Thoughts on Parshat Vayakhel & Shabbat Across America 2016

“Vayakel” means gather the people together… and that’s what we are doing this week at KBR!

Participating in NJOP’s Shabbat Across America program is a wonderful way to join with our Jewish brothers and sisters, all across the US and Canada, to celebrate Shabbat.  To bask in the glow of candlelight and enjoy a festive Shabbat dinner together as a community, which is really just a family.

Preparing for an event like this takes a lot of organization and dedication. This brings us to a topic discussed in this week’s Parsha: delegating jobs.

Proper delegation of tasks is somewhat of an art form.  In a family dynamic it is important for a child to be given responsibilities, tasks to perform. But it is of utmost importance that the jobs be within his abilities, and age-appropriate.  This helps not only with the family, it also improves the child’s self esteem.

In this week’s Parsha, we read about the actual production of the Aron HaKodesh, the Ark of the Covenant. The verse says, “And Betzalel made the Ark.” It is interesting to note that when the original command is given to make the Aron (back in Parshat Terumah), Moshe Rabbeinu is told, “They should make the Aron.” The commandment was given in the plural, unlike the other vessels of the Mishkan, which were commanded (in the singular) to be built. The reason the command was originally given in the plural is that the Aron represents Torah learning, and Hashem wants the entire nation to take an active part in Torah study.

If so, why do we see here, in the actual description of the making of the Aron, that Betzalel made it alone?

Rav Baruch Sorotzkin explains that every Jew must study Torah (represented by the command being in the plural), but an individual cannot rely on others to fulfill this obligation.  I can’t say, “Joe is learning Torah, so I don’t need to.” We all have to view this responsibility and relationship as our personal obligation.  That is why Betzalel goes ahead and makes the Aron HaKodesh, he doesn’t delegate its crafting to others.

In many various communal tasks we can rely on others, but in our Torah learning, in our relationship with Hashem, we must take on this holy task ourselves, as an individual and as part of a congregation.

Here at KBR we are dedicated to helping each of you take the next step in your relationship with the Holy Torah and the Jewish community.

See you this Shabbat!