Vol 21.33 - Vayakhel-Pekudei            Spanish French Audio  Video

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Sefer HaMitzvot P20


(5743) The connection between these Parshiot to their names and their connection together.
Three manners of the connection of the, vessels of the Mishkan, to the Mishkan.

Explanation of Rambam's Sefer HaMitzvot pos 20  



1. This year the Parshios (Torah portions) of Vayakhel and Pekudei are read together on one Shabbos.

2. We know that generally the name of something hints at what the thing is all about. This is especially so with regards to the name of a Parshah (Torah portion) because everything in the Torah is perfectly exact.

Let us examine our two portions of this Shabbos and see if their names fit with their content:

Parshas Vayakhel: The word “Vayakhel” means to gather together as one unit. The content of the Parshah however is all about individual utensils which Hashem (G-d) was instructing to be made. How does this make sense? Not only does the name of the Parshah not fit with its content, the content is actually the total opposite idea of the name!?

Parshas Pekudei: The word “Pekudei” means to count, and obviously we can only count things if they are individual things, otherwise there would be no need to count. However, the content of Parshas Pekudei is about the culmination of the making of the Mishkan (Tabernacle). Parshas Pekudei tells us the final amount of all the individual materials (gold, silver, copper…) donated by the Jewish people to the Mishkan and how the utensils (the Menorah, the Altar…) were finished and brought together as one to make up one big Mishkan. Again, how does this fit with the name of the Parshah which stresses individuality (to count)?

In short, how does each Portion’s name fit with its content?

Furthermore, how do the two Portions fit with each other? How can we read them together if they each stress a different theme? Parshas Vayakhel’s content stresses individuality while Parshas Pekudei’s content stresses community?

3. The Rebbe now builds the foundation for the answer:

There are three ways we can understand what a unit made up of individual things is:

1) Each one of the parts on its own (before becoming a unit) is nothing, and they are only there to make up a unit. In other words, the making of each part is only a preparation for the unit.

(An example that illustrates this point can be seen from the fact that one string on its own is not Holy at all, however when it is put together with the other required strings and attached to a garment they now have the Holiness of Tzitzis).

In our case of the Mishkan this would mean that each one of the utensils (made for the Tabernacle) on its own is not Holy; only when they come together to make up one big Tabernacle is there a general Holiness.

2) Even before the parts come together to make one big unit they are special, and the accomplishment of the parts coming together to make one unit is that there is now one big entity of special parts which has a collective greatness.

(An example that illustrates this point can be seen from the Jewish people; each Jewish person on their own is Holy, however when ten Jews come together (which forms a “Minyan”) an even greater amount of Holiness resides there).

In our case of the Mishkan this would mean that each utensil on its own is Holy and when we bring all the utensils together this forms one big Holy entity- the Mishkan.

3) This third way is a mixture of one and two: Before all the parts are brought together to make one unit they are not special (like the first way), however after the unit is made each part attains a uniqueness (like the second way) besides for the collective greatness.

(An example that illustrates this point can actually be seen from our subject matter itself- the Mishkan: Before the Mishkan was completely finished, the Holy of Holies (Kodesh Hakadashim), the Tent of Meeting (Ohel Moed), and the courtyard (Chatzer), didn’t have their respective Holiness of being Hashem’s dwelling place in the world. However after the Mishkan was complete, each sector had its particular Holiness, in addition to the general Holiness of the Mishkan).

In our case of the Mishkan this would mean that before the utensils were brought together to make a Mishkan they weren’t Holy, however after the Mishkan was made each utensil has its unique way of expressing G-dliness. 
4. The Rebbe now answers our questions:

The Rambam (Maimonides) teaches us that the abovementioned third way of understanding what a unit is, is indeed the true meaning.

And this is exactly what the Torah portions Vayakhel and Pekudei are telling us:

In Parshas Vayakhel Hashem tells the Jewish people to make each of the utensils, and this screams individuality. However the name of the Parshah (“Vayakhel – gathering together as one”) tells us that the making of the utensils was with the mindset that they are only being built to make one big Mishkan.

Then comes Parshas Pekudei. Parshas Pekudei is about the Mishkan being finished as one big unit, while the name “Pekudei – counting (individuality)” tells us that since the Mishkan is now complete, each one of the utensils has its own unique Holiness.

We have therefore explained how each Parshah’s name fits with its content, and how the two portions fit together.

