<I>Vayak'hel</I>: Come Together to Build the Mishkan

The mission can succeed with a united people.

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Arutz 7
Our parasha, whose main topic is the building of the Mishkan, has an unusual opening. The Yalkut Shimoni points out that no other parasha begins with vayak'hel, "and Moshe made the whole community of the children of Israel assemble." Apparently, there is something unique about the content of this parasha, the building of the Mishkan and, by implication, the subsequent building of the Bet HaMikdash, that requires the participation and active involvement of the entire people.
Today, as we are privileged to rebuild Israel, and to ingather the exiles of our people, we face a challenge.

The primary purpose of the Mishkan, as implied by its root sh'ch'n, is to make God's presence, the Shechinah, manifest in this world. In addition, it was meant to be a place to assemble and unite the people of Israel. During our years in the desert, the Mishkan was always located at the center of the camp, implying that what it represents should be our focus, our core, our essence. This should lead us to live exemplary lives that inspire the world to emulate us and come to an appreciation of God’s unity.

That mission can only be fulfilled by a united people who recognize Him, and build a society that reflects the values represented by the Mishkan. When a society is fragmented, geographically or ideologically, its credibility and its effectiveness at spreading its message and influence are also greatly diminished.

We are told that the second Bet HaMikdash was destroyed because of sinat chinam, unwarranted hatred. The Jews were scrupulously observant, but hopelessly split in their ideologies. In this atmosphere, the Bet HaMikdash could not survive as a home for the Shechinah.

Today, as we are privileged to rebuild Israel, and to ingather the exiles of our people, we face a challenge. We are so diverse. We come from so many different backgrounds and environments. Many who consider themselves committed to Torah and mitzvot continue to live outside Israel.

We need to internalize the message of Vayak'hel. We need to emphasize what we have in common and minimize our differences. We need to join together in our shared desire to create a society that will inspire the nations of the world to emulate us. We need to provide a fertile home for the rebuilding of the Bet HaMikdash and the return of the Shechinah to our midst.
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Rabbi Yosef Wolicki, a graduate of Yeshiva University, made Aliyah in 1986 after twenty-five years in the rabbinate in North America. He retired two years ago after fourteen years as the rabbi of the New Synagogue of Netanya. He lives in Bet Shemesh, lectures at the Israel Center and Yeshivat Yesodei HaTorah. He also leads support groups for family members of memory impaired elderly.

The foregoing article was distributed by the Aloh Naaleh organization.