In Loving Memory of our Dear Parents

Benjamin Assa & Rebeca Assa z"L

Parasha Vayakhel

The Parshah of Vayak'hel records the actual fulfillment of G-d's commandments on how to build the Mishkan, in accordance with the instructions Moshe received which were recounted in earlier parashiot. 


It should be noted that last week's parashah, Ki-Tisa, took place on the day of Yom Kippur of the year 2448, 6 months after the exodus from Egypt , and this parasha was on the morning after Yom Kippur. 

After Moshe descends from the Mount with the second tablets, he warns the Jewish Nation to observe the laws of Shabbat, Moshe tells them that they can not transgress its laws by building the Mishkan.


Moshe continues informing them everything related to the donations for the building of the Mishkan. All Bnei Israel began to work with eagerness toward the building of the Mishkan and joyfully and enthusiastically brought all the necessary donations.


Betzalel and Ahaliav were chosen to be the ones who would build the vessels of the Mishkan. They were inspired with Divine understanding in order to enable them to create the vessels exactly as Hashem had commanded. 

After a few days, the artisans informed Moshe that they had enough donations. Moshe asked the Nation to stop with the contributions.

The Parasha mentions the elaboration of: the Altar of Burnt Offerings, the Basin, the tapestries, the tent covering, the walls of the Mishkan, the Parochet, the screen for the doorway, the Ark, the Kaporet (Ark´s cover), the table, the Menorah, the Incense Altar and the courtyard. Betzalel also madethe Anointing Oil holy, and the Incense of Spices pure..

Parasha Tetzaveh

G-D says to Moshe, ¨You shall command the children of Israel, that they bring to you pure olive oilcrushed for the light, to raise an everlasting flame.¨ And with this order, Bnei Israel receives a new mitzvah, the kindling of the menorah with the purest of oils, oil obtained from the first pressing of an olive oil.

Hashem assigns Aharon and his descendants to be Kohanim, and Aharon becomes the first Kohen Hagadol.

The Kohen Hagadol wore 8 priestly garments: 

1.THE BREAST PLATE (CHOSHEN MISHPAT): 

It was a square chest plate, containing 12 gems, in each was engraved the name of the 12 sons of Yaacov..

2.THE APRON (EFOD): 

It was an apron woven with golden threads. Its back was supported by two shoulder straps overlapping the kohen´s shoulders to the front. The stones were engraved with the names of the twelve tribes of Israel.

3. THE MANTEL (ME´IL):

It was a sleeveless mantle made of sky blue wool, attached to its bottom hem were adornments that tinkled when the Kohen walked.

4. THE HEAD PLATE (TZITZ):

Worn on the Kohen´s forehead, it was a golden plate on which was engraved the letters ¨kodesh laHashem.¨

5. SHIRT (KETÓNET):

Shirt-like garment woven from white linen, reached down to the kohen´s soles.

6.BREECHES (MICHNASAYIM):

They were woven from white linen.

7. THE BELT (AVNAIT):

It was a belt woven from four different kinds of materials. It was very long and went around the kohen´s waist several times.

8. THE TURBAN (MITZNEFET, MIGBA´AS): 

It consisted of a long ribbon of white linen that wrapped around the kohen´s head several times.

The Kohanim wore four garments:

  • the ketonet, the shirt

  • the mishnasayim, the breeches

  • the avnait, the belt

  • the migba´as, the turban

 Moshe presented Aharon and his children, by the entrance of the Mishkan, dressed in their priestly garments. The inauguration of the Mishkan lasted seven days.

Hashem commands that a lam be offered on the mizbach every morning and every afternoon.

And Hashem affirms the sanctity of the Mishkan, and announces that this will be His dwelling next to Bnei Israel.

THE INTERIOR ALTAR, THE MIZBACH HAPENIMI (which is not described in the previous parasha): 

It was made of shittim wood and covered with pure gold, measured 60 square centimeters and its height was 1.20 meters. It was located in the kodesh section between the shulchan and the menorah and it served for the burning of the ketoret, (incense), which was done every morning and every afternoon. Hashem said, ¨The ketoret is the most beloved of all offerings. All the other korbanot atone for transgressions, but the ketoret is offered purely to bring joy and happiness.¨

Only after the ketoret was offered did the Shechina come down to reside in the Mishkan.

