Weekly Parsha Review Laced with Humor and Sarcasm from The Oisvorfer Ruv

Vayakhale 2022: Oversubscribed!

Raboyseyee and Ladies,


We begin with some good news: if you find yourselves mentally occupied -your head is mamish elsewhere- during the laining this week, not to fret. Efsher you’re concerned about the war in the Ukraine and its effects on your stock portfolio; yikes, and don’t bother looking for a few days.  Perhaps you were planning a trip to Uman this year, a getaway from your wife and kids this coming Rosh Hoshona and or Yom Kippur, and your plans are now up in smoke. Speaking of Uman, let’s shout out the ladies of the night, who rely on these holidays -prime time mamish- to make their living servicing those who miss their wives so terribly, if you chap. Aren’t they deserving of our support? Or, perhaps you’re thinking about the pending rabbinic changes in your shul or elsewhere. Whatever the case and the cause, relax and don’t feel bad or guilty. Why not? Because Parshas Vayakhale is a repeat -unlike this week’s review, all new for 2022- of parshas recently read to include Teruma, Tetzaveh and parts of Ki Sisa. Why the RBSO decided to repeat every detail, ver veyst, and certainly above my pay grade. The bottom line: not one word is repeated in the heylige Toirah -so the rebbe taught us while waving his big stick and also using it from time to time to make his point- until it is. They forgot to teach us that while the heylige Toirah does not have any extra words, it may well have a few extra parshas. Shoin!

And when things are repeated, of course there’s a reason. What that reason is, ver veyst. The bottom line: Even Rashi, who has an opinion on kimat every posik in the heylige Toirah, is mostly silent this week. Did he sneak out to the kiddish club to share his latest selections of wines with the chevra? More good news: you’ll be hearing more about the Mishkan in next week’s parsha of Pikudai.

Another bottom line: Parshas Vayakhale, read this iber-yur (leap year) as a singleton, recounts the campaign effort, fundraising activities, and donations requested, of the various materials needed for the Mishkan Project, the centerpiece of the entire Sefer Shmois. Massive amounts of precious metals, animal skins, wool, dyes, wood, spices and other materials had to be amassed to build this magnificent structure. None of it could be purchased, borrowed or captured in battle from gentile nations. Such booty was to come later. Everything had to come directly from individual Jewish men and women. The good news: women were major contributors as mentioned in the text itself. Then again, we were taught that many items of value did in fact wash up when the RBSO drowned the Mitzrim. What did the Yiddin leave Mitzrayim with and what washed up, ver veyst?

Let us also recall that the entire Exodus, freedom mamish from several hundred years of slavery, is described in but one posik towards the end of Parshas Boi. The eygel caper -last week’s parsha- though talked about and still discussed over 3300 years later, is well covered in an impressive 35 pisukim. That being said, it  pales by comparison -as does any one particular subject matter in the entire heylige Toirah- when compared to the verbosity on the Mishkan. Space dedicated to the RBSO’s House -so to speak- is covered in four and one half parshas. The project was massive and important.

Not much controversy in the parsha, ober a few commentators chimed in on what appears to be an internal inconsistency in one posik (Shmois 36:7) where we read of the great success of the first ever -and perhaps most successful- building campaign. It was mamish oversubscribed! Let’s summarize a few pisukim and then take a look at posik 7 innaveynig.

The RBSO commanded the Yiddin to donate towards the building of a Mishkan that would serve as an earthly abode for the Divine. They were to give precious metals, animal hides, wood, and other materials, all to be used for the building of the structure its utensils. They responded with gusto (Shmois 35:21-29): “Every man whose heart uplifted him came, and everyone whose spirit inspired him to generosity brought the offering of the RBSO … Every man and woman whose heart inspired them to generosity to bring for all the work that the RBSO had commanded to make, through Moishe, the Children of Israel brought a gift for the RBSO.” The bottom line: the men came, the women came; everyone was happy, if you chap.  In an outpouring of largesse, the Yiddin donated their possessions to furnish the Mishkan and its adornments. Ober, when the artisans -those working with their hands mamish- began sifting through the donations, they were surprised to discover -in pisukim 5-6- that it was too much. Too much had been donated. So much so, that Moishe had to tell them it was enough.

