Thoughts for Vayakhel-P’kudei

Byte Sized Thoughts for Vayakhel-P’kudei


Due to distraction, fatigue, and writing this at work I will offer this time around some short ideas and thoughts on the sedra.  May Hashem bless us with strength and clarity in learning His Torah!


The last verse of the first parsha/section (Sh’mot 35:3) tells us ‘do not burn a fire in all your habitations on the Sabbath day.’  There is a tradition that says that this refers to ‘aish hamahloket’, the fire of disputes.  Here Hashem is telling us that while it is forbidden to do any m’lacha (particular productive labours) on Shabbat; there is a unique need to avoid argument on Shabbat.

Thoughts for Ki Tisa

Thoughts for Ki Tisa


In this sedra we read verses that are familiar to Jews all over the world.  In so many homes, in so many congregations on Shabbat morning, we make kiddush with the verses “v’shamru vnai yisrael et hashabbat…”


That entire parsha/paragraph calls for some special attention.  The section begins with Hashem commanding us to ‘especially’ (ach) keep the Shabbat.  The exhortation to keep the Shabbat continues with note of the punishment for violating it, and then what may be read as a response “the descendants of Israel will keep the Shabbat making it the Shabbat for generations, an eternal covanent.”

Thoughts for Zachor

Thoughts for Parshat Zachor


Each year we read the special section of Parshat Zachor just before Purim.  What is the connection between the two?  The most common answer traces the line from Amalek, who we confront in the Torah reading, to the sparing of Agag’s life by King Saul, to the eventual rise of Haman.  In other words, there is an historical connection among all the figures, and a lesson that sparing the most bitter and dangerous of our enemies in defiance of God’s command can lead to dire consequences far in the unforeseen future.

Thoughts for Purim

Esther 9:27 – “The Jews upheld and accepted on themselves and on their descendants and on all associated with them…”

Concerning ‘upheld’ and ‘accepted’ our sages taught in masechet Shabbat that this is an indication of re-accepting the obligation of the Torah given at Sinai. ‘Rava said…in the time of Ahashverosh they repeated and accepted it, as it is written ‘they upheld and accepted’ – they upheld what they had previously accepted.’

Thoughts for T’rumah

Thoughts for T’rumah.


“They will make for Me a sacred place/mikdash, and I will dwell among them.”


The Alshich here notes a language anomaly.  The Torah says we will build the Mishkan/Tabernacle, v’shachanti b’tocham – and I will dwell among them.  Simply, the Torah should have said v’shachanti b’tocho – I will dwell in it.

Thoughts for Mishpatim

or, Good Neighbours Build Good Fences

“And these are the laws that you must set before them.”

Rashi here points out that if the Torah had said ‘these’ it would have meant that this section is unrelated to the previous one. Since the Torah says ‘and these’, this section is a continuation of the previous one. Rav Shlomo Aviner points out in Tal Hermon that Yitro and Mishpatim together comprise the giving of Torah at Sinai.

This is a bit curious, and leads us to a famous question.

Thoughts for Yitro

This week we arrive at arguably the single greatest event in human history – the revelation and giving of the Torah at Sinai.  From this point on, all the most important discussion of beliefs and values will have to give at least passing recognition to the ideas and values of the Torah that the Jews are entrusted to bring into the world.

Thoughts for B’shalah

Crossposted to Jewish Motorcyclists Alliance

In this week’s sedra we arrive at a moment both exalted and dramatic.  What, the plagues and leaving Egypt weren’t enough?  As amazing as leaving Egypt was, the events at the Sea of Reeds (Yam Suf/’Red Sea’) brought us to new heights.  Our holy sages tell us that even the simplest Jew at the Sea was privileged to experience prophecy beyond that of Ezekiel.  Amazing!

Even so, as in all the moments of new growth and development in our relationship with God, there were challenges as well.

There is a well known aggada that is repeated in several sources without much elaboration.  The g’mara (Yerushalmi Taanit if you must know), the Mechilta, the Targum Yonatan and Yerushalmi all tell us how our ancestors were torn over the appropriate course of action at the Sea.

The Torah describes (Sh’mot/Exodus 14:9-14) how we arrived at the edge of Sea and turned to see the Egyptians coming up on us!  The sea in front, and the enemy behind.  What to do?