 

Parasha Mishpatim

 

This Parasha contains a great number of laws Hashem taught Moshe immediately after the giving of the Torah.

Some of the laws cited in this Parasha are laws concerning:

 

-Slavery

-Damage done to his fellow man

-Civil liability for loans and deposits

-Abuse of minors

-Witchcraft

-Idolatry

-Proper treatment of a converse

-Prohibition against afflicting a widow or an orphan

-Robberies

-Loans

-Respect

-Bikurim

-Prohibition against eating Taref

-Returning something lost

-Lies, injustices and bribes

-Shmitta (Sabbatical Year)

-Observance of Shabbat

-Observance of Pesach, Shavuot and Sukkoth

...Among others

Hashem then promises protection throughout their journey in the desert.

Hashem advises the Bnei Israel to follow His precepts so they can receive His blessings and inherit the PROMISED LAND, the conditions necessary to conquer it and the warning against assimilation.

At the end of Parasha Mishpatim, the Torah relates events which took place prior to Matan Torah. It narrates how Ha commanded that Moshe, Aharon and his children, along with the 70 Elders should ascend the mountain. On that day Moshe wrote the first Sefer Torah.

 

The Torah then continues narrating what occurred after the giving of the Torah: ¨And Hashem said to Moshe, "Come up to Me to the mountain and remain there, and I will give you the stone tablets, the Law and the commandments, which I have written to instruct them."

And Moshe ascended the Har Sinai, and remained there for 40 days and 40 nights studying Torah in detail and with explanations.

Perasha Yitro

This Parasha begins with the reunion of Moshe with Yitro (his father in-law), Tzipora (his wife) and their two children, Gershom and Eliezer, by the camp of Bnei Israel.


Moshe´s wife and children had been returned to Midian to spare them suffering in Egypt and they arrived to the place where the Bnei Israel encamped in the desert.


And Moshe greets his father-in-law with a royal welcome and relates the miraculous events the children of Israel experienced and how Hashem saved them. 


And Yitro recognized Hashem, becoming the first guer tzeddek!!

After observing the daunting task of attending the needs of 600,000, Yitro advises Moshe to appoint a hierarchy of judges to share the burden.

 

Moshe, with Hashem´s approval, accepts Yitro´s advice, every great matter Moshe will deal with but delegates the most simple of tasks .

On Rosh Chodesh Sivan 2448, the Bnei Israel arrived in the desert of Har Sinai. 


Hashem sent Moshe to convey his proposal: "If the People obey My voice and keep My covenant, they shall be My chosen people".

And the people, with ONE voice, answered. ¨NAASE VENISHMA¨!!!!! “All that G d has spoken, we will do."

The People of Israel prepared themselves for the ¨Giving of the Torah.¨ G d instructs that the people should purify and sanctify themselves for two days, and warned the people against touching ¨even the edges¨ of the mountain for 3 days.

And on the 6th of Sivan, which was Shabbat, when it was morning, there were thunders and lightnings, and a thick cloud upon the mountain, and a loud sound of ashofar was heard, so that all the people in the camp trembled. The mountain was covered by smoke, because the Divine Presence descended upon it. 

And Moshe descended toward Am Israel. 

G d came down upon Mount Sinai, and Hashem spoke and the People heard, directly from the ¨mouth¨of Hashem the first two commandments. The other 8 commandments were taught to the people by Moshe. 


1. ¨I am Hashem, your G-d, Who brought you out of the land of Egypt.¨

  1. ¨You shall have no other gods!¨

  2. ¨Do not pronounce Hashem´s name in vain.¨

  3. ¨You shall observe the Shabbat.¨

  4. ¨You shall honor your father and mother.¨

  5. ¨You shall not murder,¨

  6. ¨You shall not commit adultery¨

  7. ¨You shall not steal.¨

  8. ¨You shall not bear false witness against your fellow man.¨

  9. ¨You shall not covet.¨

 

¨Do not fear¨ Moshe tells them, ¨for it was a great privilege Hashem has granted you.¨


The Parasha concludes by reiterating the prohibition against idol worshipping, and the prohibition to use any iron tools in constructing an altar to G d.