Says the heylige Toirah “The people are bringing very much, more than is enough for the “labor” of the articles which the RBSO had commanded to do”. The people had brought too much gold and too much silver. OMG! They exceeded the stated fundraising goal. Oif mir gizugt! It was a fundraiser’s dream. Were they feeling guilty about the eygel conspiracy and trying to buy their way back into the RBSO’s good graces with money and other zachin? Perhaps, and at least according to the pshat claiming the Mishkan was ordered up following the eygel fiasco. What to do? Moishe quickly addressed the “problem” in posik 6 azoy: “Moishe commanded and they announced in the camp, saying: ‘Let no man or woman do any more “work” for the offering for the Holy.’ So the people stopped bringing.” And let’s now read posik 7. “And the work was sufficient for them for all the work, to do it- and having a surplus.” Remember that word “work;” lots more to say on that word below.

וְהַמְּלָאכָ֗ה הָיְתָ֥ה דַיָּ֛ם לְכׇל־הַמְּלָאכָ֖ה לַעֲשׂ֣וֹת אֹתָ֑הּ וְהוֹתֵֽר׃         

The campaign, all agree, was a smashing success; something crazy happened: interest was high, and pledges turned into actual donations. Enough and more of all items requested, were donated. Of great interest to the heylige Ois and seemingly to a few others, is the interpretation and deeper meaning of this last posik, and let’s begin with the actual English interpretations found in a few different Chumoshim.  Notice the slight changes.

Rabbi Art Scroll on posik 7: “And the work was sufficient for them for all the work, to do it- and having a surplus.”

Chumash Kol Menachem (affiliated with Chabad)): “The work (which people had done to bring the donations) was sufficient for (those who built the Tabernacle) to do all the necessary (construction) work, and to leave a surplus.”

Sefaria: “Their efforts had been more than enough for all the task to be done.”

Chabad: And the work was sufficient for them for all the work, to do it and to leave over.

And the question is azoy: were the donations sufficient, just enough? Or, was the campaign too successful, and too much was donated? The heylige Toirah -in posik 7- says simultaneously that the communal work for the Mishkan (Tabernacle) was both sufficient, which would seem to imply that it was exactly enough, and that there remained leftovers. What’s taka pshat? Are the words of the posik not mutually exclusive? As it turns out, many an exegete was troubled by this expression. If there was enough then there wasn’t extra and if there was extra, then why say it was enough? How can there be a sufficient amount and yet too much, both in the same posik? Moreover, what’s pshat too much came in? Since when is a campaign too successful? Have you ever seen a shul or school, return your donation because they had raised too much money? Have you ever participated in a Yom Kippur appeal where the president or rabbi stated “I’m sorry, no more donations accepted?” Mistama not, as such an event has never -ever- taken place. Who does that?

Those in the dialing-for-dollars gisheft -also a nice profession- must have experienced heart palpitations when reading what went down in the parsha. While they’re busy with raffles, videos that tug at your heartstrings, dinners, and any other trick in their collective armamentariums, Moishe called out to close down the appeal? As an aside, has a schnorrer -after ringing and knocking relentlessly to be let in- ever suggested that you kindly donate a smaller amount because he/she doesn’t need the money, that he’s met his goal? Also not! Does one get punished for exceeding fundraising goals? Why taka did Moishe tell the people to stop bringing?

Let’s dig further. The Mishkan -built in year one of their forty-year stint- was going to be around for a while. Things would break. The Mishkan  might require upgrades. Efsher, the RBSO would call for it to be redecorated at some point? Renovated completely? Would it be so giferlich to have reserves just in case? Is less more? Not! More is zicher more! Since when is having “too much” gold lying around a problem?  Yet for some reason, Moishe tells the people to stand down. What’s pshat?

Ober, says the Ohr HaChaim so gishmak, azoy: in reality, the Yiddin -led by the women -as we have mentioned in the past – enthusiastically donated so much that the total contributions were actually more than was necessary for the building of the Mishkan. The RBSO was concerned that if there were leftovers after the Mishkan was complete, some donors may have been saddened at the thought that their donations hadn’t been used. He therefore performed yet another neys (miracle) and arranged that all -everything donated- would be put to use, causing the excessive donations to appear to be just right. Shoin, no more conflict in the wording. He also adds this: the problem was not with the gold and silver, but with the raw materials that might go bad. Wood and wool must be stored properly in order to withstand the elements and Moishe did not want that headache.

