Vayakhel 5767

June 23, 2009

6 min read


Vayakhel-Pekudei (Exodus 35-40 )

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GOOD MORNING! A father was at the beach with his children when his four-year-old son ran up to him, grabbed his hand, and led him to the shore, where a seagull lay dead in the sand. "Daddy, what happened to him?" the son asked. "He died and went to Heaven," the dad replied. The boy thought a moment and then said, "Did God throw him back down?"

___And do you think it is going to be any easier answering your child's question about Pesach? You'll need a lot more than I can share with you in the next few weeks. While I will give you the basics, I highly recommend that you go to and for more in-depth information. Also, go to your local Jewish bookstore, or call toll-free to 877-758-3242 to find a Haggadah or book on Passover (like Artscroll's Pesach). Your preparation can make it a meaningful event for your family rather than a "Let's Hurry Up, Skip that and Eat Already" holiday.

___The Seders are Monday night, April 3rd and Tuesday night, April 4th.


___There are five mitzvot (commandments) for the Passover Seder, two from the Torah and three from our Sages. The two mitzvot from the Torah are to eat matza ("In the evening you shall eat unleavened bread" - Exodus 12:18) and to tell the story of our exodus from Egypt ("And you shall relate to your son [the story of the exodus] on this day" - Exodus 13:9). The rabbis added the mitzvot of drinking the four cups of wine, eating marror (bitter herbs) and reciting Hallel (Psalms of praise for the Almighty). During the times of the Temple in Jerusalem, there were 16 additional mitzvot associated with the Pesach offering.

___All of these commandments are to help us re-experience the Exodus and to feel and strengthen our sense of freedom. The mitzvot are to either experience the affliction or the redemption.

___The matza is called "lechem ani" - the bread of the poor man and "lechem oni" - the bread of affliction. In a play on pronunciation, the Sages also called it the bread over which many things are answered. It has the dual symbolism of representing our affliction and our redemption.

___The four cups of wine represent the four different terms for our redemption in the Torah (Exodus 6:6-7). Wine is the drink of celebration! Bitter herbs represents affliction (just look at the faces of those eating horseradish!) And Hallel is our thanks to the Almighty for our redemption and freedom.

___Passover is the holiday of Freedom - spiritual freedom. The Almighty brought us out of Egypt to serve Him and to be free. Isn't this a contradiction? What is the essence of Freedom?

___Is "freedom" the ability to do what one desires unhampered and without consequence? That is license, not freedom. James Bond had a "license to kill," not the freedom to kill. Freedom means having the ability to use your free will to grow and to develop.

___Our leaving Egypt led us to Mt. Sinai and the acceptance upon ourselves the yoke of Torah. This is the centerpiece of our freedom. It sets the boundaries of right and wrong, it sets forth the means to perfect ourselves and the world we live in, it defines ultimate meaning and satisfaction in life. Only with boundaries does one have the ability to grow and develop. Otherwise, with unlimited license life is out of control.

___People think they are free when they throw off the yoke of the Torah. However, unless one has the revealed wisdom of the Torah, he is at risk at becoming a "slave" to the fads and fashion of his society. Slavery is non-thinking action, rote behavior, following the impulse desires of the body. Our job on Pesach is to come out of slavery into true freedom and to develop a closer relationship with the Almighty!

___During all eight days of Pesach we are forbidden to own or eat chametz (leavened bread - i.e. virtually any flour product not especially produced for Pesach) or have it in our possession (Exodus 13:7). Why the emphasis on being chametz-free? Chametz represents arrogance ("puffing up"). The only thing that stands between you and God ... is you. To come close to the Almighty, which is the ultimate pleasure in life and the opportunity of every mitzvah and holiday, one must remove his own personal barriers. The external act brings the internal appreciation - we remove chametz from our homes and likewise work on the character trait of humility.

For more on "Pesach" go to!

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Torah 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 (the portable sanctuary) 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.

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Dvar Torah
based on Growth Through Torah by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin

___Moses commanded the Jewish people regarding the materials for the Tabernacle:

"Whoever is of a willing heart, let him bring an offering of the Almighty." (Exodus 35:5)

___What lesson do we learn from the command being directed to those who have a "willing heart"?

___Rabbi Simcha Zissel of Kelm explains that those who brought the offerings for the Tabernacle should bring their hearts with their offering. It is not sufficient just to give a monetary donation. The Almighty wants our hearts, that is our thoughts and our emotions.

___When you just give money to a charity or worthy institution, you help the cause for which you are giving. However, when you give with your heart, you are changing and elevating yourself as a person. Each donation makes you into a more giving person. Whenever you give, reflect before you give and then give with a full heart!

(or go to

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New York 6:45 - Singapore 6:59 - Toronto 7:06


The two most important gifts
you can give your children
are roots and wings

In Loving Memory of
Milton "Jack" Miller
Condolences to Doug & Fred
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