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March 18, 2023: Parashat Torah Portion Vayak'hel-Pekudei

This week’s Parashah Torah Portion Vayak'hel-Pekudei is taken from Exodus 35:1-29. Join Dr. Jeffery Myers, as he describes the purpose of the assembling together of the Israelites, and the message behind the building of a Sanctuary for ADONAI, and how this applies to our lives today!

Follow along in the AUDIO PODCAST, by clicking on the play button below, and reading along with the notes, as you listen to today's Parashah Torah Portion:

Lion of Judah Speaks: Parashah Torah Portion Vayak'hel-Pekudei - Exodus 35:1-29

In Exodus 35:1 the Scripture begins by saying, “Moses assembled all the congregation of the sons of Israel.” The first word “Vayak’hel comes from the verb “kahal” which means “to assemble”. A community of tribes is the kahal. Kahal can be translated as an assembly, congregation, or community. The Greek word is “ekklesia” which speaks of the assembly of worshippers or the assembly of Israel in the Temple. When the English translators (in their bias) translated “ekklesia” they changed it to the word “church” which gives the appearance that “church” first appears in the New Testament. This completely disconnects the Tanakh and the nation of Israel from that meaning. Because of this it has created a false belief that “the church” is a new institution outside of Biblical Judaism and the Hebrew people. However, the original language implies that the New Testament church needs to be understood in continuity with the Hebrew people not as a disjuncture.

In this parashah, Moses assembled the kahal. There are several reasons for this gathering: The Hebrew people just lived through very stormy and unsettling events; Moses spoke to the kahal about building a Sanctuary and also about keeping the Sabbath. He was reassuring and refocusing their attention on the Divine in which they were to be involved in to build a dwelling for the Divine Presence. Certainly, after all the ups and downs of this exodus in their lives they needed to come together to refocus, to remember who they were and where they were going. Adonai wants them to build Him a Sanctuary. Sanctuary has two names; the first one is Mishkan, meaning a dwelling place and the second one is Mikdash meaning sanctity, holiness, state of being, and spiritually pure. Both of these words complement each other. The Sanctuary is both the instrument and symbol of godliness in this material world and its affairs showing us He is not just “in heaven looking down”. However, on His own accord He does not make Himself evident but will be seen only by those who look. For example, a tree can be merely a tree or the handiwork of Elohim; personal joys and tragedies may be quite accidental or the hand of Elohim guiding our lives… the choice is ours!

Sanctuary symbolizes His Presence in everything and the terms dwelling-place and sanctity refer to Elohim and to Israel (Kahal). Elohim makes His abode in what man sanctifies! Be ye holy like He is holy and He will dwell with us. Therefore, the Torah insists on the use of physical objects in the rituals. A wool cloth becomes an instrument of fulfilling Elohim’s will when it becomes a tallit; an animal skin when it becomes tefillin; a mezuzah, a Torah scroll, or a shofar.

What does Elohim do? He takes a shattered people and starts to rebuild them. How? He assembles them! Vayak’hel! They once gathered around a golden calf and sinned. Now they will gather together and build a Sanctuary. This is an act of tikkun! Tikkun is a restoration, a making-good-again, redemption of a past misdemeanor. Just as the sin was committed by the people acting as a Kahal, so atonement was to be achieved by them again acting as a Kahal, but this time, they will be making a home for the Divine Presence as they earlier sought to make a substitute for it.

Moses orchestrates the people for good as they had once been assembled for bad. It’s a REDO! The difference lies not only in the purpose but in the form of the verb, from passive in the case of the calf to active in the case of Moses. Passivity allows bad things to happen and wherever it says, “and it came to pass”, it is a sign of impending tragedy. Proactivity is the defeat of tragedy and wherever it says, “and there will be”, it is a sign of impending joy.

As we look a little deeper into Exodus 35:1 it alerts us to the nature of community in the Bible. In classical Hebrew there are three different words for community: edah; tzibbur; kehillah which signifies the different kinds of association. Edah meaning witness and carries the meaning, “to appoint, fix, assign, set apart, designate, and/or determine. These people have a strong sense of collective identity. They have witnessed the same things and are bent on the same purpose. We are an “Edah”, a community of shared faith who are like-minded with a strong identity and much in common. In contrast the next word is “Tzibbur” meaning “to heap or pile up”. It is many people assembling for a particular event but have a different sense of identity and have nothing in common except they find themselves together. Now, we have the “Kehillah” which is different than the other two words. The members are different from each other, they are orchestrated together for a collective undertaking and the only danger is that it can become a mass, a rabble, a crowd. However, the beauty is that it is driven by constructive purposes. It gathers together the distinct and separate contributions of many individuals so that each can say, “I helped to make this!” This is why Moses assembled the people and in Exodus 35:4-9 we see that he emphasized that each has something different to give to the construction of the Tabernacle.

Moses was able to turn the Kehillah, with its diversity, into an edah, with its singleness of purpose, while preserving the diversity of the gifts they brought to Elohim. The greatness of the Tabernacle was that it was a collective achievement—one in which NOT everyone did the same thing. Each member had a different gift! Each contribution was valued, therefore each participant felt valued. “Vayak’hel” – Moses’ ability to forge out of the dissolution of the people a new and genuine Kehillah was one of his greatest achievements. Today we need to preserve the diversity of a “tzibbur” with the unity of purpose of an edah—that is the challenge of Kehillah. The formation and community-building itself is the greatest task of a great leader. We are part of an edah! We are the witness working together uniquely allowing the Kingdom of Elohim to be seen in our lives and to the lives He has brought us to! Let the Kehillah Arise!

Shabbat Shalom Mishpocha,

Join us every Wednesday night at 7 pm for Bible study and every Saturday at 11 am for Sabbath service at:

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Celebrate the King! Be the Kehillah Yeshua desires you to be! Gather together and let His glory be known among the people! See you at the altar!

Shalom Alecheim

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