Perasha Beshalaj

With the Jews leaving Egypt, Moshe takes along with him Joseph´s bones for burial in the Holy Land.

They left from the territory of Succoth and they were led by Hashem through a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night.

Wanting to mislead Pharaoh into thinking that the Jews had lost their way in the desert so that he and his army would chase them, Hashem orders the Bnei Israel to head back to Egypt.

When the people of Israel observed the Egyptian persecution, they claimed to Moshe,

"Are there no graves in Egypt, that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness? Why have you done this to us, to carry us out of Egypt?¨

They found themselves locked between the Yam Suf and the Egyptians!

Moshe tells them: 
"Fear not; stand by and see the salvation of G d, which He will show you today. For as you have seen Egypt this day, you shall not see them again any more forever.

Hashem orders the Jews to advance and to get into the sea.... And when part of Bnei Israel had entered the sea, Hashem commanded the sea to split, the water became solid walls and the Jews walked on dry land. 

The Egyptians got in after them, but as the Hebrews advanced the dry land became mud for the Egyptians.

When all the Egyptians had entered the bed of the sea, Hashem commanded Moshe to stretch out his hand so that the waters should resume to their natural flow and drown the Egyptians, their horses and their riders. 

And this is how it occurred that on the 7th day after leaving Egypt, the persecutors of Israel disappeared under the sea. (Except Pharaoh)

Upon seeing the great miracle, "The people feared G d, and they believed in G d and in Moses His servant, " then Moshe and all the children of Israel sang ¨Shirat Hayam,¨ with gratitude and thanks to Hashem. Headed by Miriam, Moshe´s sister, the women also participated in this ¨Shira.¨

But soon the children of Israel suffer a great transformation.

After having crossed the sea, they journey through the desert for three days straight. Exhausted they can´t find water.

All of a sudden they find find a well of water, but Hashem had made its waters bitter, and they call the place Mara, bitter. They complain to Moshe and Moshe cries out to Hashem. 
Hashem orders Moshe to cast a piece of wood into the water, and miraculously the water converts into sweet drinking water. 

And Hashem proclaims: ¨I am our G-D who cures.¨

Finding themselves without substance, once again the Bnei Israel, hungry, complain to Moshe and Aharon.

 

And Hashem heard their please, in the evening He made a wind blow which brought with it quails and in the morning with the fall of dew, the Heavenly bread descended, calling it mann. 

The ¨mann¨ ,with a Heavenly flavor, had to be collected daily. If they collected more than what they needed, it spoiled. Only on Shabbat were they allowed to collect a double portion in honor of the Shabbat

Some skeptics, would go out on Shabbat to look for ¨Mann¨ unable to find any. This provoked Hashem´s anger ,¨How many more miracles will I have to perform until you observe My mitzvoth and My teachings?¨He exclaimed.

They continued their journey and when they reached Refidim, there was no water once again. 

Hashem orders Moshe to take his staff and to hit the rock, water flowed from the rock and the Bnei Israel were able to drink.

Our doubtful faith in Hashem brought as a consequence the war with Amalek. Moshe commands Yehoshua to choose strong and G-d fearing men to fight against Amalek. 
Moshe, Aharon and Jhur (son of Miriam) ascended the top of hill to observe the battle. When Moshe raised his arms the Bnei Israel prevailed in battle , but when they weakened, Amalek prevailed. But Moshe soon felt his hands growing as heavy as iron, so Aharon and Jhur supported his hands until Amalek was defeated. 

Hashem told Moshe, ¨Record in the Torah that the people of Amalek possessed the brazenness to attack the Jewish people after yetziat Mitzrayim, and therefore they were smitten by me.¨

Moshe built an altar to commemorate the miraculous war against Amalek.

Perasha Bo

In this Parasha we learn about the last three plagues Hashem sends to the Egyptians.

Before the 8th plague, Pharaoh, pressured by his Egyptian servants, accepts to liberate the Jews as long as the CHILDREN and WOMEN stay in Egypt. Pharaoh does not accept and orders Moshe and Aharon out of his palace.

