Vol 26.32 - Vayakhel 2                       Spanish French Audio  Video

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(5746) (Ex. 35:5): "Take collect from among yourselves a terumah-offering to the L-rd. Every man whose heart impels him to generosity shall bring etc" - take (by force) or give freely;

In the command to Moshe (Beg. Parshat Terumah) it does not mention the manner of taking and giving and also not the offering of women.

The advantage of women over men, and the explanation of Zohar (beg. of our parsha 195a): ""And Moses gathered": . . .Just as there it was the entire community of Yisrael, so too here . . . and who is it? the six hundred thousand people."  


The Torah reading of Vayakhel begins with Moshe relating G‑d’s command that the Jews donate for the construction of the Mishkan. Moshe states it thus:1 “Take from among yourselves an offering to G‑d; whoever’s heart moves him shall bring the G‑dly offering.”

The commentators2 point to an apparent inconsistency in this verse: “Take from…” seems to imply that the offering was to be taken by force if necessary, while “whoever’s heart moves him shall bring ” indicates that it is to be given freely.

The commentators answer3 that the verse refers to two categories of gifts. The beginning alludes to the half-shekel offering that was to be taken from each Jew, while the latter part speaks of the voluntary gifts brought for the construction of the Mishkan.

We must, however, understand why the command as Moshe heard it speaks of “taking” — “They shall take unto Me terumah ”; “you shall take My Terumah ”; “This is the terumah that you shall take”4 — and makes no mention of “bringing,” as Moshe did when he related the command to the Jewish people.

The Mishkan served as an atonement for the sin of the Golden Calf, for which reason it was known as the “Mishkan of Testimony,” for the Divine Presence that was revealed there served as testimony to the Jewish people that G‑d had yielded to Moshe regarding their sin with the Golden Calf.5

The Jews emphasized their absolute contrition for the sin by giving their gold unstintingly for the construction of the Mishkan , to make up for their having given it for the construction of the Golden Calf. Their generosity thus reflected their great desire to have the Divine Presence reside in their midst — the very antithesis of the sin of the Golden Calf.

This is why the command regarding the gifts for the Mishkan, as given by G‑d to Moshe, stresses only the aspect of “taking,” while the verse in our Torah portion highlights the aspect of “giving” and “bringing.”

G‑d’s command to Moshe related to that which should be taken in by the Mishkan ’s treasurers, while the selfsame command, as related by Moshe, stressed the “giving” and “bringing” which underscored the Jewish people’s heartfelt joy in making these contributions — a feeling engendered by G‑d’s having forgiven them wholeheartedly and gladly6 for the sin of the Golden Calf.

The nation’s generosity was thus not the result of any command from above, and was of major significance not only with regard to being forgiven the sin of the Golden Calf, but even more importantly, for its contribution to the goal of having G‑d reside within the Jewish people through His presence in the Mishkan :

Although7 the Jews witnessed G‑d in all His glory at Sinai, they nevertheless succumbed soon afterwards to the sin of the Golden Calf. How could this have happened?

It was possible because the revelation at Sinai sprang strictly from above,8 i.e., the spiritual elevation brought about within the Jewish people did not result from their own service, but from G‑d’s self-revelation. It was thus possible that they would subsequently regress.

That the Jews became fitting permanent vessels for G‑dliness was a result of their wholehearted and joyous giving for the construction of the Mishkan. This resulted in a degree of permanent spiritual elevation, and brought about an eternal infusion of holiness into the physical materials with which the Mishkan was built.9

Based on Likkutei Sichos, Vol. XXVI, pp. 262-266

1.    Shmos 35:5.
2.    Klei Yakor, ibid.
3.    Klei Yakor, ibid. See also Seforno and Midrash HaGadol, ibid.
4.    Shmos 25:2-3.
5.    See Rashi beginning of portion Pekudei. See also Rashi , Vayikra 9:23.
6.    See Rashi, Shmos 33:11.
7.    See conclusion of Vayeired Havayah 5643; Likkutei Sichos, Vol. XI, p. 10.
8.    See Likkutei Torah, Re’eh, p. 28b; places cited in Likkutei Sichos, Vol. XV, p. 77 fn. 22.
9.    See Likkutei Sichos, Vol. XXI, p. 150ff


Let every generous-hearted person bring the contribution for G-d. Besides demonstrating the extent to which they regretted their involvement in the Golden Calf and their desire for G-d to once again dwell among them, the people’s enthusiasm in participating personally in offering the material for constructing the Tabernacle affected the very nature of the Tabernacle itself.

When G-d gave the Torah at Mount Sinai, it was, relatively, an act of His own initiative. As we have already seen, a revelation from above that is initiated from above has both advantages and disadvantages. The advantage of such a revelation is that it is not limited by the capacity of the recipients; since no preparatory work was done, G-d need not concern Himself with accommodating such preparations. The disadvantage is that since there was no preparation, the recipients have no way of retaining the revelation they receive, and therefore its effects are transitory. Thus, despite the transcendent revelations that accompanied the Giving of the Torah, its effect was only temporary. The mountain was so holy during the revelation that anyone who touched it was liable to die, but as soon as the revelation was over it reverted to its mundane state. The Jewish people achieved the exalted spiritual level of Adam before the sin, but this did not prevent them from sinning with the Golden Calf a mere forty days later.

With the construction of the Tabernacle, however, the people participated in preparing for the revelation that was to occur upon its completion. Therefore, via the Tabernacle, holiness became part and parcel of our existence. This, indeed, was its essence: G-d made His home among us.

In this context, the enthusiasm with which the people donated materials toward the Tabernacle’s construction expressed their willingness to have G-d dwell among them permanently. Their generosity and alacrity were what infused the Tabernacle with this quality, and by extension, what enabled the people themselves to be fit for the ongoing revelation of G-d’s presence in their own lives.14


14.    Likutei Sichot, vol. 26, pp. 265-266.




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