Vayakhel/Pekudei 5773 – Precious Parshios

Every man whose heart impels him to generosity (Shemos 35:5)
–I have already explained the contributions to the mishkon and its work in the place where they were commanded (RASHI)

I was recently listening to a shiur given by Rav Ephraim Wachsman and he asked the question that many have: since the Torah does not waste any words, why are Parshas Vayakhel/Pekudei filled with verses which are an exact repetition of Terumah and Tetzaveh? Furthermore, the Ohr Chaim states that Vayakhel/Pekudei are parshios that are precious to Hashem. What is so precious about them?

Rav Wachsman gives an amazing answer. In Parshas Yisro and Mishpatim, the Jews stood at Har Sinai and received the Torah. They excitedly exclaimed “Na’aseh VeNishma” – we will do and we will listen. Any commandment Hashem gives us, we will keep it. The angels flew down and put two crowns on everyone’s head (one for Na’aseh and one for Nishma). But then, forty days later, the terrible sin of the Golden Calf occurred. The angels came down again and took the crowns off of our heads. Three thousand people were killed immediately and Chazal tell us that many thousands more were affected by a plague. We sunk to a terribly low level. We felt terrible.

Parshas Terumah and Tetzaveh are placed before the account of the Golden Calf and Vayakhel/Pekudei are after. This is to teach us a lesson. The verses are exactly the same to teach us that just as before the Golden Calf the Jews were willing to perform all of the work of the Mishkan to every detail, after the Golden Calf, the Jews still performed the work of the Mishkan to every detail. This is important because it is difficult to go through a hard time, but after the suffering passes, it is even more difficult. Survivors state that the Holocaust was awful, but after surviving and seeing how much was actually destroyed, it was even more difficult. Even though the suffering passed, it was even worse after the war. After the Golden Calf, the Jews in the desert worked hard to avoid depression and enthusiastically perform the building of the Mishkan just like they were commanded.

Years ago, I worked two summers at a camp in New Jersey. Both years I had a camper named Charlie. Near the end of the first summer, a life guard needed to jump into the pool to save him because he started drowning. The rest of that year and most of the next summer, it was extremely difficult to get Charlie to swim in the pool. Charlie went through a tragic event, but it was after the event that was worse. Every time we had our swimming period, it reminded him of the event and brought back bad memories. For the next year, the remembrance of his drowning depressed him.

The Torah is teaching us an important lesson. We can rise after we fall. We can sink to the very bottom, but we can still rise to great levels. It is difficult to go through times of suffering, but it is even more difficult afterwards. But if a person works hard, he can overcome the difficult time and become “precious” in the Eyes of Hashem.

Good Shabbos!
-yes
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