's sons and their families, coming down to Egypt, already mentioned in Gen. 46. He concludes that Exodus wasn't originally linked to Genesis! In case the reader hadn't read Genesis, he's given a bit of background! But countless sages, throughout the ages, were indeed quite aware of God's repetition of these names here; they, however, sought the deeper meaning, not the refutation, of their legacy from Sinai.

Rashi writes that God repeats the names of the Patriarchs and their descendants at every stage and opportunity as a gesture of love, as does one who tells and retells the life story of his beloved child, of his son the famous doctor! The Bible is pregnant with feeling, not just information, in its tale of God and His Chosen People. He similarly addresses Moshe and Avraham with love, doubling their names (see our Vayikra study). God is not a 4th floor tenement mother, who has to repeatedly scream "Moishele" to get her son's attention-- one word from heaven gets instant response; should God once utter "Shulamit, shape up!", MK Aloni would enroll in Nevei Women's Seminary and sit at Rebbetzin Heller's feet the next day! Yaakov might indeed repeat "Rachel, Rachel", tho he already has her attention. But Bible critics, who are pre-sold that God didn't dictate it, are closed to such understandings. Also, per Hirsch, emerging Jewish nationhood, the subject of Exodus, is to be built upon, not replace, individual and family identity. Thus the Torah now repeats the Jews' names, families, and connection with Yaakov's tradition, emphasizing that these basic attributes are not to be lost amidst their emerging national identity (cf. USSR, China, Nazi Germany).

Greenberg also argues from the end of Exodus-- 40:36 ff. tells how the Jews continually traveled thru the desert, led by God's pillars of cloud and fire! He views this as an irrelevant reference to their future desert experience (Num. 9:15-23)-- lest the reader not know separate Numbers traditions! But the Torah stresses here that God's imminent Glory was not just perceived on Sinai or in the Mishkan; it was to accompany the Jews thruout their journeys, thru the desert of exilic history, in pillars of cloud and fire; a true Jew settled and raised his family where they could best develop their intimate relation with God (cf. INSIDE, OUTSIDE-- Wouk). He wouldn't live so far from his fellow Jews that he'd violate God's law by driving to shul on Shabbat, howbeit with a Conservative dispensation. Ramban explains (in his Introduction to Exodus) why Exodus doesn't end with the departure from Egypt. The Jewish Nation, via the pillars of cloud and fire, must achieve that state which the Patriarchs achieved in Genesis-- that God's Presence be constantly with them, their guide. It was temporarily lost due to the sale of Yosef and assimilation in Egypt.

THESE 2 PILLARS of cloud and fire are later reflected in the 2 pillars of Shlomo's Temple in our Haftara, YACHIN and BOAZ-- The right pillar (looking from within the Temple, on the south side of the golden menora), Yachin, symbolizes the Torah, the Law of God, as that which, like the pillar of cloud, defines and directs Jewish life and our mission to mankind, as a KINGDOM OF PRIESTS AND A HOLY NATION-- it prepares the way, giving both structure and meaning (vs. la dolca vita). YACHIN means "he or it directs". On the other hand, the left pillar (on the north side of the golden table), Boaz, symbolizes the Law of God as the pillar of fire, the source of unconquerable emotional strength in the Jew and his messianic mission. Israel must endure the sacrificial nights and fires of exile, until this mission is realized at Messianic dawn; this fire smelts and refines Israel, gives them enduring supernatural stamina-- BOAZ means "IN HIM IS STRENGTH". An extraordinary portrayal of this strength is the story of the rescue of many Jews, especially haredi scholars, from the Holocaust, by hardei leaders, and the tension between them and the secular Zionists-- To Save A World, by David Kranzler and Eliezer Gevirtz. The struggle of Inquisition Marranos is personified by Abarbanel's son in Sacred Sword (M. Abramowitz).

