Vol 16.51 - Vayakhel-Pekudei                     Spanish French Audio  Video

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(5740) Rashi (Ex.35:26): "spun the goat's hair". That the women "spun it while it was still on the animals' backs" And the precision of Rashi's comment: "This was a craft of special skill" (and not "extra wisdom" like the Talmud (Shabbat 74b))

Why did they make the curtains (of the roof) first and afterwards the boards - which is the opposite of the "general custom" (minhag haOlam) (according to Rashi Pekudei 38:22).

The opinion of Rashi regarding the obligation of women in the construction of the Mishkan; The eternal lesson.  


Da'as Zekeinim explains why the coverings of the Tabernacle were made first of all, so that they should be ready to cover the beams as soon as they were built. In this way the Tabernacle would not be left "uncovered for a moment."

However, this solution appears to be problematic for two reasons:

 a.) Why should leaving the beams "uncovered for a moment" present a difficulty? What is the basis for this argument?

b.) Even if we could find a reason why, theoretically, the beams should not be left uncovered, nevertheless we find that practically they were indeed left uncovered for a considerable period of time. After the construction was complete the Torah states that they took its unassembled component parts to Moshe (Pekudei 39:33) From this we see that there was indeed no problem in leaving the beams "uncovered for a moment."

One might argue in defense of Da'as Zekeinim, that initially they Intended not to leave the beams uncovered for a moment, but as Rashi writes (ibid.), they 'Were unable to erect he Tabernacle due to its tremendous weight and that they therefore presented it to Moshe unassembled. Thus, the only reason the beams were left uncovered was due to a technical "hitch." It was nevertheless not the desired state of affairs.

However, this argument appears to be illogical. For if there a genuine problem in leaving the beams of the Tabernacle "uncovered for a moment." then they would not have waited for all the components of the Tabernacle to be made before bringing them to Moshe, Rather, as soon as the beams were made, and they had failed to mount coverings, they would have come to Moshe immediately and exclaimed, "The beams are uncovered! What are we to do?" In fact however, they left beams for a considerable time without seeking assistance from Moshe. From this we see that, in the very first instance, leaving the beams uncovered was not problematic.

So, having rejected Da'as Zekeinim's answer, we are left with his original question: Why were the coverings of the Tabernacle made first, before the walls? And why does Rashi fail to address this simple, logical question?

RASHI's SOLUTION: It be argued, however, that Rashi has indeed addressed the problem, in one of his earlier comments.

Above, we read, "All the women whose hearts inspired them with wisdom, spun the goats' hair" (35:26). Rashi comments, "This was exceptional craftsmanship, since they spun the goats' hair while it was still attached to the back of the goats."

This peculiar act of craftsmanship appears, at first glance, to make little sense:

  1. What was gained by spinning the goats' hair on the goats? Surely there was more significance to this act than a mere demonstration of skill?
  1. Why was only the goat's hair spun while on goats, whereas the wool (for the tapestries) was not spun while still the Sheep? In fact, sheep being much more docile than goats, would seem to have been the more logical choice.

THE EXPLANATION: Two reasons could be suggested for the "spinning of the goats' hair on the goats."

  1. As Sforno writes (ibid.), that when the hair is still attached, it remains fresher, since it absorbs moisture and nutrition from the body.
  2. An animal offering is superior a vegetable offering find Kayin brought an offering to G-d of flax, whereas Hevel brought animal offerings, and God accepted the latter - Bereshit 4:3ff. Thus, by contributing goats’ hair thread that was still attached to the goats, a person had the advantage of making a live animal offering to the Tabernacle (rather than a mere animal product). For this reason, the Jewish women inconvenienced themselves considerably to spin the goats' hair while it was still attached to the goats.

In the case of the wool donations however, this was not feasible, since unlike the goats' hair, the wool offerings were required to be woven thread of different colors (turquoise, purple and crimson), and this could not be carried out on a live animal, since the different-colored wools needed to be dyed separately.

ANSWER TO DA'AS ZEKEINIM'S Question: Based on the above, we can explain why the coverings of the Tabernacle were made before the walls (Da 'as Zekeinim's question):

Since the goats' hair was donated while still attached to the goats, it had to be shaven off immediately, for two reasons.

