Vayak’hel (And He Assembled) Exodus (Sh’mot) 35:1-38:20 and P’Kudei (Accounts) Exodus (Sh’mot) 38:21-40:38
Torah Portion: Vayak’hel (And He Assembled) Exodus (Sh’mot) 35:1-38:20 and P’Kudei (Accounts) Exodus (Sh’mot) 38:21-40:38
Haftorah Reading: I Kings 7:13-26, 7:40-8:21
Today we finish the book of Exodus by reading the last two portions of the book. Both of these books have a great deal to say to us in our life today as G-d’s people. These Torah portions are especially important to us in light of the world events that either has or will affect us all in one way or the other.
I would like to start with my thoughts on the first section of Vayak’hel. This word, Vayak’hel, can mean either “gather” or “assemble.” Interestingly we also saw this same word in our section last week. In Exodus/Sh’mot 32:1 we read where the people assembled around Aaron and demanded he make them gods to go before them since Moshe was absent. Today, in our opening verse of Vayak’hel, we read this word. Here we read where Moshe assembled the people to contribute to and take part in the construction of the building of the Mishkan or Tabernacle.
Torah portion: Pinchas, Numbers 25:10-30:1
Haftorah Reading I Kings 18:46-19:21
In this Torah portion we read the conclusion of the activities of the Israelites following their interaction with the Midianite women. In Numbers 25: 16-18 we read an interesting explanation of how G-d looked at the sins of immorality and idol worship. In these verses we read that these sins were viewed by G-d as being equally responsible for the plague G-d sent on the Israelites that took the lives of 24,000 people. As we have studied the Torah we have seen on many occasions that idol worship was the father of all sins. Nothing was looked at as being on the level of idol worship. I would like to share an explanation with you that might give us some answers to how here immorality and idol worship were looked at as being both responsible for Israel’s punishment. To do this I will draw from an article that I read this week by Rabbi Shlomo Riskin who serves as the chief Rabbi of the town of Efrat in Israel. In our society today we hear over and over that as long as we do not harm another person pretty much anything we do in okay if it brings us pleasure. The verses above give us an important insight that refutes that idea.