These two elements of Torah enable the Jew to survive the long, long exile, tho the pillars and Temple themselves disappeared long ago, after Israel's conquest by Assyria, itself now long covered by the dust of history. Yet their message still lives on today-- The Jew, priest of mankind will emerge in the messianic era to GRADUALLY create the model State of Israel; it will show the world the direction, meaning, and definition of human existence-- to bring mankind back to Eden via Jerusalem; the above message is adapted from M. Hirsch's commentary on the Haftarot, published with his father's (S. R. Hirsch) commentary on the Torah. Thus the desert pillars of fire and water-cloud,, conveying this message, had to be mentioned at the completion of the first stage of Jewish nationhood-- the Mishkan inauguration. One should enter the Mishkan and temple with this mindset.

Greenberg gave me a traditional source for his modern academic approach to Bible-- Tzafnat Panaach (E. Tuv-Elam, 14th Cent.); he explains Ibn Ezra on Deut. 1:2-- "If you understand the secret of the 12, also MOSHE WROTE (Deut. 31:9), AND THE CAANITES WERE THEN IN THE LAND (Gen. 12:6), IN THE MOUNT OF GOD HE WILL BE SEEN (Gen. 22:14), AND HIS BED WAS A BED OF IRON (3:11), you will recognize the truth"-- he may mean that these 4 verses, as the Torah's last 12 verses, Deut. 34, have been added by later scribes, as AND THE CAANITES WERE THEN IN THE LAND (Gen. 12:6). Ibn Ezra there says that the Canaanites may have captured the land from others, the Torah telling us that they were THEN ALREADY in Israel (but see 13:7), OR "if not so, I have a secret and the wise man will be quiet!". He means that a later scribe added this verse after the Torah period, when there were no more Canaanites in Israel. But THEN, in Avraham's time, they were present.

But all other commentators explain this verse traditionally, as does Ibn Ezra himself in his first explanation. Ibn Ezra himself castigates Yona Ibn Janach, urging that his books be burnt, for suggesting some 20 words to be corrected in the Bible; others showed the correctness of the traditional readings. Rav Nachman banned Ibn Ezra's rational commentary to his ecstatic Breslavers. Tikunei Soferim are 17-18 small amendments, perhaps by the authors of the text themselves (Tanchuma B'Shalach, Aruch-KVD), to avoid irreverent implications. God Himself may make the changes in the Torah (Rav M. Machlis). See Rashi on Gen. 11:12 and Job 37:10, Ikarim 3:22, Gen. Rab. 49, Num. 11:15, 12:13, Zech. 2:12, IS. 3:13, IK2 1:13, Job 1:5, 2:9, and Ezek. 8:17.

All this TRADITIONAL analysis of Bible, by those who accepted its Divinity and authority, is quite different from modern attacks upon the unity and origin of the Torah. So tradition recognizes that Prophets write God's Word in their own style; yet, tho they may temporarily suspend Torah Law, e.g. Eliyahu's sacrifice on Mt. Carmel, they may never change it. The Men of the Great Assembly edited and arranged the books of the Bible in their original style (Josephus, Against Apion 1:8; see B.B. 14). Only Ezra, Nechemia, and Chronicles were written at the beginning of the 2nd Temple, the others earlier, the prophets during the 1st Temple period. The final canonization is mentioned in II Maccabees 2:2-3, 13-14, in Philo (Cont. 25), and in Ben Sira (Ecclus 39:1). We find no question raised, even by non-Jews, as to the validity of any book of the Jewish Bible until a few hundred years ago, in France and Germany. Greenberg, both a great scholar and a great Jew in many respects, also called my attention to Abarbanel's discussion of the composition of the Bible, in his introduction to Yehoshua, and Eliyahu Hartom's Hatorah Bezman Hazeh. I'll leave this, God willing, for next week's study, as: 1) this 1996 study is already more than chock-full (the 1997 even more so, and the 1998== don't ask!); 2) its already late Thursday (only Tuesday in 1997, a few weeks early in 1998); and 3) my usual printer, Rafi, just got married (Mazal Tov to him and Sivan on their 1997 first anniversary; they've just opened a small print shop off Zion Square, at 15 Chavatzelet; 1998-- they now have a baby daughter, in whose honor they sponsored a hebrew parsha study).