5. The Rebbe now tells us the lesson we can learn from this to incorporate into our daily lives:

Concerning the building of the Mishkan Hashem said, “Make for me a dwelling place and I will dwell in them”. Our Sages wonder why Hashem said, “in them”, in the plural form, if He was only referring to one thing- the Mishkan? Our Sages answer that, “in them”, means in every single Jew; if a Jew runs his or her life according to Hashem’s will, Hashem promises that He will dwell in them.

Now since every Jew is a “mini-Mishkan”- we must be made like a Mishkan. Therefore the lesson we just learnt from Parshas Vayakhel-Pekudei regarding the Mishkan must also apply to every single Jew (in addition to the fact that in general the Torah and its lessons are everlasting).

The lesson:

A Jew must know that firstly he is part of a unit. Just like we said with regards to the utensils in the Mishkan that their whole being was that they made up one Mishkan; a Jew is a part of the whole family of Jewish people. We must also know that after we include ourselves in the community of Jewish people as a whole, we each become something unique and special.

(This also explains why we include ourselves in the big unit of Jews by accepting the commandment “to love your fellow Jew as yourself” before we pray to Hashem for our specific needs).

Translated and adapted by Shalom Goldberg. Taken from Likutei Sichos volume twenty two, third Sicha. http://crownheights.info/something-jewish/24947/sicha-of-the-rebbe-parshas-vayakhel-pekudei/


Three Different Conceptions

As mentioned,1 the Ram­bam does not consider the fashion­ing of the utensils of the Beis HaMikdash — the al­tars, the menorah, the table for the showbread — as mitzvos in their own right. Instead, his concep­tion is that these activities are all included in the mitzvah of constructing the Beis HaMikdash.

We can understand the Rambam’s conception of the rela­tionship between these utensils and the Beis HaMikdash by com­paring it to a frequently used Rabbinic conception — the rela­tionship between the individual elements (yrp) of a greater whole (kkf), to that whole.2 In general, there are three ways of describing this relationship: a) The particular elements have no importance in their own right. Their existence assumes signifi­cance only when they are united and forged into a greater entity. To use slightly different wording — the existence of the individual elements is merely a preparation for their ultimate inclusion into the greater whole.

To cite a halachic example: A single strand of tzitzis is of no significance whatsoever. When, however, it is joined with three other strands and they are tied in the proper manner producing eight strands, a tzitzah is formed which can be used — together with three others — to fulfill the command of the Torah.

b) The particular elements are each considered important in their own right. Nevertheless, a new and more encompassing significance is generated when they come together to form the whole. For example, the formation of a minyan when ten men come together for prayer. Every individual person possesses a certain dimension of holiness. Nevertheless, the union of ten individuals, establishing a communal entity, generates a far greater degree of holiness.

c) The particular elements of the greater whole are not individually significant. Nevertheless, after the greater whole has been established, each of the particular entities also is granted a measure of individual importance.

This concept can be illustrated by using an example from the Beis HaMikdash itself. The Beis HaMikdash is composed of several different elements: the Courtyard,3 the Sanctuary, and the Holy of Holies. Until the Beis HaMikdash as a whole was completed, none of these particular elements had any holiness attached to it. Once the Beis HaMikdash was sanctified, however, each of these particular elements was granted a degree of holi­ness of its own in addition to the holiness of the Beis HaMikdash as a whole.

This concept is reflected in the designation of each of these portions of the Beis HaMikdash as a different category of holi­ness: “The Courtyard of the Israelites is holier than the Women’s Courtyard.... The Sanctuary is holier.... The chamber of the Holy of Holies is holier than it.”4

The distinct status of each of these portions of the Beis HaMikdash is further emphasized by a law which states5 that an object that was dedicated to be used for the construction of one of these portions may not be used for the construction of a dif­ferent portion.6

Applying These Concepts to the Utensils of the Beis HaMikdash

According to the first con­ception, it can be explained that the different utensils nec­essary for the construction of the Beis HaMikdash had no in­dependent importance of their own. When, however, the Beis HaMikdash was completed, these utensils received importance as parts of this greater whole.7

According to the second conception, the utensils possessed importance as sacred articles even before the Beis HaMikdash was constructed. When, however, they were included in that structure, they and the structure as a whole, were granted a new dimension of sanctity; for the Beis HaMikdash, the resting place for G‑d’s Presence, had been completed.

