Author: Gidon Ariel

Published Date: February 22, 2019


In this Shabbat’s weekly Torah portion Vayakhel, Exodus 35:1 – 38:20, Moses assembles the people of Israel and reiterates to them the commandment to observe the Shabbat. He then conveys God’s instructions regarding the making of the Mishkan (Tabernacle). The people donate the required materials in abundance, 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 has to tell them to stop giving.

A team of wise-hearted artisans make the Mishkan and its furnishings (as detailed in the previous Torah readings of Terumah, Tetzaveh and Ki Tisa): three layers of roof coverings; 48 gold-plated wall panels, and 100 silver foundation sockets; the parochet (veil) that separates between the Sanctuary’s two chambers, and the masach (screen) that fronts it; the ark, and its cover with the cherubim; the table and its showbread; the seven-branched menorah with its specially prepared oil; the golden altar and the incense burned on it; the anointing oil; the outdoor altar for burnt offerings and all its implements; the hangings, posts and foundation sockets for the courtyard; and the basin and its pedestal, made out of copper mirrors.

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In this week’s Haftara Prophets reading I Kings 7:13 – 7:26, describes the construction of several components of the Holy Temple by the wise craftsman Hiram of Tyre, paralleling the Torah portion which describes the construction of the Tabernacle by the wise Bezalel and his crew of craftspeople.

King Solomon called for Hiram, an expert coppersmith, to create copper columns to flank the largest doorway of the Holy Temple. The columns were eighteen cubits (approx. 30 feet) high and were topped by two capitals which were intricately carved with pomegranates and palm leaves. The right column was named Jachin, and the left one was called Boaz. Hiram also built a copper basin — or “sea” as it’s called in the text: “It stood on twelve oxen, three looking toward the north, and three looking toward the west, and three looking toward the south, and three looking toward the east; and the sea (was set) upon them above, and all their hinder parts (were) inward.” In this basin — a large mikvah — the priests would immerse before they served in the Temple.

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Happy studying!
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