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Vayakhel, VaYakhel, Va-Yakhel, Vayak’hel, Vayak’heil, or Vayaqhel (ויקהל — Hebrew for "and he assembled,” the first word in the parshah) is the 22nd weekly Torah portion (parshah) in the annual Jewish cycle of Torah reading and the 10th in the Book of Exodus. It constitutes Jews in the Diaspora read it the 22nd Sabbath after Simchat Torah, generally in March.
The lunisolar Hebrew calendar contains up to 54 weeks, the exact number varying between leap years and regular years. In years with 54 weeks (for example, 2011, 2014, and 2016), parshah Vayakhel is read separately. In years with fewer than 54 weeks (for example, 2009, 2010, 2012, 2013, 2015, and 2017), parshah Vayakhel is combined with the next parshah, Pekudei, to help achieve the number of weekly readings needed.
SummaryMoses convoked the Israelites to build the Tabernacle. Moses started by reminding them of God’s commandment to keep the Sabbath of complete rest. ( ) Then Moses told them to collect gifts of materials from those whose heart so moved them — gifts of gold, silver, copper, colored yarns, fine linen, goats hair, tanned ram skins, acacia wood, olive oil, spices, lapis lazuli, and other stones. ( ) Moses invited all who were skilled to make the Tabernacle, its furnishings, and the priests’ vestments. ( ) The Israelites brought the gifts that Moses requested. ( ) Moses announced that God had singled out Bezalel and Oholiab to endow them with the skills needed to construct the Tabernacle. ( ) And Moses called on them and all skilled persons to undertake the task. ( ) The Israelites brought more than was needed, so Moses proclaimed an end to the collection. ( ) The skilled workers fashioned the Tabernacle. ( ) Bezalel made the ark, cover, table, menorah, incense altar, altar for sacrifices, laver, and enclosure for the Tabernacle. ( )
In classical rabbinic interpretation
Exodus chapter 35
Rabbi Judah haNasi taught that the words “These are the words” in referred to the 39 labors that God taught Moses at Sinai. (Babylonian Talmud Shabbat 97b.) Similarly, Rabbi Hanina bar Hama said that the labors forbidden on the Sabbath in correspond to the 39 labors necessary to construct the Tabernacle. (Babylonian Talmud Shabbat 49b.)
Rabbi Hama bar Hanina interpreted the words “the plaited (שְּׂרָד, serad) garments for ministering in the holy place” into teach that but for the priestly garments described in (and the atonement achieved by the garments or the priests who wore them), no remnant (שָׂרִיד, sarid) of the Jews would have survived. (Babylonian Talmud Yoma 72a–b.)
Rabbi Levi read Jacob. Thus reports, “And every man, with whom was found acacia-wood,” not “with whom would be found acacia-wood.” Rabbi Levi taught that the Israelites cut the trees down in Magdala of the Dyers near Tiberias and brought them with them to Egypt, and no knot or crack was found in them. (Genesis Rabbah 94:4.)regarding “the middle bar in the midst of the boards, which shall pass through from end to end,” calculated that the beam must have been 32 cubits in length, and asked where the Israelites would find such a beam in the desert. Rabbi Levi deduced that the Israelites had stored up the cedar to construct the Tabernacle since the days of
The Rabbis taught in a Baraita that the Tabernacle’s lower curtains were made of blue wool, purple wool, crimson wool, and fine linen, while the upper curtains that made the tent spread were made of goats’ hair. And they taught that the upper curtains required greater skill than the lower, for says of the lower ones, “And all the women that were wise-hearted did spin with their hands,” while says of the upper ones, “And all the women whose heart stirred them up in wisdom spun the goats.” It was taught in Rabbi Nehemiah's name that the hair was washed on the goats and spun while still on the goats. (Babylonian Talmud Shabbat 99a.)