According to the third conception, the utensils of the Beis HaMikdash did not, originally, possess any sanctity. Neverthe­less, after the Beis HaMikdash was constructed, these utensils were endowed, not only with the sanctity of the Beis HaMikdash as a whole, but were also granted a measure in their own right.8

Differences in Halachah stemming from these Three Approaches

The utensils of the Beis HaMikdash must be fashioned for the sake of being used for this holy purpose.9 Accord­ingly, the three different approaches mentioned above are sig­nificant in regard to the intent a person must have when fash­ioning such a utensil.

According to the first approach, one must have the intent that one is fashioning a portion of the Beis HaMikdash. Accord­ing to the second approach, one must have in mind the sacred nature of the particular utensil one is fashioning. And according to the third approach, both intents — that one is fashioning a portion of the Beis HaMikdash as a whole, and that one is mak­ing a utensil which will possess its own unique holiness — are required.

A second difference results from the law prohibiting the construction of the Beis HaMikdash at night.10 According to the first and third approaches, since fashioning the utensils is con­sidered as part of the construction of the Beis HaMikdash, this prohibition applies to the utensils as well. Since, by contrast, the second approach sees these utensils as having an independent measure of holiness, they are granted importance of their own. Fashioning them, thus, can be viewed a distinct act, separate from the construction of the Beis HaMik­dash, and is, therefore, permitted at night.

The Rambam’s Approach

From a careful analysis of the wording used by the Ram­bam in Sefer HaMitzvos, we can reach a conclusion concerning his approach to this issue. There the Rambam states:

This charge of a general nature, the commandment to make a Sanctuary, includes many diverse elements: the menorah, the table for the showbread, the altar, and others. All of these are parts of the Sanctuary and they are all included under this name, despite the fact that there is an individual commandment for each of these elements.

This implies that the commandment to make a Sanctuary for G‑d is to include “many diverse elements.” Although a sin­gle identity is intended to permeate the entire structure, the existence of different utensils that have a unique measure of holiness of their own is not considered a contradiction to their being part of this greater whole.

May the intent necessary when fashioning the utensils of the Beis HaMikdash soon be a matter of actual and not abstract con­cern, with the coming of the Redemption, when we will join in the construction of the Third Beis HaMikdash. And may this take place in the immediate future.

https://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/148161/jewish/The-Bais-Hamikdash-and-its-Utensils.htm. Adapted from Likkutei Sichos, Vol. XXI, Vayakhel-Pekudei

1.    See the previous essay entitled “The Purpose of Building the Beis HaMikdash” and the sources mentioned there.

2.    The Rambam discusses this matter in Sefer HaMitzvos, positive commandment 20. Although the traditional translation of the text does not mention the terms kkf and yrp, sig­nificantly, a more modern translation of that text, that of Rav Kapach, does employ these terms.

3.    More particularly, the courtyard of the Beis HaMikdash itself subdivides into several different elements: the courtyard of the Israelites, the courtyard of the Priests, and the area between the altar and the Ulam (the entrance hall of the Beis HaMikdash). See Hilchos Beis HaBechirah 7:18-20.

4.    Op cit.:18-22.

5.   Hilchos Temurah 4:11.

6.   Moreover, it can be explained that the particular holiness associated with these different elements of the Beis HaMikdash remains even after the destruction of the Beis HaMikdash. This is indicated by the Rambam’s ruling (Hilchos Beis HaBechirah 6:15) that we may offer sacrifices even though the Beis HaMikdash is destroyed and partake of sacrifices of the most holy order (ohase hase) in the area of the court­yard of the Beis HaMikdash although it is not surrounded by a divider. This ruling implies that not only the sanctity of the Beis HaMikdash as a whole remains after its destruction (see op. cit.:16), but also intact is the holiness associated with its particu­lar elements.

7.   According to this conception, the commandment for the priests to cover the differ­ent utensils of the Sanctuary while it was being transported (Bamidbar, ch. 4) does not result from the holiness those utensils received as portions of the Sanctuary. For at that time, the Sanctuary had already been dismantled. Rather, it is a new and independent command.

8.   Alternatively, one might explain that even if the utensils possessed a certain meas­ure of sanctity before the Beis HaMikdash was completed, the completion of that structure endowed these utensils not only with the sanctity involved with the Beis HaMikdash as a whole, but with a greater measure of individual sanctity.

9.    Hilchos Beis HaBechirah 1:20.

10.   Op. cit.








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