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Vayakhel 5761

Vayakhel-Pekudei (Exodus 35-40 )

by Kalman Packouz

GOOD MORNING!  Three weeks to Pesach and counting... It's time to give some thought to making the Seder more enjoyable and effective in creating a warm family experience. Most Jews would like their children to feel positively about being Jewish. You cannot transfer your feelings, but you can create the atmosphere and the experience which will engender positive feelings. Anyone I have ever met who loved being Jewish, fondly reminisced about his Zaideh (grandfather) presiding over the Shabbat table or his Bubbie (grandmother) lighting Shabbat candles ... and his family's Seder! You are a link in that chain!


Remember that the Seder is for the kids, to transmit our history and understanding of life. You've got to make it interesting and intrigue them to ask questions. If a person asks a question, he'll be inclined to hear the answer! The only way to transmit your love and feeling for Judaism is through shared, positive experiences. Some ideas from Rabbi Shimon Apisdorf's Passover Survival Kit:

  1. Invest time before the Seder. Trade in your Maxwell House Hagaddah for one with commentary. Then read it! See what intrigues you. Look at a commentary to get interesting insights to share with your family and guests. Check out the Passover Survival Kit, Artscroll Haggadahs and Book of Our Heritage by Eliyahu Kitov. Available at local Jewish bookstores or by calling toll-free 877-758-3242. NO EXCUSES!

  2. Get Passover story books for the kids now! Read to them the stories before Pesach. Have them or help them make a little play to present at the Seder. Buy them the Artscroll Children's Hagaddah!

  3. Have quizzes and prizes. Ask questions and give 20 points for a right answer. 100 points and they get a prize! Start with the youngest and work up through the ages. If a child answers a question that's not his, he loses 20 points! Name the Ten Plagues, the Four Sons, the number of years in slavery -- make your list of questions before the Seder. (You can even prep the kids before the Seder with the answers!)

  4. Plan out the Seder with little surprises and props. During the section on the plagues throw into the air plastic animals when you get to the Wild Beasts; use ping pong balls for the plague of Hail. Be creative. Give each child a brown paper bag filled with his props. Have fun! (You can also order the "Bag of Plagues" props available at your local Jewish bookstore -- or call toll-free 877-758-3242, they have a special: Bag of Plagues + an Artscroll Hagaddah for $19.95 including postage).

  5. Have questions for discussion at the table! Passover marks the birth of the Jewish people. It's a time to reflect on the meaning, value and implications of being Jewish. Here are some questions to discuss:

    1. On a scale of 1-10, how important is being Jewish to you? Please explain.

    2. If your son, daughter, brother, sister, or best friend told you that they planned to raise their children without any Jewish education or identity, how would you react?

    3. If you thought the existence of Israel was in danger, would you risk your life to help save it?

    4. What do you like about being Jewish? What don't you like?

    5. Is it important to you or for your children to have mostly Jewish friends? Why?

Would you spend another $60 to make this Passover really special?

Here is something that can really enliven your Passover Seder!

THE PASSOVER FAMILY FUN KIT created by one of Aish HaTorah's creative geniuses, my beloved colleague, Rabbi Stephen Baars, Aish Washington, DC! "The silliest, wackiest, wildest time you'll ever have at the seder table!" It includes 5 copies of the Children's Passover Play and over 100 exciting and fun props and character costumes for kids, grandkids and adults to act out the story of Passover. It's tons of fun for the whole family! $49.95 plus shipping & handling ($7 in the USA).

No Hebrew Required

Aish HaTorah Washington, DC.,
11418 Old Georgetown Road,

North Bethesda, MD 20852
(301) 881-9010


Hundreds of families in Israel are unable to afford groceries for
Yom Tov (the holiday).

This group gives them coupons redeemable only for food. They
arrange with the supermarket to get an extra 10% on every dollar
you give them. I know they are legitimate and I give them money!

Send your tax-deductible contribution to:

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Fulfill the special Mitzvah of Maos Chitim, helping the poor for

Portion of the Week


Moshe relays the Almighty's commands to refrain from building the Mishkan (the Tabernacle) on the Shabbat, to contribute items needed to build the Mishkan, to construct the components of the Mishkan and the appurtenances of the Cohanim. The craftsmen are selected, the work begins. The craftsmen report that there are too many donations, and for the first and probably the only time in fundraising history, the Jewish people are told to refrain from bringing additional contributions!

Pekudei includes an accounting of all the materials that went into the making of the Mishkan and details of the construction of the clothing of the Cohanim. The Tabernacle (another translation of Mishkan) is completed, Moses examines all of the components and gives his approval to the quality and exactness of construction, the Almighty commands to erect the Tabernacle, it's erected and the various vessels are placed in their proper place.


Dvar Torah
based on Growth Through Torah by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin

The Torah states regarding donations made for the clothing of the Cohen Gadol (High Priest), "And the heads of the tribes brought shoham stones (onyx) and (other) stones to be set for the ephod (an apron-like garment) and for the breastplate." Why does the Torah make specific mention that the Princes of the tribes were the ones to bring the stones?

Rashi (Rabbi Shlomo ben Yitzchok who lived 1040-1104 and is considered the leading commentator on the Torah and the Talmud) cites the words of the Sages who note that the heads of the tribes brought the last donations for the Sanctuary. The Princes said, "We will let the other people donate whatever they will donate, and we will bring whatever is missing." However, the people brought all that was needed. The heads of the tribes then asked, "What can we still do?" The only things remaining were the special stones that were needed and this is what they brought. Since they procrastinated the Torah hints a reproof to them by spelling the name nesiim (princes) lacking one Hebrew letter yud.

Rabbi Yeruchem Levovitz comments that their original intention appears to be virtuous. They said that they would bring whatever was needed at the end. (The Sanctuary was built through donations -- except the foundations of the pillars which came from communal funds. The Princes felt that the needs would be too great for the people to cover; they underestimated the national fervor and generosity!) This appears to be a very generous proposal on their part. However, we learn from here that since their behavior touched on the negative trait of laziness, their behavior was considered incorrect and they were censored for it.

Whenever a negative character trait could be an underlying factor for your behavior, be very careful to clarify what your true motivation is. This especially applies to the trait of laziness. It is easy to give many good-sounding reasons for not doing things. When laziness could be the real reason for your lack of action, be suspicious that your reasons are actually rationalizations by which you are trying to excuse yourself. Our lesson: Don't procrastinate in preparing for Pesach! It can become too late.


Jerusalem  5:15
Guatemala 5:55  Hong Kong 6:17  Honolulu 6:25
J'Burg 5:57  London 6:00  Los Angeles 5:49
Melbourne 7:10  Miami 6:15  Moscow 6:30

New York 5:33  Singapore  6:57


Time flies ...
but you're the pilot.

Dedicated by...

In Loving Memory of
Madelaine Joyce Patrick
May Her Memory Bless Us


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