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Vayakhel-Pekudei 5770

Vayakhel-Pekudei (Exodus 35-40 )

by Kalman Packouz

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? Thirty days before each holiday we are directed by the Sages to prepare for the holiday. We are now less than 30 days and closing on Passover! The Seders are Monday night, March 29th and Tuesday night, March 30th - about three weeks away. What would make this Pesach different than all other Pesachs? Perhaps all other Pesachs have been "Maxwell House Haggadahs and let's hurry up and eat." How can we make this one more meaningful?

Like everything in life first must come a decision, then a plan and finally the discipline of sticking to the plan. The more you prepare and understand the more you will benefit from the Seder and be able to help others grow from the experience.

First, go to your Jewish bookstore to browse for Haggadahs, tapes, even videos. Buy a copy of Judaism in a Nutshell - Passover by Rabbi Shimon Apisdorf. Also, get one or more Haggadahs. Picking a Haggadah is a personal thing. There are many commentaries and orientations that you'll find something to fascinate you. There is a Sephardic Haggadah, A Family Haggadah, A Children's Haggadah (with beautiful pictures to keep them interested!), Haggadahs with commentaries of great Sages like the Vilna Gaon or the Abarbanel. My personal favorites are the Artscroll Haggadah by Rabbi Joseph Elias which has a lucid and concise commentary and the Lehmann Haggadah which has greater depth and development of themes (available at your local Jewish bookstore, at or by calling toll-free to 877-758-3242). Check out and

Please check out for insights into the Haggadah, Stories and Insights, Family Activities (Passover Stories, Games & Tips for the Seder, Arts & Crafts, Print & Play and Dr. Mitzvah and the Stolen Seder), Laws, Cookbook! For tremendous understanding and intelligent insights for the Seder, get a free copy of Rabbi Yochanan Zweig's Pesach Seder Cards. Download at or call 305-534-7050.

Make it a family affair. Ask each of the people coming to your Seder to take a section and to study the commentary on those pages. It will empower the participants and transform them from spectators to participants in the Seder!

If you are aurally-inclined has CDs and downloads to help you with the Seder and the songs. Turn drive time into preparation for the Seder time! Go to or call toll-free 800-Voices3 (864-2373). Suggested titles are: Rabbi Y. Berkowitz: Passover - The Birth of a Nation (BY 520A-B) and How To Run a Traditional Seder (BY 524B) or Rabbi Ari Kahn: Pesach Hagaddah: Why Egypt? (KI 520E) Pesach Hagaddah: Tasting the Redemption (KI 520A), Pesach Seder: The Wicked Son (KI 520B), Pesach Hagaddah: Its Structure (KI 520D).

Set a time each day to learn and to prepare for the Seder. Before you know it will be upon you. If you don't start now, soon it will be too late to put in the necessary time to prepare. The more you invest in understanding the Hagaddah, the Exodus from Egypt, the concept of Freedom, the greater your dividends and the dividends for your family.

A parent only owes his child three things - example, example, example. Which example do you wish to imprint upon your child's soul? The parent who loves Pesach and is involved with every aspect of his being in preparing for the Seder - or the parent who exudes "I don't know what this means, I don't understand it, I'm embarrassed and feel inadequate - so let's hurry up and eat!"

The story is told of a young boy who heard about a "miracle rabbi" who could see to the depths of your soul and could perform wonders. Deciding to expose the rabbi as a fraud, the boy devises a plan - he will hold a bird in his hands behind his back and ask the rabbi what he has. If the rabbi happens to guess correctly that he has a bird, then the boy will ask "Is it alive or dead?" If the rabbi says "Alive," he will kill the bird and drop it to the ground in front of him; if the rabbi says "Dead," he will hold up his hands and let the bird fly away.

Brought before the rabbi, the boy asks, "What do I have in my hands?" "A bird" says the rabbi. The boy then asks, "Is the bird dead or alive?" The rabbi looks the boy straight in the eye and is quiet for several seconds. Then the rabbi says, "That depends upon you. The decision is in your hands."

What kind of Seder will you have this year? That depends upon you. The decision is in your hands!

For more on "Passover" 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 or Portable Sanctuary) 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!

Pekudey 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 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

Moshe teaches Betzalel the order of construction of the Mishkan (Portable Sanctuary) starting with the Ark. Betzalel respectfully maintains that first one builds the home, then one makes the furnishings. Moshe replies that Betzalel is correct and the Almighty Himself had thus commanded Moshe, though Moshe conveyed instructions regarding the Ark first because of its primary importance. The Torah praises Betzalel for his intuitive understanding of the Almighty's will with the verse:

"And Betzalel, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Yehudah did all that the Almighty commanded Moshe" (Exodus 38:22).

Rabbi Yeruchem Levovitz comments that we see from here the importance of doing things in their proper order. One always needs to clarify his priorities and to have the organizational skills to do things in their proper order.

This is an important tool for accomplishing anything in life. One needs to know what he must do and then he must have an order of priorities. We will never have enough time to do everything we would like to do. By being aware of the order of importance of what you have to do, you will ensure that you will effectively accomplish the most possible within the limitations of the time allotted to you.

Each day make a list of the various tasks you need to complete. Then decide on a proper order in which to do them. If you don't prioritize and don't set aside the time you won't accomplish what's most important in life - spending time with your family, growing as a human being, helping others or even preparing for the Seder. No one on his death bed ever wished he spent more time at the office.



Avraham Goldhar, the genius behind Crash Courses in Torah, in Jewish Holidays, in Talmud & Jewish Law is presenting a 1 1/2 hour Webinar (Seminar on the Web) "The Crash Course in Jewish History" Tuesday, March 16th at 8:00 pm (Eastern Time). Instead of the usual $18, there is a one time special of $10 for readers of the Shabbat Shalom! An event not to be missed!

Register at:


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Failure is not an option. It is a privilege
reserved only for those who try.


With Deep Appreciation to

Eric & Coral Beare

Hong Kong & Cape Town


Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Kalman Packouz

Click here for Rabbi Packouz's bio
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