  1. If it was left attached, it would continue to grow, leaving a mixture  of spun and unspun hair.
  2. Leaving the hair spun while attached to the animal for any time longer than was halachically necessary would be considered cruelty to animals.

Since detached hair quickly loses its moisture (as Sforno explained), they decided to make the goats hair sheets and the tapestries immediately, so that the thread would be woven together while fresh.  Of the two coverings, the tapestries were the more important (since they formed the primary roof of the Tabernacle), so they were made first.

(Gutnik Chumash - Based on Likutei Sichos Vol. 16, p. 449ff.)


1. It has been mentioned many times that Rashi in his commentary on Torah takes note and comments on every aspect which is lacking an explanation according to the simple understanding of the verse (פשוטו של מקרא). And when something is difficult in the simple understanding of the verses and Rashi does not comment on it, one must say that, according to simple understanding of the verse, this is, at the very onset,

  • not questionable –
  • or that according to Pshat it is self-understood,
  • or this has been resolved through a previous comment in Rashi.

In the Parshiot Vayakhel-Pekudei there are many aspects which are not understood according to the simple understanding of the verse. Moreover - some of the questions arise mainly from Rashi’s comments.

One can, at least, choose one question in that Parsha:

In Parshat Vayakhel on the verse (ex: 35:26):

“And all the women whose hearts uplifted them with wisdom, spun the goat hair” (וְכָל הַנָּשִׁים אֲשֶׁר נָשָׂא לִבָּן אֹתָנָה בְּחָכְמָה טָווּ אֶת הָעִזִּים)

which means, as Rashi comments

They the women spun it on the backs of the goats” (טוו את העזים: היא היתה אומנות יתירה, שמעל גבי העזים טווין אותן)

meaning that they spun the wool (the hair (נוצה)) while it still was attached (באהאפטן) to the goats.

One must understand:

What virtue and benefit is there that is was “spun on the backs of the goats“?

Seemingly, it is the opposite. When the hair has been sheared from the goats, one can then spin it much easier then when it is “on the goats“. What is gained from that which the hair was spun “on the backs of the goats“?

Also - since the Torah relates how dear the work of the Mishkan was to the women (similar to what was mentioned previously: “The men came with the women“) that they displayed an extraordinary wisdom (אויסערגעוויינלעכע) and talent (פעאיקייט) in the spinning of the goats hair on the backs of the goats - why do we not find this also regarding the spinning of the wool (of the lower curtains/ יריעות התחתונות) which were made from Techailes and Argamon (blue and purple dyed wool) etc., which is stated previously (and it also emphasized there that it was made with wisdom)? Nevertheless it states: “And every wise hearted woman spun with her hands, and they brought spun material: blue, purple etc. “. Yet they did not spin the wool from the backs of the sheep?

2. In Rashi commentary in Parshat Pekudei, one must understand why he states that:

“Moshe commanded Bezalel to first make the vessels and afterwards the Mishkan. Bezalel responded, “It is common practice (מנהג עולם) to first make a house and then to put furniture into it.” He said to him, ‘This is what I heard from the mouth of the Holy One, blessed is He’. And so he did: Bezalel first made the Mishkan, and afterwards he made the furnishings."

It is not understood:

Since the manner and order of making the Mishkan was according to the “common practice”, therefore the “common practice” when building a house is that first one builds the walls and then the roof (די ווענט און דערנאך דעם דאך). This was indeed the way it was when erecting of the Mishkan. And in Parshat Vayakhel one finds that the wise-hearted first made the Yeriot (curtains - as a roof) and only afterward made the Kerashim/Walls (and so too was the order as they were commanded on this in Parshat Terumah).

The Baalei Tosafot answer that the Yeriot were made “first of all the work of the Mishkan in order that they be ready for a cover (לאהל) on the Mishkan immediately when they made the Kerashim so that there not be any delay without a covering (לא יהי׳ שעה אחת בלא כסוי׳)”.