And says the Sichos Tzaddikim azoy: had the donations for the Mishkan been precisely sufficient, every contributor would claim that the success of the Mishkan was dependent upon his personal contribution, without which the entire project would have failed. This would result in tremendous communal conceit. What’s wrong with some pride and conceit? Says the heylige Gemora (Soitah 5a) that arrogant people prevent the presence of the Shechinah (Divine Presence) and given that the entire purpose of the Mishkan was to create a place for the RBSO’s Presence to rest, it was necessary that the donations be slightly more than required in order to be considered sufficient. No one person could claim credit. Let’s try a few other flavors.

Says the Meshech Chochma, azoy: there was indeed good rationale for a call by Moishe to end the campaign and it goes azoy: items donated become consecrated to the Mishkan or to the Beis HaMikdash and attain a certain level of kidusha (holiness). The sin of me’ilah (benefitting from consecrated property in a forbidden manner) removes the objects from the ownership of the Beis HaMikdash; donated items return to their original mundane status. An overabundance of consecrated materials might lead to me’ilah. It was an accident waiting to happen. To avoid me’ilah on a large scale, Moishe called off the campaign.

Says the Seforno so creatively azoy: when Moishe saw the people had reached the fund-raising goal, he did not tell them to “stop bringing donations”. Rather, he told them, “Let no man or woman do any more work”. And the difference? Semantics? Not! Explains the Seforno that the Yiddin donated raw material: gold and silver coins, wool, animal hides, and wood planks. The raw material required processing before it could be used in the Mishkan: The wood had to be cut and sanded, the wool had to be woven into thread, the animal hides had to be cleaned, and the gold and silver had to be melted, purified, and molded.  Moreover, let us recall that items donated to the Mishkan were often rare, as well as being extremely expensive and precious. They included valuable stones, animal skins, spices, silver, and gold. And let’s not forget the turquoise wool, which was extremely difficult to make as it required the secretion of a rare amphibious animal known as a chilozon (check out the heylige Gemora Menachos 24a). This item too was somehow miraculously donated. In case you forgot, only a tiny amount of color was exacted from the sea creature, so the wool was extremely laborious to create and used by nobility in their robes and clothes. Why people played dress up in the midbar, ver veyst? On the other hand, what else was there to do all day? As an aside, and FYI,  the heylige Ois dug this up: Israeli archaeologists have uncovered -so they tell us- purple colored wool in excavations matching this description. Back to the Seforno who tells us that after sufficient raw material had been processed, Moishe merely told the people that there is no need for them to process any additional raw material – “Do no more work.” In other words: don’t bring raw materials that require processing. Gold and silver always welcome. Spoken like a true fundraiser. Givaldig!

Moishe announced, “No man or woman shall do more work for the donation towards the sanctuary,” whereupon the people stopped bringing materials (36:6). The problem was not that too much “work” was being done, but rather that too many materials were being donated. Oib azoy (if that’s so) just what did Moishe mean when he asked the people to stop performing “work” (“melocho”)? Why weren’t his instructions clear? What is the melocho he was referring to? Listen to this: The heylige Gemora (Shabbis 96b), as understood by Rabbeinu Chananel (cited by Toisfis s.v. u-mi-mai), infers from this wording and posik that bringing something from one place to another, falls under the category of “melocho.” Pshat is azoy: Moishe taka asked the people not to bring any more materials, and the word “melocho” in this context refers to this activity, demonstrating that even transporting an object has the status of “work.”  Says Rabbani Chananel azoy: this posik is the source for the inclusion of hoitzo’a (carrying an object from one domain to another on the heylige Shabbis) which is among the activities that are defined as “melocho” and hence forbidden on shabbis. And let’s not forget that our rabbis deduced the 39 forbidden melochos from this week’s parsha.

Shoin, and now let’s jog your collective memories for a moment and remind you that the word “melocho” can -in other textual matters- take on yet another meaning. Let us harken back to Yoisef Hatzadik and recall what happened when the relentless eishes Potiphar (Mrs. Potiphar) made several attempts to seduce him. Says the heylige Toirah (Bereishis 39:11), azoy: “One such day, he came into the house to do his work.”

