Shemot 35:1-38:20 [Hebcal] [על-התורה] שמות לה א-לח כ
Haftarah: Melachim Alef 7:13-26 (Sefardi) | Melachim Alef 7:40-50 (Ashkenazi) | Melachim Alef 7:13-22 (Teimani) | When doubled with Pekudei, the haftarah for Pekudei is read, unless it is Shabbat ha-Chodesh, or, less commonly, Shabbat Shekalim or Shabbat Parah
[על-התורה] הפטרה: מלכים א ז יג-כו (ספרדים) | מלכים א ז מ-נ (אשכנזים) | מלכים א ז יג-כב (תימנים) | כשנקרא ביחד עם פקודי ההפטרה היא של פקודי אלא אם כן זו שבת החודש או לעתים שבת שקלים או שבת פרה
- Gifts for the Mishkan
- Betzalel and the Artisans Work on the Mishkan
- Betzalel Makes the Aron
- Haftarah Summary – וישלח המלך שלמה (ספרדים) | ויעש חירום (אשכנזים)
- Haftarah Summary for Shabbat Shekalim
The notable word by which this parashah is known, Vayakhel, indicates an important convocation (gathering) of Bnei Yisrael by Moshe. Following this, Betzalel and other master craftspeople contribute to the building of the Mishkan.
Gifts for the Mishkan
Moshe calls together (va-yakhel – וַיַּקְהֵל), Bnei Yisrael. He reminds them that Shabbat is a day of rest when no fire may be kindled. Moshe then turns to voluntary donations of precious metals, dyes (techelet, argaman, and tolaat shani – תְכֵלֶת וְאַרְגָּמָן וְתוֹלַעַת שָׁנִי – blue, purple, and crimson), fine cloths (shesh izim – שֵׁשׁ וְעִזִּים) and skins (עֹרֹת אֵילִם מְאָדָּמִים וְעֹרֹת תְּחָשִׁים), acacia wood (atzei shittim – עֲצֵי שִׂטִּים), oil (shemen – שֶׁמֶן) and fragrant spices (besamim – בְשָׂמִים), and precious stones (אַבְנֵי שֹׁהַם וְאַבְנֵי מִלֻּאִים). Those who are skilled are invited to come and make the instruments for the Mishkan previously commanded:1 the Mishkan (מִּשְׁכָּן) itself and its tent (אָהֳלוֹ) and all its constituent parts; the Aron (Ark – אָרֹן) and its poles (בַּדָּיו), cover (kaporet – כַּפֹּרֶת), and curtain (parochet – פָּרֹכֶת); the Shulchan (שֻּׁלְחָן – table for the showbread, lechem ha-panim – לֶחֶם הַפָּנִים) and its poles and utensils (כֵּלָיו); the Menora (מְנֹרַת הַמָּאוֹר), its utensils, lamps, and oils; the altar for incense (Mizbeach ha-Ketoret – מִזְבַּח הַקְּטֹרֶת) and its poles, incense, and anointing oil; the screen (מָסַךְ) for the opening of the Ohel and for the opening of the enclosure; the altar for the burnt offering (Mizbeach ha-Olah – מִזְבַּח הָעֹלָה) and its copper instruments, including the Kiyor (basin or laver – כִּיֹּר); the hangings for the enclosure as well as the screen and the Mishkan itself; and the clothing of the kohanim. The people, men and women alike, contribute their skills to this endeavor, which is, notably, detailed in the text:
וַיָּבֹאוּ הָאֲנָשִׁים עַל הַנָּשִׁים כֹּל נְדִיב לֵב הֵבִיאוּ חָח וָנֶזֶם וְטַבַּעַת וְכוּמָז כָּל כְּלִי זָהָב וְכָל אִישׁ אֲשֶׁר הֵנִיף תְּנוּפַת זָהָב לַה’…
וְכָל אִשָּׁה חַכְמַת לֵב בְּיָדֶיהָ טָווּ וַיָּבִיאוּ מַטְוֶה אֶת הַתְּכֵלֶת וְאֶת הָאַרְגָּמָן אֶת תּוֹלַעַת הַשָּׁנִי וְאֶת הַשֵּׁשׁ: וְכָל הַנָּשִׁים אֲשֶׁר נָשָׂא לִבָּן אֹתָנָה בְּחָכְמָה טָווּ אֶת :הָעִזִּים
Men and women, all whose hearts moved them, all who would make an elevation offering of gold to Hashem, came bringing brooches, earrings, rings, and pendants —gold objects of all kinds.