(In addition to that which this itself demands a reason – why couldn’t the Kerashim be “one hour without a covering”? – )

in the simple understanding of the verse one cannot learn so, since from the plain meaning (פשטות) of the verses, one sees that they brought the Mishkan to Moshe only after all the parts and portions of the Mishkan were completed – the Yeriot, the Kerashim and all the vessels of the Mishkan- and only afterward did they set it up, as is understood. Therefore there is no difference what part was made first. Even if they had made the Kerashim first, like the “common practice”, they still would have, in any event, stood “more than an hour without a covering”, since they first erected it, only after the completion of the entire Mishkan.

This puzzlement, is not addressed by Rashi in any of the places (in Parshat Vayakhel and Parshat Pekudei).

3. One can understand this by prefacing two precise points in Rashi’s commentary in Parshat Vayakhel:

  1. Rashi goes out of his way to explain that “Spun the goat hair“ means “they spun it on the backs of the goats“. If so, he should have begun his comment with this and only afterward offer an additional aspect in this, namely, that this manner of spinning is a “superior skill“ (and so forth). And in general, how can Rashi begin with the words “This constituted a superior skill“, before we know what it is talking about here, and only afterward say the explanation of the verse – “they spun it on the backs of the goats“?
  2. Why does Rashi use the wording “superior skill“ (אומנות יתירה) – and not “(this was) superior wisdom (חכמה יתירה)“ which is the wording of the verse, as it states “And all the women whose hearts uplifted them with wisdom etc.“? This is especially so since in the Talmud, which is (plainly) the source of Rashi’s comment, it indeed states “superior wisdom“.

4. The explanation of this is:

Since the words: “spun the goat hair” is separated into an independent verse, and it is not included in the previous verse together with “And every wise hearted woman spun with her hands, and they brought spun material: blue, purple etc. “,

(Where they (the items and the goat hair) are indeed stated together, where they were first brought, and by the command of the offering),

and especially that this verse again repeats “And all the women whose hearts uplifted them with wisdom, spun“, it is self-understood that thisspinning (of the goat hair)” is different from the spinning in the previous verse, (and since spinning in the goats is not applicable) it means that that they spun the hair (- with) which was connected to the goats.

And the reason for this is also understandable to a five-year old:

Since regarding that which the Yidden contributed and brought for the Mishkan the offering to G-d - as a contribution and offering to G-d – there were, like the Korbanot, different categories: a korban from the animal, and from the vegetable,

(as we find in Parshat Bereshit regarding the offering of Cain and the offering of Hevel)

and a korban from an animal is more dear than a korban from a vegetable –

so too is it in our case:

When one can spin the thread of the hair when they are still attached to the goats (the category of animal) - this is a more worthy offering than if one would spin it from hair which is sheared off of the goats. Threads that are still attached to the animal (goats) grow. They have a connection to the animal species; they draw (יונק) from the body of the animal. Which is not so with the threads after they have been cut from the body of the animal.

And specifically if one would learn it plainly, namely that they brought the threads when they were still on the backs of the goats, it is simple to understand the virtue of this (עילוי שבזה). For at the time of the giving, it has the status of a living thing.

5. One can understand why only regarding the Yeriot of the goat hair, it states: “spun the goats hair” which is not found regarding the (woolen) Yeriot of the Techailes and Argamon (blue, purple) etc.

The woolen threads of the sheep had to be brought as

(- after they had been dyed (געפארבט) into)

Techailes (dyed with the blood of the Chilazon – blue/ בלוי)

and Argamon (purple/ פורפול) etc. –

This (dyeing) is not possible when the woolen threads are attached to the sheep. Therefore it comes out that this offering of the Techailes and Argamon etc., cannot be, immediately after their spinning from the sheep. And certainly not while they are still on the backs of the sheep.

Therefore, the spinning was not on the backs of the sheep, since the offering of the Terumah to G-d, can, in any event, not be in the (dearest/ משובח) manner of being attached (or at least close to this ) to the living animal.

6. On something like this which is self-understood from the verse, as aforementioned, Rashi forewarns:

 “This constituted a superior skill“ (אומנות יתירה).