Exodus chapter 36
Doing the math implied by Joshua 14:7, and 1 Chronicles 2:19–20, the Gemara deduced that in earlier generations, a boy of eight could father children. reports that “Bezalel, son of Uri, son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, made all that the Lord had commanded Moses,” when they built the Tabernacle. And reports that Caleb fathered the Hur who fathered Uri who fathered Bezalel. reports that “wise men . . . wrought all the work of the Sanctuary,” so Bezalel must have been at least 13 years old to have been a man when he worked on the Tabernacle. A Baraita taught that Moses made the Tabernacle in the first year after the Exodus, and in the second, he erected it and sent out the spies, so the Gemara deduced that Bezalel must have been at least 14 years old when Moses sent out the spies, the year after Bezalel worked on the Tabernacle. And reports that Caleb said that he was 40 years old when Moses sent him to spy out the land. Thus, the Gemara deduced that Caleb was only 26 years older than his great-grandson Bezalel. Decucting two years for the three pregnancies needed to create the three intervening generations, the Gemara concluded that each of Caleb, Hur, and Uri must have conceived his son at the age of eight. (Babylonian Talmud Sanhedrin 69b.)
- The court must not inflict punishment on the Sabbath. ( )
(See, e.g., Maimonides. The Commandments: Sefer Ha-Mitzvoth of Maimonides. Translated by Charles B. Chavel, 2:297. London: Soncino Press, 1967. ISBN 0-900689-71-4. Sefer HaHinnuch: The Book of [Mitzvah] Education. Translated by Charles Wengrov, 1:431–33. Jerusalem: Feldheim Pub., 1991. ISBN 0-87306-179-9.)
When parshah Vayakhel is read alone (as it is in 2011 and 2014), the haftarah is:
Ashkenazi — 1 Kings 7:40–50
Sephardi — 1 Kings 7:13–26
Both the parshah and the haftarah note the skill (chokhmah), ability (tevunah), and knowledge (da‘at), of the artisan (Bezalel in the parshah, Hiram in the haftarah) in every craft (kol mela’khah). ()
On Shabbat Shekalim
When Parshah Vayakhel coincides with the special Sabbath Shabbat Shekalim, (as it does in 2016), the haftarah is
When parshah Vayakhel is combined with parshah Pekudei, the haftarah is:
- for Ashkenazi Jews:
- for Sephardi Jews:
On Shabbat HaChodesh
When the parshah coincides with Shabbat HaChodesh ("Sabbath [of] the month," the special Sabbath preceding the Hebrew month of Nissan — as it does in 2009, 2010, 2013, and 2017), the haftarah is:
On Shabbat HaChodesh, Jews readin which God commands that “This month [Nissan] shall be the beginning of months; it shall be the first month of the year” ( ), and in which God issued the commandments of Passover. ( ) Similarly, the haftarah in discusses Passover. In both the special reading and the haftarah, God instructs the Israelites to apply blood to doorposts. ( )
On Shabbat Parah
When the parshah coincides with Shabbat Parah (the special Sabbath prior to Passover — as it does in 2012 and 2015), the haftarah is:
- for Ashkenazi Jews:
- for Sephardi Jews:
On Shabbat Parah, the Sabbath of the red heifer, Jews read Numbers 19:1–22, which describes the rites of purification using the red heifer (parah adumah). Similarly, the haftarah in Ezekiel 36 also describes purification. In both the special reading and the haftarah in Ezekiel 36, sprinkled water cleansed the Israelites. ( )
In the liturgy
Following the Kabbalat Shabbat prayer service and prior to the Friday evening (Ma'ariv) service, Jews traditionally read rabbinic sources on the observance of the Sabbath, starting with Mishnah Shabbat 2:5. Mishnah Shabbat 2:5, in turn, interprets the laws of kindling lights in (Reuven Hammer. Or Hadash: A Commentary on Siddur Sim Shalom for Shabbat and Festivals, 25. New York: The Rabbinical Assembly, 2003. ISBN 0-916219-20-8.)
The parshah has parallels or is discussed in these sources:
- Psalms 26:6 (washing, altar); 51:16–19 (sacrifices); 80:2 (cherubim); 84:2–3, 11 (Tabernacle, courts); 92:14 (courts); 96:6 (God's sanctuary); 100:4 (court of the Tabernacle); 134:2 (God's sanctuary); 141:2 (incense); 150:1 (God's sanctuary).