WHERE'S THE UJA MONEY? Moshe himself orders an accounting of all the metal collected. ALL leaders may be suspected of robbing the public coffers (cf. Samuel); Moshe won't tolerate even unvoiced suspicion (Korach later voiced it). The workers, unlike Moshe, Shmuel, priests and rabbis (who don't have to answer to anyone else!), were not suspect, and didn't have to give any accounting, when Yehoash restored the Temple (Haftarat Shekalim, 2K 12:16; was this also true of those who built the mishkan and temple?-- cf. "anyone who doesn't teach his son a profession teaches him to be a thief"-- Kid. 29a). When charity collectors take a large percentage of the funds (more than 20?), they should tell potential donors. We require 2 people to collect charity-- one may pocket it, or be suspected of such. Itamar's accounting gives the most details of use of the less expensive metals! Perhaps stingy folks who donate them, tho they can afford more, are also very suspicious as to their disposition! German Rav S. R. Hirsch claims that the "accounting" here is grossly inadequate (would a CPA certify it?). It's only an overview of the allocation of functions of the people and materials involved in building the Mishkan.

WHAT'S REALLY GOOD? Only God, with absolute insight and foresight, can review Creation and proclaim it "good". Moshe can only say that something conforms with God's expressed will, man's only possible criteria for "good" (Y. Leibowitz); on Purim and Yom Kippurim (the day like Purim), we realize that we really can't be sure of any knowledge, conclusions (who is good or bad), or forecasts (who will live and die). We don't even know who we are-- the most observant dress as pagans on Purim; all Jews masquerade as true Jews on Yom Kippurim. The rest of the year we must live with our best guesses, not questioning them to the point of Oblomovian inertia and inability to function. We pray each day (in u'va l'tziyon): "that we may not strive for emptiness nor give birth to confusion" (cf. Isaiah 65:23). Bar Ilan and Discovery Rav Ari Kahn, in his E-mail parsha study, equates "knowledge", da'at, with experience; the Tree of Knowledge, of experience, must always be preceded by Torah, the Tree of Life; so the Golden Calf was an attempt to self-generate religious experience before acquiring Torah; so Rivka only sends Yaakov out into the big bad world after he's spent many years learning Torah. God blesses His world upon its completion; Moshe blesses Israel after completing the Mishkan, replicating the ideal structure and relationships of creation.

The Mishkan itself, no longer in use, was also brought up with the ark to Solomon's Temple; it was put away in the Temple treasury to be resurrected before the 3rd Temple is built-- "WHY HAS THE MISHKAN REMAINED, (tho) CONCEALED... (unlike the ornate temple)? BECAUSE VIRTUOUS MEN, DEVOUT OF HEART, (voluntarily) BUILT IT. IN DAYS TO COME THE HOLY ONE... WILL ONCE MORE COME DOWN TO DWELL IN IT" (Tana D've Eliyahu 25; a farmer found the utensils of the Mishkan in a cave, but the Chafetz Chayim suppressed the information, per "All for the Boss", by R. Shain). The temple was dedicated in Tishre, 11 months after its completion in Cheshvan; the Mishkan was dedicated on 1 Nissan, tho completed in Kislev. Mystical Pesikta says that God wished their dedications to correspond to the birth months of Avraham and Yitzchak. But practical rational Abarbanel says that it took 11 months to arrange the grand festivities, which also had to wait for completion of the harvest.

F. THE HAFTARA, 1 Kings 7:51-8:21, per Ashkenazim, deals with the completion of the First Temple, (Sefardim read 7:40-50; Ashkenazim also read this when Shabbat Vayakhel is also Parshat Shekalim).