…And all the skilled women spun with their own hands, and brought what they had spun, in blue, purple, and crimson yarns, and in fine linen. And all the women who excelled in that skill spun the goats’ hair.Shemot 35:22, 25-26
Betzalel and the Artisans Work on the Mishkan
Moshe presents Betzalel ben Uri ben Chur (בְּצַלְאֵל בֶּן אוּרִי בֶן חוּר) to the people as the Divinely-inspired master craftsmen who will work on the Mishkan, along with Oholiav ben Achisamach (אָהֳלִיאָב בֶּן אֲחִיסָמָךְ), his assistant, both already mentioned in the previous parsha:
וַיֹּאמֶר מֹשֶׁה אֶל בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל רְאוּ קָרָא ה’ בְּשֵׁם בְּצַלְאֵל בֶּן אוּרִי בֶן חוּר לְמַטֵּה יְהוּדָה: וַיְמַלֵּא אֹתוֹ רוּחַ אֱלֹקים בְּחָכְמָה בִּתְבוּנָה וּבְדַעַת וּבְכָל מְלָאכָה: וְלַחְשֹׁב מַחַשָׁבֹת לַעֲשֹׂת בַּזָּהָב וּבַכֶּסֶף וּבַנְּחֹשֶׁת: וּבַחֲרֹשֶׁת אֶבֶן לְמַלֹּאת וּבַחֲרֹשֶׁת עֵץ לַעֲשׂוֹת בְּכָל מְלֶאכֶת מַחֲשָׁבֶת: וּלְהוֹרֹת נָתַן בְּלִבּוֹ הוּא וְאָהֳלִיאָב בֶּן אֲחִיסָמָךְ לְמַטֵּה דָן: מִלֵּא אֹתָם חָכְמַת לֵב לַעֲשׂוֹת כָּל מְלֶאכֶת חָרָשׁ וְחֹשֵׁב וְרֹקֵם בַּתְּכֵלֶת וּבָאַרְגָּמָן בְּתוֹלַעַת הַשָּׁנִי וּבַשֵּׁשׁ וְאֹרֵג עֹשֵׂי כָּל מְלָאכָה וְחֹשְׁבֵי מַחֲשָׁבֹת
And Moses said to the Israelites: See, Hashem has singled out by name Betzalel, son of Uri son of Chur, of the tribe of Yehuda, endowing him with a Divine spirit (ruach Elokim) of skill (chochma), ability (tevuna), and knowledge (daat) in every kind of craft (melacha), to make designs (lachshov machshevet) in gold, silver, and copper, to cut stones for setting and to carve wood—to work in every kind of designer’s craft—and to give directions. He and Oholiav son of Achisamach of the tribe of Dan have been endowed with the skill to do any work—of the carver, the designer, the embroiderer in blue, purple, crimson yarns, and in fine linen, and of the weaver—as workers in all crafts and as makers of designs.Shemot 35:30-35
Betzalel, Oholiav, and all the artisans take the gifts that the people have brought and begin their work. However, the people continue to bring donations, more than is needed, and Moshe tells them that there is sufficient material.
The first task described is the fashioning of the Mishkan itself from ten pieces of cloth, the dimensions of which are given: each is an identical 28 cubits long and 4 cubits wide. These are made from fine linen (shesh moshzar – שֵׁשׁ מָשְׁזָר) in the colors tekhelet (a blue), argaman (a deep reddish-purple), and tola’at shani (crimson). Notably, the work is described as maaseh choshev (מַעֲשֵׂה חֹשֵׁב), “considered work.” The cloths are joined five and five, and loops and clasps are made for their hanging, all described in great detail. The artisans then make a tent for the Mishkan out of cloth woven from goat hair, again described in detail, plus a covering tanned ram skins.2
The planks of the Mishkan are made from the acacia wood with silver sockets. The north and south sides of Mishkan consist of 20 planks, while the rear to the west consists of 6, with 2 for the corners (a total of 8). The curtains and screen are then added.3
Betzalel Makes the Aron
Betzalel crafts the Aron out of acacia wood; its dimensions are given, and all the details of its fittings and poles are described, with special attention to the Keruvim. He then makes the Menora, which also is extensively detailed; especially striking are its almond-blossom-shaped cups. After the Menorah, Betzalel makes the incense altar (Misbeach ha-Ketoret), overlaid with gold, plus the anointing oil and the incense.
Next Betzalel fashions the Mizbeach (altar) for burnt offerings, which has four golden horns (karnot – קַרְנֹת) at its four corners, and many utensils and poles. He makes the Kiyor, and the enclosure and its hangings, again detailed. The screen of the gate of the enclosure is decorated with embroidery (maaseh rokem – מַעֲשֵׂה רֹקֵם) in the colors tekhelet, argaman, and tolaat shani.
Haftarah Summary – וישלח המלך שלמה (ספרדים) | ויעש חירום (אשכנזים)
The haftarah describes the work of Chirom (Hiram), a master craftsman from Tzor (Tyre) who is tasked with working on Melech Shlomo (King Solomon)’s Beit ha-Mikdash. The Sefardi haftarah starts a bit earlier in the text, when Chiram is introduced; the Ashkenazi begins slightly later, with a different description of Chiram’s work. Both include detailed descriptions of the first Beit ha-Mikdash in the time of Shlomo.
Haftarah Summary for Shabbat Shekalim
This haftarah pertains to the half-shekel donation required of every individual over 20 years of age, described in the maftir for Shabbat Shekalim. It describes events from the reign of King Yehoash, a righteous king who, however, fails to remove the bamot (“high places” – altars or shrines) that the people have erected in various places. Yehoash orders that the current half-shekel tax be used to make repairs to Beit ha-Mikdash. In the 23rd year of his reign, the repairs had still not been made, and Yehoash orders that no further monies be accepted until they are. Though the kohanim initially decide to neither collect nor use more monies, Yehoyada the kohen arranged for monies to be accepted and given to craftsmen for the repairs to Beit ha-Mikdash, as well as some types of materials.
Image: Fragment (Near East), 10th–14th century; silk on linen; H x W: 12.7 x 7.2cm (5 x 2 13/16in.); Gift of John Pierpont Morgan; 1902-1-64-a,b; Note: this medieval fragment obviously postdates the Biblical history, and is intended illustratively.
- In the previous parsha, Ki Tisa.
- The details are repeated from those given in the previous parsha; again, see there for more elaboration.
- For diagrams of the Mishkan and its instruments, see the Temple Institute.