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[Dvar Torah] Vayakhel-Pekudei

In this week’s Parasha, Parashat Vayakhel-Pekudei, Moses gathers the people of Israel to remind them of the commandment to observe Shabbat. He then forwards G-d’s instructions in regard to the building of the Tabernacle - the Mishkan. The Israelites donate the materials needed in plentiful amounts, bringing gold, silver and copper; blue, purple and red-dyed wool; goat hair, spun linen, animal skins, wood, olive oil, herbs and precious stones. Moses eventually had to tell them to stop as they had given too much!

Aaron and the Priests receive their clothing for work in the Sanctuary, marking the completion of the Tabernacle construction. Moses anoints Aaron and his sons as Priests, and G-d's presence fills the Mishkan as a cloud descends over the tent of meeting.

In this Parsha, we see true community and togetherness. Rabbi Lord Sacks (OBM) said “Judaism attaches immense significance to the individual. Every life is like a universe. Each one of us, though we are all in G-d’s image, is different, therefore unique and irreplaceable.” But the individual is nothing without the collective.

A large part of Judaism is about the form and structure of our togetherness: Judaism values the individual, but does not endorse individualism. We see in this Parasha that when individuals come together to bring different materials needed to build the Tabernacle, they are able to contribute to something greater than themselves.

The only thing that the Israelites needed to give to the Mishkan was half a piece of silver, all of the other things given were materials the Israelites had chosen to give. Half a silver coin on its own may not go far, but when everyone was brought together to give their own small contribution, something as magnificent as the Mishkan was created.

What we can take from this Parsha is that we must allow ourselves to be who we are, but still understand that we are all a part of something bigger than ourselves. We are a community and each and every one of us has something to contribute. Each one of us is unique, and each one of us has something valuable to share but sometimes, to find what that is, you must come together as a community and see what everyone else has to offer.

Thank you and Shabbat Shalom!

Lili, Grade 9