David not only acquired the site of the Temple, but also dedicated materials and utensils for it. In the painful exiles of Golder's Green and Kew Garden Hills, this haftara is also read on the 2nd day of Sukkos, when we pray that God restore the Temple, "David's fallen sukkah" (tho the first 2 verses, mentioning David, are left out on Sukkos!). The haftara for the first day of Sukkos deals with the 3rd Temple and the messianic era; this 2nd day haftara may warn us that the best Temple, if a substitute for moral development, will become the Temple of Man, rather than of God, and be destroyed. Thus the 3rd Temple awaits Jewish spiritual perfection. Per Ramban, it will be built without opposition (Gen. 19-22), corresponding to Yitzchak's third well, Rechovot; either the Jews will first develop their Divine potential to be a true kingdom of priests to all mankind, impressing even the Arabs, or God will openly proclaim to all mankind that the Temple's restoration is His Will.

POMP & CIRCUMSTANCE: As we read of countless sheep and oxen being joyously sacrificed before the Temple Ark, we recall Isaiah 1:11 ff., proclaimed toward the end of this magnificent 1st Temple: WHY SHOULD I WANT YOUR MANY SACRIFICES, SAYS GOD... BRING NO MORE VAIN MEAL OFFERINGS-- IT'S INCENSE OF ABOMINATION TO ME, NEW MOON,SHABBOS, AND FESTIVALS. I CAN'T STAND MORAL CORRUPTION AMIDST RELIGIOUS ASSEMBLIES. MY SOUL HATES YOUR NEW MOONS AND HOLIDAYS; THEY'VE BECOME A BURDEN... WHEN YOU SPREAD YOUR HANDS IN PRAYER, I'LL HIDE MY EYES... SEEK JUSTICE, RELIEVE THE OPPRESSED... (only then?--) THO YOUR SINS BE AS RED AS SCARLET, THEY SHALL BECOME WHITE AS SNOW (Sins themselves, after return, may bring a deeper attachment to God; moral life and human kindness is the prelude to true religious return, e.g. Moshe). This echos Kohelet (Ecc. 3:16): IN THE PLACE (ostensibly) OF JUSTICE, THERE LURKS EVIL (select your own applications). The very magnificence of the ornate temple may have distracted the visitors from its ultimate purpose (cf. grand synagogues with steibels, choirs and virtuoso cantors with simple baalei tefilah, Shlomo Carlebach, and "lilting melody" synagogues-- we recommend the happy late Friday night Shlomo minyan at the kotel, led by Dovid Hertzberg-- mazal tov to him and Sara upon their anniversary). The Jew must remember the purpose of a sanctuary: that God-awareness should enter him in that conducive setting, whose essence is the ark in the holy of holies (adapted from M. Hirsch).

S'prono explains that the 3rd Temple will be 45 mil away from Jerusalem, so that no one attribute the city's holiness to its Temple ritual, rather than to its more important holy essence-- truly holy people (see the great Artscrolls Ezekiel, Rav Moshe Eisemann, Chs. 40,45,48).

SOLOMON made two wall-to-wall 10 cubit high cherubim, besides those on the ark cover, whose wings overshadowed the ark and its poles. The poles were a bit too long for the holy of holies, so that they pushed the dividing curtain outwards. Hirsch derives from this that the Torah is not to be confined to the sanctuary; it reaches out to the Jews to take it with them, as they would do when the Temple was destroyed. Malbim says that the poles thus appear as a woman's breasts, outlined by her dress; the trailing curtains resemble the train of a great matron's gown. Perhaps the Mishkan, which implants God's female aspect, Shechinah (a term not mentioned in the Torah), in man, is to develop the feminine sub motif of the relatively undomesticated, unspiritual male; only males must visit the Temple 3 times a year. The Jewish people itself is the BRIDE of God in Song of Songs, reflecting the feminine coloration of the Jewish national mission. Eli Sagan (Freud, Women, and Morals) rejects the Freudian conscience, the superego, the expanded fear of paternal censure, as the basis for morality. The little Nazi's or Sadaamite's superego tells him to kill Jews. True universal objective morality stems from female eros, the contact with true human love, from the relationship to one's mother. Only she determines your soul essence, e.g. if you're Jewish-- she proclaims daily that God created her with a soul akin to His Own Will (kirtzono); father, who reminds himself daily that he is not an innately holy woman, who operates intuitively, then educates and socializes you.

