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Vayakhel (and he assembled)

Exodus 35:1 to 38:20, 1 Kings 7:13-26 and 1 Kings 7:40-50


The command to not work on Shabbat had priority over the command to build the Tabernacle. In context, the instruction to not light a fire in your home on Shabbat seems an inclusive measure to define how much effort counts as "work".

Unlike the census, there are no officials who collect things from the people. Each person brought his or her own donation for the Tabernacle's construction.

Traditional Jewish Commentary

The Hebrew of verse 35:22 tells us that the women made donations before the men.

In the commentary on this Parasha in the Tz'enah Ur'enah we find two stories about charity. One is about Abba Chilkiah and his wife; the other is about Mar Ukva and his wife. The moral of both stories is that women's charity of prepared food is more esteemed by God because the poor can enjoy it immediately, whereas a man's charity of money is esteemed less since it requires work (shopping) before enjoyment. The passage ends with: "Charity saves a person from two things: from the Angel of Death, and from Hell."

In verse 32:2, when gold is donated to make the golden calf, Aharon speaks only to the men. The Tz'enah Ur'enah, because of verse 35:22, interprets this to mean that the Israelite women were themselves unwilling to give up the gold for the calf. In other words, the women refused to donate gold to idolatry and were first to donate gold to the Tabernacle. The passage concludes by saying this "shows their particular stature."

A tradition of Chazal says Hur was killed for opposing the making of the golden calf, and his grandson, B'tsal'el, was only thirteen when selected (verse 35:30) to be the chief craftsman for constructing the Tabernacle.

There is a Hasidic saying, "Where does God dwell? Any place God is invited."

Jonathan Kaplan writes, "Note that God does not already dwell with Israel (or does not come to dwell with them) because Israel is on some spiritual high or because they hold to a right set of doctrines. Rather God dwells with this people because they set out the welcome mat of ordering their lives according to God's time schedule, of assembling all of their finest gifts to prepare for God's coming, and of fashioning a room for God crafted out of the most precious of materials."