Parashas Vayakhel

In this week’s parashah, Moshe directs the Jewish People to bring materials for the construction of the Mishkan, and they proceed to do so. The Maggid remarks that since the collection was made at Hashem’s behest, one might think that the people brought their contributions because they felt they had to, rather than because they truly wanted to. The Maggid therefore notes a number of points that show that the people in fact made their contributions eagerly.
1. First, there is the swiftness with which they brought the materials. The Torah’s account indicates that the people rushed to contribute. Had the people been reluctant to contribute, they would have dragged their feet. Each one would have hoped that the rest of the people would bring all the necessary materials, so that he would not need to contribute. Instead, the people took just the opposite attitude. Each one was afraid that the others might cover everything, leaving him with no part in the project. Hence they all rushed to contribute.
2. Second, there is the great quantity of materials contributed. The people wanted to be absolutely sure that nothing would be lacking. They therefore contributed so much that there were materials left over. Moshe asked Hashem what to do with the extra materials, and Hashem told him to build an extra tent in the Holy of Holies as a covering for the holy ark (Shemos Rabbah 51:2). This extra tent served as testimony to the people’s enthusiasm, as is alluded to in the Torah’s phrase “Mishkan of Testimony” (Shemos 38:21).
3. Third, the people contributed from their main property holdings, and not merely from extra property they had from finding objects or receiving repayments of old loans they had already given up on. Moreover, they contributed top-quality materials. They acted as Shlomo HaMelech exhorts (Mishlei 3:9): “Honor Hashem with your [own] assets, and with the best of your crop.”
4. Finally, each person contributed what was most precious to him. The Torah hints at this when it says that each person made his contribution according to how his heart stirred him – he brought what his heart cherished.
The Maggid goes on to expound on the following Midrash (Shemos Rabbah 48:6, slightly paraphrased):
When [the Jewish People] made the golden calf, the Holy One Blessed Be He said to Moshe (Shemos 32:10): “Now let Me be. [Let My anger flare up against them, and I shall annihilate them].” He [Moshe] said to Him: “Test them when it is time for them to build the Mishkan.” What was said when they came to commit their misdeed [of making the calf]? “Remove the golden rings [from your ears]” (ibid. 32:2). And what did they bring? Rings. And when it came time to build the Mishkan, they built it from donations. What is written [in this regard]? “And all the generous of heart brought earrings, nose-rings, finger-rings, and bracelets” (ibid. 35:22). With rings they sinned, and with rings they achieved reconciliation. And through Hoshea a holy spirit exclaimed (Hoshea 2:1): “And it will be, that instead of it being said to them, ‘You are not My people,’ it will be said to them, ‘Children of the Living God!’”
The Maggid links this Midrash with the points listed above. For the making of the golden calf, the men took their wives’ jewelry by force. They deliberately chose to bring this jewelry, which they regarded as being of little use. They preferred to fight their wives for the jewelry rather than bring something they valued. This shows that they contributed to the calf only reluctantly.
On the other hand, for the Mishkan, the women took the initiative and gave their jewelry willingly. This jewelry, while inconsequential to their husbands, was precious to them. Yet they gladly gave it. This showed, in retrospect, that their refusal to give their jewelry for the golden calf was not because of its value to them, but rather because they regarded the making of the calf a deplorable cause. For the lofty cause of honoring Hashem, they were delighted to give.
David Zucker, Site Administrator

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