I wanted to share two beautiful insights into the repetitive nature of this week's Parsha, as explained by my brother, Rav Ari. Have a great Shabbos!!
Parshas Vayakhel (and next weeks parsha, parshas Pekudei) seem to be extremely repetitive. The Torah, which is so careful about every word, goes over all the specifications and measures of the Mishkan which it already detailed in parshiyot Terumah and Tetzaveh.
Rav Avraham Yitzchak Hakohen Kook explains that the Mishkan was destined to be the place where the Jewish people were to have their rendezvous with God’s presence in this world. It was to be a place where they could express their love for one another – the Jews through offering the korbanot b’ahavah and God by accepting our offerings and by revealing miracles daily. When two human beings love each other and plan to meet, they review the details over and over again to make sure that there are no miscommunications and that the meeting will take place as planned. This, teaches Rav Kook, is why the Torah repeats all these details. By doing so, it captures the love which God has for us and His desire that everything be just right for our meetings with Him.
Rav Avraham Pam offers a different idea. Although there is a lot of repetition, there is one slight change that makes all the difference in the world. In Terumah and Tetzaveh the Torah says again and again, “V’asita” – “And you should make.” In Vayakhel and Pekudei it states, “V’asu” – “And they made.” That, says Rav Pam, is the message of the repetition. There are so many details in the building, the vessels and the articles of clothing. “V’asu” teaches us that the Jews fulfilled every single one of those details. They did not veer from God’s plan even one tefach. It is easy to hear the word “V’asita” and get excited, resolve, or even plan to carry out God’s command. It is much more difficult to follow through with diligence, precision, and inspiration. But, our ancestors did just that.
A powerful message emerges from these two answers, for “From the day the Beit Hamikdash was destroyed, the Holy One blessed be He has only the four cubits of halacha in His world.” Halacha is extremely demanding and requires attention to seemingly insignificant details. Human nature questions whether we really have to worry about every minute detail. Shouldn’t it be enough if we carry out the command as best we can? Vayakhel and Pekudei teaches us that wanting or generally trying to fulfill God’s will is just not enough. We must be vigilant of all the little details because they are part of a relationship. And when we’re talking about an important relationship every last particular is crucial.
As we read Vayakhel we must recommit ourselves to study our majestic halacha in all its beautiful detail and keep in mind that, ideally, both its study and practice are meant to be labors of love.