Parshas Vayakhel

ADAR I, 5779

 Interpreting Artifacts

As in the gift of Manna, so it is in the memory of artifacts

After the exodus from Egypt, Hashem gifted the Jews with manna, ’heavenly bread’, to consume during their travels in the wilderness.

Hashem furthermore commanded Moshe:

וַיֹּ֣אמֶר משֶׁ֗ה זֶ֤ה הַדָּבָר֙ אֲשֶׁ֣ר צִוָּ֣ה הֹ' מְלֹ֤א הָעֹ֨מֶר֙ מִמֶּ֔נּוּ לְמִשְׁמֶ֖רֶת לְדֹרֹֽתֵיכֶ֑ם לְמַ֣עַן יִרְא֣וּ אֶת־הַלֶּ֗חֶם אֲשֶׁ֨ר הֶֽאֱכַ֤לְתִּי אֶתְכֶם֙ בַּמִּדְבָּ֔ר בְּהֽוֹצִיאִ֥י אֶתְכֶ֖ם מֵאֶ֥רֶץ מִצְרָֽיִם

“Moses said, This is the thing that the Lord commanded: Let one omerful of it be preserved for your generations, in order that they see the bread that I fed you in the desert when I took you out of the land of Egypt.”

Like the saved Manna, the Torah is providing us with a template to preserve the meaning of the Holocaust artifact.



Dear Friend,

Rabbi Baruch HaLevi Epstein (1860–1941) was raised in Novardok, Lithuania, and after his marriage, he moved to Pinsk. He published several sefarim including Torah Temimah and Tosfos Bracha. He was killed in 1941, during the Nazi occupation of Pinsk.


The pasuk in this week’s parsha states:  

וַיֹּ֤אמֶר משֶׁה֙ אֶל־בְּנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל רְא֛וּ קָרָ֥א ה' בְּשֵׁ֑ם בְּצַלְאֵ֛ל בֶּן־אוּרִ֥י בֶן־ח֖וּר לְמַטֵּ֥ה יְהוּדָֽה וַיְמַלֵּ֥א אֹת֖וֹ ר֣וּחַ אֱלֹהִ֑ים בְּחָכְמָ֛ה בִּתְבוּנָ֥ה וּבְדַ֖עַת וּבְכָל־מְלָאכָֽה

(שמות ל'ה: ל-לא)

 Moshe said to the children of Israel: "See, the L-rd has called by name Betzalel, the son of Uri, the son of Chur, of the tribe of Yehuda. He has imbued him with the spirit of G-d, with wisdom, with insight, and with knowledge, and with [talent for] all manner of craftsmanship." 

The medrash points out that the passuk  וּמְצָא־חֵ֖ן וְשֵֹֽכֶל־ט֑וֹב בְּעֵינֵ֖י אֱלֹהִ֣ים וְאָדָֽם (and find favor and good understanding in the sight of God and man) משלי ג:ד, refers to the appointment of Betzalel to build the Mishkan.

The תוספת ברכה offers the following explanation of this medrash:

When one is looking for a tradesman to do a specific job, we ask for references and approbations from masters in the field. No one wants someone that has no proof of the abilities to work on their house, car or even for medical issues. In this weeks parshah, Klal Yisroel is about to embark on the most important project, one that will have ramifications forever, the building of the Mishkan. However, there was no one who could shoe any qualifications for the job! Hence the Ribbono Shel Olam had to be the source of proof for Betzalel. Hashem verified the character of Betzlalel, obviously there is no better approbation than that, one who is recognized by Hashem will automatically be recognized by people.

This is the message of the medrash. Betzalel teaches us that when we have a good name for being G-d fearing people, others will trust that we are reliable as well.

May we all merit to have a good name in the eyes of Hashem and subsequently, all others!




 (וַיִּקְח֞וּ מִלִּפְנֵ֣י משֶׁ֗ה אֵ֤ת כָּל־הַתְּרוּמָה֙ אֲשֶׁ֨ר הֵבִ֜יאוּ בְּנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֗ל לִמְלֶ֛אכֶת עֲבֹדַ֥ת הַקֹּ֖דֶשׁ לַֽעֲשׂ֣ת אֹתָ֑הּ וְ֠הֵ֠ם הֵבִ֨יאוּ אֵלָ֥יו ע֛וֹד נְדָבָ֖ה בַּבֹּ֥קֶר בַּבֹּֽקֶר (שמות ל"ו:ג

 “So they took from before Moses all the offering[s] that the children of Israel had brought for the work of the service of the Holy, and they brought him more gifts every morning.”


Unfortunately many of the shuls were destroyed during the Holocaust. May the remains of the buildings be sold, and if so, how are the monies from the sales meant to be used?


Although we don’t reduce kedushah from an object, in these circumstances, there are exceptions. Shuls are built with a conditional understanding that they will be used for prayer services. In the event that this is no longer possible, and the condition is no longer met, than the stringency of not reducing its kedushah is no longer binding. However, regarding the monies, these should be spent on other communal needs, as these were given with the intention to support the community in the first place, and this can still be accomplished.

 שאילת יצחק / מהדורה תניינא / סימן קכז

 Click here to read the whole Teshuvah


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