The Weekly Sicha of the Rebbe – Parshas Vayakhel-Pekudei

The Rebbe says:

1. This year the Parshios (Torah portions) of Vayakhel and Pekudei are read together on one Shabbos.

2. We know that generally the name of something hints at what the thing is all about. This is especially so with regards to the name of a Parshah (Torah portion) because everything in the Torah is perfectly exact.

Let us examine our two portions of this Shabbos and see if their names fit with their content:

Parshas Vayakhel: The word “Vayakhel” means to gather together as one unit. The content of the Parshah however is all about individual utensils which Hashem (G-d) was instructing to be made. How does this make sense? Not only does the name of the Parshah not fit with its content, the content is actually the total opposite idea of the name!?

Parshas Pekudei: The word “Pekudei” means to count, and obviously we can only count things if they are individual things, otherwise there would be no need to count. However, the content of Parshas Pekudei is about the culmination of the making of the Mishkan (Tabernacle). Parshas Pekudei tells us the final amount of all the individual materials (gold, silver, copper…) donated by the Jewish people to the Mishkan and how the utensils (the Menorah, the Altar…) were finished and brought together as one to make up one big Mishkan. Again, how does this fit with the name of the Parshah which stresses individuality (to count)?

In short, how does each Portion’s name fit with its content?

Furthermore, how do the two Portions fit with each other? How can we read them together if they each stress a different theme? Parshas Vayakhel’s content stresses individuality while Parshas Pekudei’s content stresses community?

3. The Rebbe now builds the foundation for the answer:

There are three ways we can understand what a unit made up of individual things is:

1) Each one of the parts on its own (before becoming a unit) is nothing, and they are only there to make up a unit. In other words, the making of each part is only a preparation for the unit.

(An example that illustrates this point can be seen from the fact that one string on its own is not Holy at all, however when it is put together with the other required strings and attached to a garment they now have the Holiness of Tzitzis).

In our case of the Mishkan this would mean that each one of the utensils (made for the Tabernacle) on its own is not Holy; only when they come together to make up one big Tabernacle is there a general Holiness.

2) Even before the parts come together to make one big unit they are special, and the accomplishment of the parts coming together to make one unit is that there is now one big entity of special parts which has a collective greatness.

(An example that illustrates this point can be seen from the Jewish people; each Jewish person on their own is Holy, however when ten Jews come together (which forms a “Minyan”) an even greater amount of Holiness resides there).

In our case of the Mishkan this would mean that each utensil on its own is Holy and when we bring all the utensils together this forms one big Holy entity- the Mishkan.

3) This third way is a mixture of one and two: Before all the parts are brought together to make one unit they are not special (like the first way), however after the unit is made each part attains a uniqueness (like the second way) besides for the collective greatness.

(An example that illustrates this point can actually be seen from our subject matter itself- the Mishkan: Before the Mishkan was completely finished, the Holy of Holies (Kodesh Hakadashim), the Tent of Meeting (Ohel Moed), and the courtyard (Chatzer), didn’t have their respective Holiness of being Hashem’s dwelling place in the world. However after the Mishkan was complete, each sector had its particular Holiness, in addition to the general Holiness of the Mishkan).

In our case of the Mishkan this would mean that before the utensils were brought together to make a Mishkan they weren’t Holy, however after the Mishkan was made each utensil has its unique way of expressing G-dliness.
4. The Rebbe now answers our questions:

The Rambam (Maimonides) teaches us that the abovementioned third way of understanding what a unit is, is indeed the true meaning.

And this is exactly what the Torah portions Vayakhel and Pekudei are telling us:

In Parshas Vayakhel Hashem tells the Jewish people to make each of the utensils, and this screams individuality. However the name of the Parshah (“Vayakhel – gathering together as one”) tells us that the making of the utensils was with the mindset that they are only being built to make one big Mishkan.

Then comes Parshas Pekudei. Parshas Pekudei is about the Mishkan being finished as one big unit, while the name “Pekudei – counting (individuality)” tells us that since the Mishkan is now complete, each one of the utensils has its own unique Holiness.

We have therefore explained how each Parshah’s name fits with its content, and how the two portions fit together.

5. The Rebbe now tells us the lesson we can learn from this to incorporate into our daily lives:

Concerning the building of the Mishkan Hashem said, “Make for me a dwelling place and I will dwell in them”. Our Sages wonder why Hashem said, “in them”, in the plural form, if He was only referring to one thing- the Mishkan? Our Sages answer that, “in them”, means in every single Jew; if a Jew runs his or her life according to Hashem’s will, Hashem promises that He will dwell in them.

Now since every Jew is a “mini-Mishkan”- we must be made like a Mishkan. Therefore the lesson we just learnt from Parshas Vayakhel-Pekudei regarding the Mishkan must also apply to every single Jew (in addition to the fact that in general the Torah and its lessons are everlasting).

The lesson:

A Jew must know that firstly he is part of a unit. Just like we said with regards to the utensils in the Mishkan that their whole being was that they made up one Mishkan; a Jew is a part of the whole family of Jewish people. We must also know that after we include ourselves in the community of Jewish people as a whole, we each become something unique and special.

(This also explains why we include ourselves in the big unit of Jews by accepting the commandment “to love your fellow Jew as yourself” before we pray to Hashem for our specific needs).

Translated and adapted by Shalom Goldberg. Taken from Likutei Sichos volume twenty two, third Sicha.

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