This Shabbat, Parshat Vayakhel Pekudei, candle lighting will be at 6:42 PM in Brooklyn New York. The double parsha is the final reading in the book of Shemot, also known as the book of Exodus. In addition, the month of Nissan, in which Passover occurs is blessed this Shabbat. One of the practices on Shabbat is to bless the new month on Shabbat morning if it occurs in the week following Shabbat.
Candle lighting, which is 18 minutes before sunset, differs from one locality to another. Chabad.org has the candle lighting time for your location, as well as articles on the parsha and other topics of interest. These articles can be printed out to be read on Shabbat. In addition, Aish.com similarly has a wide assortment of educational and entertaining materials in written and in multimedia format.
Chabad.org has an article this week about a Dutch man , Dirk Evenhuis, who lives in Tasmania, Australia, the”edge of the world”. At the age of 70 Evenhuis discovered that his mysteriously deep feeling of affinity with Jews was not so mysterious after all, that he was in fact Jewish. Because he was able to share his discovery with rabbis from Chabad, he was able to further his spiritual journey. Individuals such as Evenhuis bring with them unique perspectives and experiences that enrich the lives and insight of all who come in contact with them.
Aish.com has a story about a prisoner covered with swastika tattoos who took great risks to his own personal safety to renounce his use of hatred to define himself. The story reminds me of the famous saying of Abraham Lincoln that “The best way to get rid of an enemy is to turn him into a friend”.
This week’s parsha, which is a double parsha deals with the commandments of Shabbat, as well as the completion of the Mishkan, which was a sort of portable temple that the Israelites took with them in the desert before the current location of the Holy Temple was designated in a spot temporarily occupied by the al Akhsa mosque.
The Torah reading also deals with the items and funds that were collected to build the Mishkon. It is clear from the written text and the commentary that detailed accounts were kept of what was collected from the Jewish people to build the Mishkon. It is worth noting that when enough materials had been collected, Moshe announced a stop to collection activities.
The Haftorah that is read this week is I Kings 7:51-8:21. It deals with the construction of the Temple in the time of Solomon, at which time it was put up in its fixed location above where the Western Wall is today.
The activities involved in the construction of the Mishkan are all prohibited on Shabbat. Observance of these prohibitions is necessary to experience fully the beauty of Shabbat, much as spelling and grammar restrictions must be observed to experience the beauty and expressive range of a spoken and written language. I wish all of my readers a peaceful and enjoyable Shabbat.