The reason that the women “spun the goats hair” was not just because their “hearts uplifted them with wisdom“ (בחכמה׳) (which also includes) understanding, that through such a manner of spinning, it would be a worthier contribution and offering for the Mishkan, but also because, there was an improvement (בעסערקייט) and “quality of manufacture“ (אויסארבעטונג) in it - a superior skill. The actual spinning, when it is on the goat’s back, comes out manufactured better than the spinning of the hair which has been cut from the goats. For when the hairs are attached and draw from the animal, they have within them moisture and softness (לחלוחית און א ווייכקייט), which is a virtue in the craft of spinning.

7. According to the aforementioned, it is also understood why the Yeriot were made before the Kerashim/walls, even though the “common practice” is to make the Kerashim/walls beforehand. And because of both aforementioned aspects:

From the perspective of the dearness and alacrity of the women, they immediately made the spinning and brought it to the makers (of the Yeriot), while they were on the goats. They could not postpone (אפלייגן) the shearing (and making the Yeriot) until the sockets (אדנים) and the Kerashim were made– since in the interim each individual (פאר זיך) hair would grow without being spun together.

One could also say according to Halacha – that this is Tza’ar Baalei Chayim (cruelty to animals) (since they are not completely free – through the spinning). Therefore at the first opportunity, they cut off the threaded hair of the goats.

And since the spinning on the back of the goats is also a “superior skill“ – the spinning is better, as aforementioned - it is understood that, similarly, this is also regarding the work of the weaving of the Yeriot of the goats hair, namely that when the work of the weaving of the threads of the goat hair is in proximity to their attachment to the goats, then also the actual weaving (וועבן) is in a better manner, with an quality in the skill. And therefore, immediately after cutting the threads from the goats, they needed to weave the Yeriot.

8. From these wondrous aspects (ענינים מופלאים) according to Halacha which are taken out of Rashi’s commentary:

The question is known that since the Temple is not built at night (and similarly the “Mishkan which is called Mikdash”) this means that the building of the Temple is a time-bound Positive Mitzvah

(מ״ע שהזמן גרמא- Mitzvot Aseh Shehazman Grama)

and women are exempt (פטורות) from Mitzvot Aseh Shehazman Grama. Therefore how could the women spin the wool for the (building of the) Mishkan?

(According to the view of Rabbeinu Tam that a woman cannot prepare and do the preparation (צוגרייטן און טאן דעם הכשר) of such a Mitzvah in which she is not commanded. Therefore the Halacha is that “a woman may not tie the Lulav or make Tzitzit since she has not been commanded in it“)

The Rogotchover Gaon explains that in the Mitzvah of building the Mikdash there are two parts:

  1. The actual building of a Temple which is a Positive Mitzvah
  2.  That which there must be built a Mikdash where Korbanot can be offered (אויפגעבויט ווערן א מקדש אויף צו מקריב זיין קרבנות)

And this is the difference with regard to the aforementioned, namely whether women are obligated or exempt from the building of the Mikdash.

  • From the perspective of the Mitzvah of building the Mishkan and the Mikdash, it is a Mitzvat Aseh Shehazman Grama and women are exempt.
  • However, the second aspect and obligation namely that one must build a Mikdash where Korbanot can be offered, in this aspect women are also obligated, since they also have the obligation of offering Korbanot.

Therefore, in the portions and parts of the Mikdash which would preclude (מעכב) the offering of Korbanot, women are also obligated in their building and making. Whereas the parts and vessels of the Mikdash which do not withhold (in the offering of Korbanot), and their making is just because of the Mitzvah of building the Mikdash – from this type of making - women are exempt, and therefore also prohibited.

9. In our case. Regarding the Yeriot, the Talmud states that the verse “He spread the Ohel/Tent (האהל) over the Mishkan“ refers to the lower Yeriot (יריעות התתתונות - of linen, Techailes, Argamon and crimson wool). This means that with the lower Yeriot, the Mishkan already has the law of an Ohel/Tent and one can offer Korbanot there. It therefore comes out that that the upper Yeriot (יריעות שלמעלה מהן,), the Yeriot of goat hair, do not prevent the offering of Korbanot in the Mishkan (and the Mishkan is Kosher also when the Yeriot of goat hair were “blown over from the wind “ (קיפל הרוח).