Rav Mattis Weinberg notes that the Torah, as the intellectual gesture itself, is symbolized by its permanent "carrying poles-- the true scholar is constantly "travelling", searching for new ideas, info and insights; he must be balanced by the depth and stability symbolized by the House, the Sanctuary. Perhaps those who are emotionally most uncomfortable in their early infantile environment are those most attracted to the intellectual life, if they're bright enough. But creativity is so intimately interfaced with neurosis and egocenticity-- Freud was asked if one could be truly creative without being neurotic; he replied that it was extremely rare; the Chazan Ish stressed merging one's ego with Divine tradition, rather than trying for egocentric creativity and originality. confidence in my own understanding and manipulation of reality.

Rebecca Goldstein is a worthy successor to the late Chaim Grade, master portrayer of Lithuanian misnagdic society, spiritual biographer of the Chazan Ish; she wrote The Mind-Body Problem, a deep existential exploration interwoven into a spicy novel about Princton U., home of the nude olympics, and Mazel, an engrossing and captivating tale of the generational transformation of East European Jews-- from medieval Orthodoxy to modern egocentric secularity to a sophisticated Torah-true interface of tradition and modernity. She asks (MazelCh. 18): "Are all great artists egomaniacal? ... A delusion of grandeur might well be a necessary component in the mysterious process of creativity. Just to embark at all upon some daunting imaginative project-- an opera, a symphony, a novel (a parsha sheet?)--a man must be filled with a quite unjustified sense of his own powers and importance. Otherwise, he simply does not presume to write that first sentence, that first measure. Those whose egos maintain perfectly normal dimensions don't set out to recreate the world according to their own conceptions of content and form... after all, who but an egomaniac would ever attempt a masterpiece on the order of War and Peace? The unfortunate fact was not that the great artists are great egotists (note their disfunctional family lives, as a group); what is unfortunate is that great egotists are not necessarily great artists. There is a good deal more pomposity out there than there is talent".

THE GLORY OF GOD: The revelation of God's Glory means that He lets man feel His essence. As the priests began their 1st Temple service, the Glory of God filled the House (the test of a "successful" temple); they had to run out, just as Moshe couldn't enter the Mishkan (Ex. 40:35). David's material was NOT used for the Temple, as he took it from idolaters in war (Rashi, Midrash Agada). Solomon feared that they might attribute revenge to their gods when the Temple, built with idolatrous booty, would be destroyed; others say that Solomon preferred to squander the endowment fund to feed the starving people during 3 years of famine, the Temple's message being more important than the Temple (should we build ornate religious institutions or hold fancy banquets or add extra sifrei torah to synagogues, when so many Israelis are so poor?). Workers on the Temple project never got sick or died; all died in peace as soon as the work was finished; thus, no neighboring idolatrous prince could force them to do similar construction for his cult (Midrash Shimoni)!! Rambam didn't include this historical statement in his 13 Articles of Faith.

On Shabbat Hachodesh, we read of New Moons, Nissan and paschal offerings-- Ex. 12:1-20; the Haftara, Ezekial 45:16-46:18, discusses respective rights and duties of the princes and the folk.


O.R. D'Allonnes (MUSICAL VARIATIONS ON JEWISH THOUGHT) views The Bible as the Divine Song, the grandest symphony, God's Opus #1-- AND NOW WRITE DOWN FOR YOURSELVES THIS SONG... (Deut. 31:19; Creation is Opus #2). Grand statements, crescendos, of a symphony only arise out of a most detailed and repetitious background of mood and development-- so detailed repetitions and seemingly meaningless lists of Biblical material, in our reading, set up spiritual and emotional gestalts, from which emerge our peak experiences. So each seemingly dull and meaningless moment of our existence quietly plays its part in the panorama of our lives. Each note of a symphony and each dab of color in a painting may appear of no note, per se; yet it's indispensable to the total effect. Music, as Man's inner life, functions in the time dimension of Shabat-- "Beethoven's endeavor is an imposing attempt to weave a net, not to retain time, but to make its passage perceptible, without taking away any of its liberty; on the contrary, saving the liberty from nothingness by restoring it to us..." (In Curt Leviant's novel, The Man Who Thought He Was Messiah, Rav Nachman becomes Beethoven's confidant!).


