Vayakhel / Shekalim 5782


Careful word choice[1]

ויקהל משה את-כל-עדת בני ישראל ויאמר אלהם אלה הדברים אשר-צוה יקוק לעשת אתם: ששת ימים תעשה מלאכה וביום השביעי יהיה לכם קדש שבת שבתון ליקוק וגו’ ויאמר משה אל-כל-עדת בני-ישראל לאמר זה הדבר אשר-צוה יקוק לאמר: קחו מאתכם תרומה ליקוק וגו’‏
Moshe congregated the entire assembly of the Children of Israel, and said to them: “These are the matters which Hashem commanded you, to perform them. Six days work shall be done and on the seventh day it shall be Holy, a restful Shabbos for Hashem…” Moshe said to the entire assembly of the children of Israel, saying: “This is the matter which Hashem commanded, saying: ‘Take from yourselves a donation for Hashem…’”[2]

The beginning of this week’s parsha contains many oddities and inconsistencies. First, we are told that Moshe congregated the entire Jewish people to tell them about the observance of Shabbos. Why was there a need to teach them about Shabbos? This isn’t the first time they’ve heard about it. In fact, it was already repeated in last week’s parsha! What’s being added this time around? Furthermore, why is it stressed that Moshe congregated them? We don’t find this action associated with any other mitzvah in the Torah.

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Ki Sisa 5782


Monumental mountain manipulation[1]

למה יאמרו מצרים לאמר ברעה הוציאם להרג אתם בהרים וגו’‏
Why should Egypt say that [Hashem] brought [the Jews] out of Egypt with evil [intent], to kill them in the mountains?…[2]

The episode of the Sin of the Golden Calf is an unfortunately famous one. Forty days after a National Revelation of G-d, the Jews created and worshipped a foreign idol. Hashem told Moshe that the Jews would be annihilated as a result of their betrayal. Moshe valiantly defended them, saving them from a sure destruction. One of his defenses was a concern for what the Egyptians would say. Hashem went through all this trouble to redeem the Jewish people from slavery, and for what? To kill them in the desert? What’s interesting is the way Moshe describes what Egypt would say. He specified surprise that Hashem would kill the Jews “in the mountains”. What was he adding with this specification? Besides the question of what Moshe was adding, we could ask a more basic question. What mountains was he referring to[3]? The Jews were in the desert.

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Tetzaveh 5782


Hashem’s concern for injustice[1]

ואלה הבגדים אשר יעשו חשן ואפוד וגו’ לאהרן אחיך וגו’ ועשו את-האפד זהב תכלת וארגמן וגו’ ועשית חשן משפט מעשה חשב וגו’‏
These are the garments that you shall make for Aharon, your brother: The Choshen and the Eiphod…You shall make the Eiphod out of gold, techeiles, and argaman…You shall make the Choshen of Justice, the work of a craftsman…[2]

One of the prominent features of parshas Tetzaveh is the focus on the bigdei Kehuna, the Priestly garments. The Kohanim had to wear four special articles of clothing for their Temple service to be accepted[3]. The Kohen Gadol had four additional articles of clothing as part of his uniform. The Torah introduces these special garments by first mentioning the Choshen, an ornate breastplate, and then mentions the Eiphod, a type of decorative apron. What’s interesting is when the Torah proceeds to describe how to make them, it starts with the Eiphod, and only then discusses the Choshen. Why is there this switch in the order?

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Terumah 5782


Permanent poles and constant candles[1]

בטבעת הארן יהיו הבדים לא יסרו ממנו
The poles shall remain in the rings of the Aron; they shall not be removed from it[2]

The Mishkan, also known as the Tabernacle, was the Jews’ portable Temple in the wilderness. When they encamped, they would construct it according to the Divine architecture given over by Moshe. When they would travel, they would pack everything up. Many of the vessels in this portable Temple had poles to allow easy transportation. Designated families of the Leviim would be tasked with carrying these vessels on their shoulders via these poles.

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