According to this the reason for the difference of the wording of the verses is understood:

  • For regarding the lower Yeriot, it states: “And every wise hearted woman spun with her hands, and they brought spun material: blue, purple etc. “. For these Yeriot were necessary for the kashrut of the Mishkan (in order to offer Korbanot). Therefore even the women could do the work of spinning these Yeriot (joining in the work of the Mishkan).
  • Whereas regarding the Yeriot of goat hair, where these Yeriot are not a hindrance (עיכוב) in the Korbanot, as aforementioned. Therefore the women are exempt (and prohibited) to make them – therefore the verse uses the wording “spun the goat hair“ meaning that their spinning must be in a manner that “it was a superior wisdom and not work“ (דהוי חכמה יתירה ולא מלאכה), as the Talmud states in tractate Shabbat (74b) .

10. According to the aforementioned in Rashi’s comment – one can say that with the precise wording “superior skill“, Rashi is following his style – the way of Pshat (שיטתי׳ דרך הפשט).

On the verse “He spread the Ohel/Tent (האהל) over the Mishkan “, Rashi explains “They are the yeriot of goat hair“

(and this is like the simple meaning of the verse in Parshat Terumah “And you shall make curtains of goat hair for a tent (לאהל) over the Mishkan”)

According to this, it comes out that according to Rashi’s view (and the simple understanding of the verse) (even) the Yeriot of goat hair had the boundary of an “Ohel” which is related to, and prevents (מעכב) the offering of the Korbanot in the Mishkan.

According to this it is understood that also the Yeriot of goat hair could be made through the women. Therefore Rashi precisely points out (and changes, as aforementioned) and states that it was: “a superior skill “, meaning that their spinning was not just a wisdom, but also a labor (מלאכה). This is the innovation of the word “skill“ (אומנות) -that this is a labor in the body of the thing (מלאכה בגוף הדבר).

According to this, it is not necessary to say (like the commentators learn) that Rashi follows the opinion of the Talmud –

that “One who spins wool on the backs of the animal“ is exempt, since “it is not the (normal) manner of spinning to do so”. And the reason that, in the Mishkan, it was in a manner of “spinning the goats hair” is because “superior wisdom is different“ (חכמה יתירה שאני) –

but rather his comment can fit according to the first view that he is obligated, since this is a scope of the work (א גדר פון מלאכה).

And on the contrary:

Since all work is derived from the work in the Mishkan, one could say that according to Rashi (that this is a “skill”), this itself is the source of the opinion.

Since the spinning on the animal was among the acts that were done in the Mishkan, it is a proof that this is a “skill” and labor, and therefore one is obligated to offer a Korbanot Chatas (Sin Offering)

11. From the homiletic style of Torah in Rashi's commentary (Yayina shel Torah), and the lesson from it in Avodat HaShem:

Seemingly it is not understood:

Why does the Torah tell us that “And all the women whose hearts uplifted them with wisdom, spun the goat hair”? Whatever happened then happened (מאי דהוה הוה) – the Yeriot of goat hair were related just to the Mishkan, but not in the Mikdash (also including the future Mikdash, and specifically that it is “built and elaborate“ (בנוי ומשוכלל) and “will be revealed and come from Heaven”)

Similarly one must understand with regard to the second aspect – the making of the Yeriot before the making of the Kerashim/walls which is opposite of the “common practice”. What relation does this have for (future) generations?

However, from this one can take out two general lessons in the Avodah of the “Mishkan and Mikdash” which every Yid must accomplish (אויפמאכן) in the world in all times and places (as the Sages expound “It does not state (I will dwell) ’in it’ but rather ‘in them’“ – in each and every one of Yisroel.)

The first lesson is from the women who “ lifted up their hearts in it with wisdom“. When G-d gives to a Yid a special talent and ability, he must know that this is not for him alone, but he must utilize it in his Avodah to make of the world a Mishkan, an abode for G-d -

Just as it was with the women in the time of the building of the Mishkan. Since they possessed a special ability, which others did not have, they understood, that this very ability which G-d gave them must be used for building a Mishkan where the Shechinah would rest, the “I will dwell in them“.