" the undifferentiated flow of the centuries, the Bible opposes a history, an aggregate of dates, from the millennial past (Eden) to the distant future (the Messianic Era, hopefully not so distant), in which the destiny of the peoples will be inscribed; but this aggregate is conceived non-systematically, according to a rhythm which does not arbitrarily shape its content according to a pattern, but rather patterns itself on its content, in such a way as to throw it into relief... The world of the Bible is not God's nightmare; it is His will, intermingled with the expression of that will...; the human being... is not conscious of being alive, when he lets time be frittered away in oblivious instantaneousness.

"The only ethics that can respond to this situation are those that reject false solutions, the distractions of space, objects and idols-- the Biblical ethic, for example, or the musical ethic. Music-- which carves its own time out of the time of the universe, making it, as it were, present to itself by its specific perceptible qualities: rhythm, phrasing, movement, tempo, reprise, variation...; the Bible-- which at one and the same time narrates and circumscribes the time of the world, and fills it not only with characters, with actions, with achievements, but also with qualities focused on time, such as memory and utopia, nostalgia and enterprise, adventure, promise, self-abnegation, foresight. Fidelity too. The Bible and music give us back our lives, whereas idols rob us of them. The Bible and music give consistency to the image of that life, reflecting it back directly at us". This stress on the holiness of music corresponds to the hassidic notion that the wordless niggun is the highest form of prayer-- cf. Wagner; Rav C. Lifshitz believes that Mozart had Divine inspiration.

H. A PSYCHOLOGICAL NOTE: Dr. A. Twerski (Living Each Day) notes that the princes were chastised for their lack of zeal, howbeit reasonable, in building the Mishkan. The degree of one's diligence and enthusiasm reflect the QUALITY of his/her commitment, tho he acts OK. Does it help to urge anyone to be zealous or enthusiastic about anything?-- better to work on his underlying ambivalence! So the unenthusiastic or uncooperative mate, friend or partner may harbor hidden grievances and resentments (cf. Avot 5: "Be bold as a leopard ....").

I. FINIS So I finish, with God's help, what I think is the 14th or 15th edition of Exodus-- does anyone remember exactly when I started them (with Miketz) at the NCSY ISrael Center? These study sheets contain something for everyone to disagree with. True, they're complex, tho only a first glance into the infinite meanings and messages of the Divine Word; but nothing good comes easy for either the writer or the reader. I am not a professional scholar, tho Providence seems most helpful in bringing relevant items to my attention. Yehudi Menuhin (in The Complete Violinist) said that he'd rather be an amatuer, one who loves what he or she is doing. The professional often hates it, perhaps forced to sacrifice his childhood to practice violin or memorize Tosafot! Menuhin hopes to see a society, as Old Vienna, where all play music; I'd look forward to an Israel where all are joyfully engrossed in both Torah and life, joined, in friendship, by the whole world. "Every Yeshiva boy should join Tzahal and every soldier should join a yeshiva!" (Rav G. Gurfein); so every Jew should put out his/her own parsha sheet-- this, in English and Hebrew, and the hebrew Shabbat b'Shabbato, were the first contemporary popular ones; there are now, thank God, many, each with its own particular contribution and audience-- from tidbits to banquets, ultra-traditional to avant garde! May they multiply!


