Moses assembled the whole Israelite community, tradition says, on the day after the Golden Calf incident of the previous parsha. The people would be in mourning for those who died, even if they were rebels. The verb is assembled, or more strongly convoked, a strong imperative used only for gathering people, not things. Why the urgency?
Very likely the people were dismayed and disillusioned at his time, going from such a high place of hearing the very voice of G~d to the low place of idolatrous worship. Moses brings the people right back to their position “chosen by G~d” and responsibility “worshipers of G~d.” Moses says “these are the things the Lord has commanded you to DO!” Implied here is getting back on track, back to responsible behavior.
The Sabbath is the only issue mentioned. Why the Sabbath? Why not restate the first commands to worship only the one living G~d? And further, why the threat of death for those who work on the Sabbath? IMHO Sabbath is the quintessential essence of G~d and Man connecting. It takes place in time. Relationships need time. It takes trust for adequate provision not to work another day. It sets Israel apart from the other nations as an example of a people obedient to G~d. And the death threat is very real, in a spiritual sense. If one ignores the Sabbath habitually, one will eventually drift from the essence of life itself, the core of taking time for meaningful relationships.
Next the Tabernacle construction is undertaken in ernest, though never on the Sabbath. Even holy efforts are set aside for the Sabbath!
How much we can learn from DOING the Sabbath! Easy to think about. To study about. Harder to set time aside for Sabbath. Much harder to make good use of the time to build relationships. Meaningful connections.
- With Others
- With Yourself
- With G~d
Here are some study notes:
Parsha Vayakhel 5771.doc
Parsha Vayakhel 5771.pdf