Pearls of Rashi – Parshas Vayakhel Pekudei

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This week’s Torah portion, Vayakhel-Pekudei, begins by telling us that[1] “Moshe called the entire community of the Jewish Nation to assemble …” When did this take place? Rashi cites the words “Moshe called … to assemble” and tells us that this took place on the day after Yom Kippur when he descended from the mountain. Moshe had been on Mount Sinai praying that Hashem forgive the Jews for the sin of the Golden Calf, i.e., idol worship. On Yom Kippur, G-d accepted Moshe’s prayers on our behalf. Hashem agreed to forgive us. The day after Moshe came down from the mountain, he gathered us.

He began that gathering by telling us that[2] “six days work may be done, but on the seventh day, you shall have sanctity …” Everything in the Torah is exact. There must be a connection between the two things; we need to understand just what the relationship is.

The Rambam explains how the sin of idol worship began[3]. The generations following the creation of the world certainly knew that G-d is the Creator[4]! However, they thought that the laws of nature through which G-d creates the world were significant. They mistakenly believed that the heavenly bodies are an intermediary through which Hashem creates the world. Hence, they believed that by worshipping images that represented them, He would be pleased. They were not aware that nature is merely a tool that Hashem chose to use. Nature is only like “a hatchet in the hands of the woodchopper[5].”

Chassidic thought explains that the same is true to a certain degree of one who believes that he is “making a living.” One who believes that his paycheck is a result of his talents and not G-d gave is guilty of idolatry to an extent. We are not that different from the Jews in the wilderness who were supported directly from G-d, eating Mon (Manna) from heaven and drinking water from Miriam’s well.

This is the reason that Moshe told us that throughout the week, “work shall be done.” He used the passive voice. We must make an effort, but ultimately G-d supplies the sustenance. “[6]G-d will bless you in all that you do.”

I wish one and all a happy and kosher Pesach!

Rabbi Shmuel Mendelsohn

Adapted from Likkutei Sichos Volume 1, Pages 187 – 190

מוקדש לזכות כ”ק אדמו”ר נשיא דורנו מליובאוויט

חיילי “צבאות השם” חיים ועדן עודד שיחיו מאריס
נדפס ע”י הוריהם
הרה”ת ר’ מנחם מענדל

וזוגתו מרת חי’ מושקא שיחיו מאריס[1]. Shemos 35:1.

[2]. Shemos 35:2.

[3]. See Rambam, the Laws of Idolatry 1, 1.

[4]. See Shaar Hayichud Vehoemunah. There it is explained that creation is an ongoing process. It is not something which happened once upon a time.

[5]. This expression is based on Yeshayahu 10:15.

[6]. Devorim 15:18.

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