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Torah Commentary
Vayak'heil (February 22, 2014)

Benjamin J. Zeidman, Assistant Rabbi

PARASHAT VAYAK’HEIL BEGINS with the warning to do no work on the seventh day, the Sabbath. It then continues with instructions for constructing the Tabernacle. Last week, a description of the Tabernacle’s construction ended with instructions regarding resting on the Sabbath (Exodus 31:12-17).

With this connection between the edifice of holy space and holy time, we mark the importance of resting even from sacred work. Laboring to build the dwelling place of the Divine name itself, despite its high calling, is not appropriate on the day of rest. This was meant to be a time for sacredness within, not sacredness without. Each individual, in the tradition of our Torah, deserves Shabbat. No one is exempt, and that means everyone is equally able to honor and celebrate it. It is a time for rich and poor, for manual worker and leader. Everyone turns their attention to the holiness in their own lives and toward sanctifying God with prayer and song.

How often do we shirk our Sabbath responsibilities, with the inclination that the work we are doing is more important? How often do we push aside a restful moment with loved ones to finish “one more thing”? We miss opportunities to worship in order to stay at work a little longer. We miss a Shabbat meal with loved ones to do a little more in the office.

This week we are reminded that no matter the task, nothing is more important than the Sabbath each of us equally deserves.

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