8.LOCUST: The locusts devoured every bit that was left over in the Egyptian´s fields.

9.DARKNESS: On the first three days, the Egyptians were able to move around freely in the dark, but during the following three days the darkness thickened, and the Egyptians were no longer able to move.

And so Pharaoh accepts to liberate the Men, the Women, and the Children, but they must leave their animals behind. Moshe denies his proposal.

Moshe warns Pharaoh about the last plague: slaying of the first-born, but once again Pharaoh does not listen.

Before sending the 10th plague, Hashem conveys to Moshe and Aharon a series of mitzvoth (divine commandments) in preparation for their Exodus from Egypt.

 

  1. Set the Jewish calendar in accordance with the monthly cycle of the moon, starting with Nissan.

  2. Bring a Korban (offering) Pesaj while still in the land of Egypt.

  3. Each year you must celebrate the Pesaj holiday for seven days, beginning at night on the 15th of Nissan.

  4. Seven days you shall eat matzot and eliminate all Chametz from your property.

  5. They should be festive ,not labor days.

 

¨and all first-born Egyptian children were slain, from Pharaoh´s noble sons down to the first-born of each species.¨

Pharaoh comes out begging Moshe that the Bnai Israel leave immediately with everything they wished: children, wives, flocks, herds, etc.

and this is how we fled, almost 5,000,000 people! (600,000 men, women, young, children and the Egyptians who joined the Hebrews).

The 400 years of slavery and pilgrimage began with Itzjak Abinu´s birth and concluded when we left Egypt, fulfilling Hashem´s decree.

The last chapter of the Parasha speaks about the mitzvah of ¨PIDION¨ sanctifying the first-born, in commemoration of Hashem´s killing the first-born of Egypt and sparing the Jewish first-born.

And this is how this Parasha ends, with the mitzvah of Tefilin: ¨a sign on your arm and a remembrance between your eyes, that G d’s Torah be in your mouth; for with a strong hand did G d bring you out of Egypt”.

Perasha Va'era

This week the Parasha begins with the liberation of the Jews from Egypt.

And so our story begins….

Hashem says to Moshe “Go in My Name and tell the Yehudim that I will, BRING them out of Egypt, SAVE them from bondage, REDEEM them, and TAKE THEM unto Me as a nation.”

But the Children of Israel, anguished in spirit, do not believe Moshe.

And so Moshe asks Hashem: “If the Nation of Israel does not believe me, why would Pharaoh listen to me?”

The Torah breaks in its narrative and gives the names of the members of the tribe of Levy, which descend from Moshe.

The Parasha continues with Hashem´s warning to Moshe about Pharaoh´s ¨hardening of the heart¨and that he will demand of them a miraculous sign.

And so it occurred, that Aharon at the age of 83 and Moshe at the age of 80, present themselves in front of Pharaoh, and he does not believe them. Aharon throws his staff and this transforms into a serpent.

 

And Pharaoh's magicians performed the same miracle, but Aharon's serpent opened its mouth wide and ate all of the other snakes.

And just how Hashem had foretold, Pharaoh hardened his heart and did not let the children of Israel go.

And this is where the devastating Ten Plagues for the Egyptians begin:

1. BLOOD: The Nile River and all of the waters used by the Egyptians turned into blood.

2.FROGS: The Egyptians were invaded by them. The frogs filled the Egyptians´ houses, their stomachs, their food, their fields! During this plague it seems Pharoah is ready to free the Bnei Israel, but as soon as the plague ends, Pharaoh again hardenes his heart.

3.LICE: They were infested by an epidemic of lice. In this plague, Pharaoh´s magicians recognize that this is not witchcraft, but the hand of Hashem.

4.WILD BEASTS: Wild beasts flocked into Egypt.

5.PESTILENCE: A heavy pestilence struck the Egyptian animals, killing all of them.

6.BOILS: All Egyptians were covered by painful blisters.

7.HAILSTONES: Hailstones, a combination of fire and water, fell upon all of Egypt and Pharaoh appeared to have given up, once the plague ended he refused once again to Let The People Go.