Therefore, even though they were not commanded to make the spinning with such a “superior skill“, the Torah tells us that they alone were inspired to utilize this “superior skill“ for the sake of G-d’s Mishkan – and therefore Torah gives this as a lesson for generations.

And just as this is with regard to special abilities, and so forth, namely that a Yid must utilize them (אריינטאן) in the Avodah of making the world an abode for G-d, so too it is with regard to other aspects which G-d gave to the Yidden. For example, when G-d gives him an earning (פארדינסט) which is more than normal (געווענלעך), he must know that he must add in his giving of Tzedaka, an offering to G-d

(like the well-known story of the Alter Rebbe’s chosid who after, having a good week in his livelihood, was certain that when he came home, he would encounter the Rebbe’s letter concerning the awakening of giving Tzedaka, or the Rebbe’s emissary who collected for the needs for supporting the people of Eretz Yisroel).

12. The second lesson is, how much one should be careful not to create any pain to another person. For if, because of the pain of an animal (and not actual pain, but just a lack of convenience (אומבאקוועמלעכקייט), and so forth) one changes from the “common practice”, and G-d commands the making of the Yeriot before the Kerashim/walls of the Mishkan -

How much more so is this when it is speaking of the pain of a person? And specifically regarding Yidden, of which it states “You are called man“. And especially – when one sees that a Yid is in a condition and state of “nakedness” from Mitzvot (״ערום״ מן המצות), as it states in Tanna D’bei Eliyahu Rabbah that “there is no one more naked among Yisroel than one who devoid of Torah and Mitzvot “.

(Note: verse 58:7 in Yeshaya is expounded in the Sicha: “Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and moaning poor you shall bring home; when you see a naked one, you shall clothe him, and from your flesh you shall not hide” (הֲלוֹא פָרֹס לָרָעֵב לַחְמֶךָ וַעֲנִיִּים מְרוּדִים תָּבִיא בָיִת כִּי תִרְאֶה עָרֹם וְכִסִּיתוֹ וּמִבְּשָׂרְךָ לֹא תִתְעַלָּם)

However one could think that although he must indeed fulfill the Mitzvah of “clothing him” – “enclothing him in Tzitzit and Tefilin”. Yet there must be an order to this. First he must pray himself, and then go “from the house of prayer to the house of study” (מבית הכנסת לבית המדרש) – to study Torah, and he must eat breakfast – Pas Shacharit. And after this he must “earn a living“ (הנהג בהן מנהג דרך ארץ). And after all this –he will fulfill the “clothing him”.

Therefore, the Torah tells us that when one is dealing with the pain of another Yid –

And there is no greater pain than that of a Yid being “naked” from Mitzvot. And especially when one sees that he does not even see that he is “naked” -

In this case one must overturn the normal order, the “common practice” – and even when this is a custom, not just of the “world” (מנהג עולם) – meaning from the word concealment and hiddenness (העלם והסתר), but such a practice which G-d states that this is how one should conduct himself in G-d’s House. Nevertheless when it comes to a condition of pain of another Yid, one must not act like the “common practice”, but the first thing must be to forewarn the “clothing him” meaning enclothing him with Mitzvot. And only afterward – like the continuation of the verse after this – does he do what is related to himself (“and from your flesh you shall not hide“).

Similarly (and even before this) is it with regard to Torah study. As it states in the beginning of the verse (ibid) “Is it not to share your bread with the hungry  “there is no hunger than one who is starving from words of Torah and there is no bread except for Torah“ that he does this before: “and from your flesh you shall not hide “

And then one merits that even, for himself, It is fulfilled the verse: “not a famine for bread nor a thirst for water, but to hear the word of the L-rd“ of our righteous Moshiach, in the eternal Beit HaMikdash, which will be built through that which, in the time of Galut, everyone utilizes his abilities and talents which G-d gave him – to make the world a Mishkan and Mikdash to G-d.

MSichas Shabbat Parshat Vayakhel 5736

Motzai Shabbat Parshat Vayakhel-Pekudei 5739



Gutnik Chumash

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