OF MAKING MANY BOOKS, THERE IS NO END (Ecc. 12:12): With the ever-increasing proliferation and price of books, especially Aronson and academic publications, and the decreasing shelf space in modern apartments, no ardent reader can have all the books he needs or desires in his own home-- tho I try hard. So, until the shelves of great libraries will be readily accessible via your PC, we need libraries, tho they miss some books too; some books are always missing, e.g. The False Prophet, Meir Kahana's bio by Robert Friedman, which disappeared from both H.U. libraries. Three good local Jewish research libraries, besides awesome H.U., are 1) H.U.C., King David 13, 620-3333 (they have an A-1 English collection; they're very friendly and helpful on the phone), which also has current Jewish periodicals. 2) The Ariel Institute, HaPisga 5, Bayit V'Gan, 641-6166 (a vast selection of Hebrew Torah works). 3) the smaller Yeshurun library at King George and Shmuel Hanagid, 624-3942. Chabad's small pleasant Mayanot Torah Library and reading room at 8 Chavatzelet St. (opp. Zion Square) features English Torah works from the main haredi publishers and Jason Aronson, and the E.J.); it is connected with the fairly open high level Mayanot Habad Yeshiva for intelligent normal neophytes at Mesillat Yesharim 14. To get in on the information revolution, learn how to explore the Web and use E-mail; Judaism On The Web by Irving Green describes TOP and 499 other selected Jewish Web Sites ($30 from TOP;; The Guide to the Jewish Internet ($50 from TOP), by Michael Levin, includes an IBM-PC disk of website addresses.

"Generation to generation shall praise Your deeds and declare Your great works" (Psalm 145). Our attitude to our ancestors and teachers must be that of Rashbam to his revered grandfather Rashi-- to share and perpetuate his Torah mission, while clearly and firmly disagreeing with his seemingly wrong facts, ideas and conclusions (Rav M. Gafni).

H. 2 FOR 1

Rav Goren (on Pkudei) writes about the two tents or tabernacles-- the tabernacle proper, in the midst of Israel's camp, the center of ritual, and the tent of Moshe (ohel moded, the tent of meeting, or mishkan haeidus, the tabernacle of the testimony), possibly of the same dimensions and housing the 2 tablets, where God appeared to Moshe and Israel sought God (Ex. 33:7f; but Rashi and Ramban claim that the tent of Moshe was so used, and called ohel moed, only until the Tabernacle was erected-- cf. Numbers 11:23f).

So we read in Exodus Raba (51:2; also see Yalkut Shimoni on B'haaloscha, Num 11:23f):

"And all men came... and brought the Lord's offering (Ex. 35:21); within how many days did they bring all the free will offerings? Rav Yochanan said: `They brought it for 2 mornings (36:3) and it was too much, as said (36:7): `For the stuff they had was sufficient for all the work, to make it, and there was too much'. Moshe approached Betzalel and saw the surplus from the tabernacle construction; he said before the Holy One, Blessed be He: `Master of the Universe! We've completed the work of the tabernacle and we have leftover material-- what should we do with it?' He told him: `go and make from them a tabernacle for the testimony (eidoos)'; Moshe did so; when he came to give an accounting of the materials, he told them (Israel): `this amount went for the tabernacle and with the remainder, I made a tabernacle for the testimony. This is the meaning of: `These are the accountings of the tabernacle, (even) the tabernacle of testimony (Ex. 38:21)'".

The Soncino Midrash Raba footnote (p. 563) explains that a separate tabernacle, as it were, was erected in the Holy of Holies, where the ark of Testimony was kept (Yefeh Toar, by R. Samuel Jaffe Ashkenazi, and 'Ez Yosef, by R. Enoch Zundel b. Yosef of Bialistock, 19th Century). Would it too have 2 sections? Would its dimensions be scaled down to those of the Holy of Holies?

The following midrash (51:3) explains the repetition of the word "Tabernacle" (Mishkan-- (38:21) differently-- it is a hint that the 2 Temples served as a surety for Israel, being destroyed instead of them (cf. 51:5). The next one (51:4) explains "The Tabernacle of the Testimony" as the tabernacle testifying to God's forgiving Israel for the Golden Calf.

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