The Parasha concludes with the seventh plague. .

The effect of each plague lasted 1 month, since Pharaoh was warned 7 days prior to the plague, the plague lasted 7 days and the following 14 days they rested until the following plague.

Perasha Shemot

 

This is the 1st Parasha of the Chumash Shemot (names),  and so called because it begins by

listing the names of the 12 tribes of Israel.

In Egypt, the sons of Yaakov multiplied in an extraordinary manner forming a numerous people with much influence within the Egyptian empire.


Pharaoh became very afraid of the growing Jewish population, and formulated new decrees against the Jews, devising plans by which he hoped would weaken the Bnai Israel. He raised their taxes and increased their hard labor.  But the harder Pharaoh oppressed them, the stronger the Jewish people became. 
  
Pharaoh orders: “Cast all Jewish boys into the Nile River to drown!”
 
 But the midwives, Shifra and Pua (who were Yocheved, and Miriam, Moshe’s mother and sister) refuse to obey Pharaoh’s order and they let the babies live.
Moshe, the redeemer of the Jewish people, is born.  His mom Yocheved conceals him from the Egyptians for three months.  Unable to hide him anymore, she places him in a casket and drops him by the banks of the river Nile, while Miriam, his sister, observes him.
 
 
The princess, daughter of Pharaoh, goes out to the river to wash herself when she notices a little casket containing a child.  Seeing the baby, she recognizes that he is a son of the Hebrews, she takes it and carries him away.

  
Miriam approaches the princess and offers to find a Hebrew nurse to feed him. 
 After she nurses him for 24 months, Yocheved returns the child to the princess who adopts him and names him Moshe (he who draws out).  The princess converts and is named Batya (G-d’s daughter).

 
 

Times goes by, Moshe (who is aware of his Jewish background) sees how an Egyptian beats up a Hebrew.  Moshe goes out to defend his fellow Jew killing the Egyptian.

Pharaoh punishes Moshe and decrees a death sentence against him.  Moshe runs away from Egypt and goes to Midian.
 . 

While in Midian, Moshe helps save the livestock that belongs to Yitro’s (high priest of Midian) daughters.  Thankful with Moshe for his help, Yitro invites him for dinner.
 And that is how at the age of 67 Moshe meets Tziporah, Yitro’s daughter.  He marries her, and together they have two sons, Gershom and Eliezer. 

Meanwhile, the Yehudim in Egypt continue suffering and crying out to Hashem for His salvation. 

 
Hashem hears their outcry and reveals Himself to Moshe for the first time through a burning bush by the edge of the Har Sinai. Hashem appears to Moshe in order to send him to Egypt to save the Jewish people.


 And Moshe asks “Who am I that I should go to Egypt and bring the Bnai Israel out of Egypt?”

And Hashem answered “I shall be with you.” But Moshe’s humility held him back. 
 

 So, Hashem shows him three signs, (the snake, leprosy and blood) so he can prove that the G-D of Abraham, Yitzchak and Yaakov appeared to him.  

 And Hashem says to Moshe: “Take this staff in your hands, with it you will carry out all the plagues against Pharaoh.” However, Hashem emphasizes that Pharaoh will refuse to obey…

 
Moshé, with his father-in-law’s permission, goes to Egypt with his wife and children.  On the way to Egypt, Hashem sent an angel to kill Moshe for failure to perform a mila on his son.  Tzipora immediately reacts, takes a knife and circumcises her son, thus saving Moshe.   
  
Moshe arrives to Egypt and meets with his brother Aharon, and Bnai Israel accepts Moshe’s veracity and believes in him.


 
Moshé and Aharón present themselves in front of Pharaoh demanding “Let My people go.”
 
But Pharaoh gets angry and refuses to obey, just as Hashem had warned Moshe.  He demands more hard labor from the Yehudim, and their situation worsens.

 

 

And the people of Israel complain against Moshe. So Moshe asks G-D: "Why did you send me?"

 
 And G-D answers “You shall yet see the miraculous punishments which I will inflict upon Pharaoh, he will be in such a hurry to drive the Bnai Israel from his land…”
 


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