- Philo. Allegorical Interpretation 3:33:101; On the Migration of Abraham 17:97–98. Alexandria, Egypt, early 1st Century C.E.. Reprinted in, e.g., The Works of Philo: Complete and Unabridged, New Updated Edition. Translated by Charles Duke Yonge, 61, 262. Peabody, Mass.: Hendrickson Pub., 1993. ISBN 0-943575-93-1.
- Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews 3:6:1–10:1. Circa 93–94. Reprinted in, e.g., The Works of Josephus: Complete and Unabridged, New Updated Edition. Translated by William Whiston, 85–95. Peabody, Mass.: Hendrickson Pub., 1987. ISBN 0-913573-86-8.
- Mekhilta According to Rabbi Ishmael 82:1. Land of Israel, late 4th Century. Reprinted in, e.g., Mekhilta According to Rabbi Ishmael. Translated by Jacob Neusner, 2:258–62. Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1988. ISBN 1-55540-237-2.
- Genesis Rabbah 94:4. Land of Israel, 5th Century. Reprinted in, e.g., Midrash Rabbah: Genesis. Translated by H. Freedman and Maurice Simon, 2:871. London: Soncino Press, 1939. ISBN 0-900689-38-2.
- Babylonian Talmud: Shabbat 20a, 49b, 70a, 74b, 96b; Eruvin 2b; Yoma 66b, 72b, 75a; Beitzah 4b; Rosh Hashanah 34a; Chagigah 10a–b; Yevamot 6b–7a, 33b; Sotah 3a; Kiddushin 37a; Bava Kamma 2a, 54a, 71a; Sanhedrin 35b, 69b; Makkot 21b; Shevuot 26b; Avodah Zarah 12b, 24a; Zevachim 59b; Bekhorot 41a. Babylonia, 6th Century. Reprinted in, e.g., Talmud Bavli. Edited by Yisroel Simcha Schorr, Chaim Malinowitz, and Mordechai Marcus, 72 vols. Brooklyn: Mesorah Pubs., 2006.
- Exodus Rabbah 48:1–50:5. 10th Century. Reprinted in, e.g., Midrash Rabbah: Exodus. Translated by S. M. Lehrman, 3:546–61. London: Soncino Press, 1939. ISBN 0-900689-38-2.
- Solomon ibn Gabirol. A Crown for the King, 9:105–06. Spain, 11th Century. Translated by David R. Slavitt, 14–15. New York: Oxford University Press, 1998. ISBN 0-19-511962-2.
- Rashi. Commentary. Exodus 35–38. Troyes, France, late 11th Century. Reprinted in, e.g., Rashi. The Torah: With Rashi's Commentary Translated, Annotated, and Elucidated. Translated and annotated by Yisrael Isser Zvi Herczeg, 2:487–505. Brooklyn: Mesorah Publications, 1994. ISBN 0-89906-027-7.
- Zohar 2:194b–220a. Spain, late 13th Century.
- Thomas Hobbes. Leviathan, 3:34. England, 1651. Reprint edited by C. B. Macpherson, 431. Harmondsworth, England: Penguin Classics, 1982. ISBN 0140431950.
- Edward Taylor. “18. Meditation. Heb. 13.10. Wee Have an Altar.” In Preliminary Meditations: First Series. Cambridge, Mass.: Early 18th Century. In Harold Bloom. American Religious Poems, 21–22. New York: Library of America, 2006. ISBN 978-1-931082-74-7.
- Abraham Joshua Heschel. The Sabbath. New York: Farrar Straus Giroux, 1951. Reprinted 2005. ISBN 0-374-52975-2.
- Morris Adler. The World of the Talmud, 28–29. B’nai B’rith Hillel Foundations, 1958. Reprinted Kessinger Publishing, 2007. ISBN 0548080003.
- The Mishkan: The Tabernacle: Its Structure, Its Vessels, and the Kohen’s Vestments. Brooklyn: Artscroll, 2008. (multimedia representation).