Vayakhel: Building the Shabbat

March 01, 2019 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
“The laws of Shabbat…are like a mountain being held up by a thread” (Chagigah 10a). Shabbat is the pivot around which Jewish life revolves. Its laws are vast and detailed, and are applicable week in and week out. Yet beyond the mitzvah to “remember” and “guard” the Shabbat, we are told next to nothing about how to observe it. One little verse—“Do not light a fire in all your dwelling places...
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Vayakhel: Gather the People

March 09, 2018 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
“When Aaron and all the Israelites saw that the skin of Moshe’s face was shining with a brilliant light they were afraid to come close to him (Shemot 34:30).” How effective can a leader be when his followers are afraid to come near him? Moshe Rabbeinu having spoken face to face with G-d, knew that his effectiveness was dependent on having the people relate to him and on his being accessible to them. “The people come to...
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Vayakhel: Voluntary Obligations

March 04, 2016 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
  How important is intent in the performance of mitzvoth? Is it enough to mechanically perform the mitzvah, or is the intent to fulfill one’s obligation not only preferred, but indispensable? This debate has been ongoing since Talmudic times, with no clear resolution. Many focus this debate on seemingly “ritualistic” issues, such as prayer, shofar, megillah, matzah and the like; the implications of this debate...
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Vayakhel-Pekudei: What's In a Name?

March 08, 2013 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
"Moshe said to the Jewish people: See that G-d called in the name of Bezalel, the son of Uri, the son of Chur, of the tribe of Judah" (35:30). As is well known, Biblical names are much more than a way to call somebody. We often associate names with particular events: Yakov getting his name because he held on to the eikev, heel, of Eisav; Reuven and Shimon because G-d saw and heard Leah's pain; Moshe because he was...
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Vayakhel/Pekudei: ReCreation

March 16, 2012 By: Rabbi Jay Kelman
The Netziv, in his introduction to Sefer Shemot, notes that there is Gaonic tradition that refers to Shemot as chumash sheni, the second chumash. While Sefer Breisheet details the creation of the world, humanity, and the Jewish people, the creation story concludes only at Sinai, as the purpose of creation is manifest. The Sinaitic experience was preserved as the Divine Presence rested in the Mishkan (the Tabernacle). It should thus not...
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