 יא) וַיְהִי֙ כְּהַיּ֣וֹם הַזֶּ֔ה וַיָּבֹ֥א הַבַּ֖יְתָה לַעֲשׂ֣וֹת מְלַאכְתּ֑וֹ וְאֵ֨ין אִ֜ישׁ מֵאַנְשֵׁ֥י הַבַּ֛יִת שָׁ֖ם בַּבָּֽיִת׃

The heylige Gemora (Soitah 36b) brings down a famous machloikes (dispute) between Rav and Shmuel; let’s read it innavenyig:  לעשות מלאכתו -TO DO HIS WORK — Rav and Shmuel differ as to what this means. One holds that it means, his actual house-work; the other that it means to associate with her -pshat being that Yoisef was -willingly- about to succumb to her advances, but a vision of his father’s face appeared to him and he resisted temptation and did not sin. His melocho (work load) was interrupted, if you chap. Bottom line: melocho has several meanings.

Another view: Says the Malbim that Moishe did not, in fact, ask the people to stop donating materials. He welcomed the excess materials which could be stored in a special treasury for use in the Mishkan as needed in the future.  His request was only that the people stop producing the specific items that were needed. By way of example, the heylige Toirah in 35:25-26 mentioned that women produced sheets of wool for the Mishkan. Pshat is azoy:  we can imagine that people produced small metal items such as rings and hooks that were needed in the Mishkan.  In light of the artisans’ report of an overabundance of materials, Moishe asked the people to stop producing these items, but he did not request that they stop bringing raw materials, which could be stored and used at some later point. On the other hand, the posik concludes with “Va’yi’ko’lay ho’am may’hovi” (The people desisted from bringing) stating explicitly that all donations were discontinued. Malbim explains that although Moishe requested only that the production of certain utensils be discontinued, the people realized that no more donations were needed, and so they stopped donating.

Ober says the Ramban that Moishe formulated his instructions in such a way that it applied to both those who produced items to be used in building the Mishkan, and those who brought raw materials.  Moishe addressed both the men and the women – “No man nor woman shall do more work…” – and he thus spoke both of the wool produced by the women (as mentioned earlier), and the materials supplied by the men.  And the term “melocho,” can mean not only “work,” but also “possessions.”  It does? Back in Mishpotim (22:7), in discussing the case of a guardian who tampers with the property entrusted to him, the heylige Toirah speaks of “meleches ray’eihu” (“his fellow’s property).”  He also notes Yaakov’s response to Eisav’s offer that they travel together, in which he tells Eisav to travel ahead and that he will travel at a pace appropriate for “ha-melocho asher lefonai” (the large amount of possessions he had with him (Bereishis 33:14).  Likewise, as the Ramban cites, Sefer Shemuel I (15:9) speaks of the property of the Amalekites seized by the Yiddin with the term “melocho.” The word is seemingly ubiquitous. Ramban suggests that Moishe included in his announcement – that “melocho” be discontinued –both meanings of this word: the work performed by the women to produce sheets of wool, and the men’s donations of raw materials.  These are both indicated by the word “melocho.” Moishe announced that no more materials at all should be brought – neither those which were produced, nor those which would be brought.

We will close with two more views. Said the Apta Rebbe so gishmak, azoy: Moishe’s announcement was in fact directed towards the artisans who had begun building the Mishkan and its furnishings.  He instructed them to temporarily discontinue their work, because the sound and commotion produced by the flurry of activity generated a great deal of excitement and enthusiasm among the people, igniting a passionate desire to continue bringing donations. Moishe chose to solve the problem of excess materials by suspending the work on the Mishkan, so that the people’s excitement would subside and they would thus stop bringing the materials. The bottom line: when people get very excited, they are eager to do melocho, no matter the variety, if you chap.

And let’s close with the Kol Mevaser, who says that the last word in posik 7 -quoted above- the word  “vehoiser” (the extra stuff) is referring not to the donations, rather to the desire of the people. in other words: the Yiddin has left over desire, of course. Upon completing their contributions, the people wanted to continue to give. Says the Divrei Yisrael (of Modzitz) so very gishmak azoy: the strong desire to give and participate has been passed down to all generations. Our desire to give tzedoko (charity) in every variety is driven by the ‘left over’ desire of the Yiddin of the midbar generation when donating to the Mishkan. This concept, to give what’s needed and beyond, is now part of DNA. The final bottom line: the RBSO cares about sincere intentions and efforts to increase His glory; extra donations are always accepted, and will hopefully never go to waste.


A gittin Shabbis-

The Heylige Oisvorfer Ruv

Yitz Grossman

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