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Parshat Vayak'hel-Pekudei (5764)

This week's section begins on a strange note.

Moses gathers ( VaYakhel) all the Jews together and tells them: "These are the things that G-d commands to do: Six days your work should be done and on the seventh day will be to you Holy, Shabbat Shabatonto G-d"

He begins with a generality: "THESE are the THINGS that G_dcommands…" …. Why does he list only ONE commandment!?

Not only that, but our Torah portion is just a continuation and summery of Trumaand T'tzavethat talk about building the Temple which is as general a commandment as they get! Why did he say ‘Shabbat’?

Another question; why does it say "…Six days your work SHOULD BE DONE" in the passive tense. Why not 'Six days DO WORK'.

Perhaps the answer can be found in these two short stories.

Rabbi Levi Yitzchak of Braditchev was a great scholar, holy man and miracle worker but he was best known for his unrestrained love of G-d and unbounded love for every Jew.

For instance, one day one of the wagon drivers in Braditchev was in the synagogue in the middle of his morning prayers when he suddenly decided to grease the wheels on his wagon.

To the uninitiated reader this may seem pretty benign but it wasn't.

Religious Jews devote the first half-hour or so of every day in the Synagogue ( Shul) solemnly dressed in large white prayer shawls and Tefillin (Two leather boxes, one on the arm and one on the head, held fast by black straps and containing four specific paragraphs of the Holy Torah) saying three thousand year old praises and supplications to the Creator of the Universe. This is a very serious and important undertaking.

But not to our hero…. an early greasing meant earlier clients, more clients! He dashed outside to his wagon, took out the can of grease, got on his knees, and began smearing with expertise and gusto completely forgetting about the Holy Phylacteries with the four Holy paragraphs (and 48 Holy names of G-d written in them). It was nothing short of blasphemous!

The non-religious Jews that passed by scoffed in glee, the religious ones were embarrassed. One or two even tried to talk him out of it but he was so intent in greasing that he just said, "Okay, sure, uh huh!" and kept right on going, oblivious to all around him.

Eventually someone ran into the Shuland brought Rabbi Levi Yitzchak out to stop the disgrace. But as soon as he saw what was going on he clapped his hands in joy, raised his eyes to heaven and said. "Great Merciful Creator of the Universe!Just look at your chosen people!! Just look!!! Even when they grease their wagon axels they wear the Holy Tefillin!!"

Story numbertwo. The same Rabbi Levi Yitzchak was walking in the street one day when one of the businessmen of Braditchev ran past him without saying hello, huffing and puffing with jaws clenched in determination. He was in a hurry.

"Where are you going?" Asked the Rabbi

" Oy!" shouted the startled fellow pointing in the direction he was running.

" Parnassa! Parnassa!! (Business!! Money!) hepanted not stopping.

"How do you know your parnassais in the direction you are running?

Yelled the Rabbi as the Chassid ran further from him.

"Maybe it's over there, in the opposite direction!"

From these stories we can answer our questions.

G-d gave the Torah to the Jews in this physical world in order to transform and unify the world to become even higher than the paradise it was at creation.

But we know all too well that almost always the opposite occurs; instead of the Jews transforming the world, the world overpowers, 'lowers' and confuses the Jews (Just look at today's identity-less Israeli government!).

In other words, the world can be our biggest friend; helping us to do the will or the Creator, or our biggest enemy it all depends on our ATTITUDE.

That is what our section is saying; these are the things we have to do. We must treat all the THINGS i.e. all the apparent disharmony and multiplicity of the world and unify it with the Creator. HOW? By taking the spirit of Shabbat into all the six days of the week.

Just as on Shabbat we do no work and G-d does it all, so we must realize that on the six days that we do work … G-d is also doing it all; REALLY our work is BEING DONE. Just that G-d expects that we make the proper vessels for His blessings by going to work. ONLY if we take that attitude can we transform the world and the world won't transform us!

And that is what we learn from our stories.

The first story tells us to see only the good in others. Not to be brought down by customers, clients and others.

The second teaches that the only reason money is found where we think it should be is because of G- d'smercy. It could just as easily be found in the opposite direction. It is really G-d that provides the livelihood so don't get so involved in money that you forget G-d and His Torah.

This is also the lesson of Moshiach.

The time of exile is likened to the six days of work… when it is hard to see G- dlinessand easy to forget that G-d exists. This, says the Lubavitcher Rebbe, has passed. All we have to do now is 'add our finger'; do even ONE small thing to bring Moshiach and before we know it we will all be miraculously in Jerusalem dancing in the Holy Temple with…..

Moshiach NOW!!

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