THE TANACH STUDY CENTER [http://www.tanach.org]

In Memory of Rabbi Abraham Leibtag



Questions for self-study



1. As you most probably are aware, Chazal learn the halachik definition of MELACHA [work] on shabbat from any type of 'work' that was required to construct the Mishkan (better known as the "lamed-tet melachot"). The opening three psukim of Parshat Va'yakhel are one of the primary reasons for this definition.

[See Mesechet Shabbat chapter 7.]

Review these psukim (i.e. Shmot 35:1-4) in their context, and attempt to explain why. Would you consider this halachik interpretation as "pshat" or "drash"?

2. Carefully compare the structure of the psukim in Shmot 35:1-4 to the structure of Vayikra 23:1-4.

What textual pattern is similar?

In your opinion, does the phrase "ayleh ha'devarim" in 35:1 relate to the laws of Shabbat that follow in 35:2-3, or to the laws of the Mishkan that follow in 35:4-20?

Why do most all of the commentators explain "ayleh ha'dEvarim" as relating to the Mishkan and NOT shabbat?

[See also Parshanut section below.]

Is this "pshat"? Why then is "shabbat" the first mitzvah that Moshe tells the people? [See Ramban on 35:1.]

Relate this to your answer to question #1 above.

3. Next, review the laws of Shabbat as presented in 31:12-17, noting how these psukim form the final 'parshia' after a sequence of seven chapters of laws concerning the Mishkan (i.e. the Mishkan unit of chapters 25->31). Explain how this juxtaposition supports Chazal's definition of "melacha" on shabbat.

4. Note the word "brit" and its context in 31:16; relate to the word "ot" in 31:13. Where else in Chumash do we find the concept of "ot brit"? [If you give up, try looking in Breishit chapters 9 and 17.] Why does a "brit" need an "ot"? [Or re-phrased - Why does a bride need a wedding ring?]

In your opinion, why would the concept of shabbat being an "ot brit" immediately follow the laws of the Mishkan (whose focal point is the "luchot ha'BRIT")? Relate to the Mishkan's name - i.e. the "OHEL MOED", and what that name implies. [Note also Vayikra 23:1-3!]. Relate this to Shmot 29:44-46 (and our shiur on Parshat Tezaveh).

5. How is the halachik definition for "melacha" on yom-tov different from its definition on shabbat? Based on the above questions, can you suggest a reason why?

In your answer, relate to the difference between 'creativity' and 'physical labor'; & the reason why we don't work on Yom Tov, based on Vayikra chapter 23.


1. When Moshe gathers the people (in 35:1) in order to command them concerning the laws of the Mishkan, why do you think that Torah chooses specifically the word "VAYAKHEL" to describe this gathering?

Relate to Shmot 32:1.

2. Is the "melacha" of "ha'avara" (35:3 /increasing a fire, i.e. making a flame or furnace hotter) in any way connected to "chet ha'egel"? If so, how? [Relate to 32:4,24.]

Is this "melacha" connected in any manner to building the Mishkan or making any of its vessels? [e.g. How did they make the ARON & the MENORAH etc.?]

3. What other parallels can you find in Vayakhel/Pkudei to "chet ha'egel"? Relate to 33:7 (in contrast to 25:8) and Rashi on Shmot 29:1.

4. Even if we assume (like Ramban) that the commandment to build the Mishkan was given BEFORE chet ha'egel, when do Bnei Yisrael first hear this mitzvah? When they do hear this mitzvah, would you expect that these laws be relayed in a manner that relates in some way to the events of chet ha'egel?

If so, cite some examples.


1. Review Parshat Vayakhel, noting the primary topic of each of its 'parshiot'. As usual, make a vertical listing of these parshiot, using one word (or at most a phrase) to summarize each parshia. After you complete your list, attempt to organize it into outline form.

Then, take this outline, and compare it to the similar outline that you prepared made for Parshat Terumah. Attempt to understand what it the governing principle for each Parsha.

How would you define the order of Parshat Vayakhel?

How would you define the order of Parshat Terumah?

In your opinion, is one order more logical than the other? Attempt to explain the reason for the differences, based on the setting (and/or purpose) of each Parsha.

2. Is the description of how the vessels are made in Vayakhel exactly the same as their description in God's commandment to Moshe in Parshat Terumah? If not, what aspect is different?

Is there any mention in Parshat Vayakhel concerning the FUNCTION of the various vessels of the Mishkan?

If so, where?

If not, in your opinion, why not?

3. Is there any mention of the SHCHINA in Vayakhel/Pkudei?

Is there any mention of the SHCHINA in Trumah/Tezaveh?

If so, where, and why?

Can you explain the reason for the differences.

[Are there any commandments in Terumah/Tzaveh that are not repeated in Vayakhel/Pkudei. If so, which ones?

Are those which are 'missing' here repeated somewhere else in Chumash? If so, where? Can you explain why. In your answer relate to the difference between 'building' the Mishkan, and 'using' it.

Keep this question in mind when you study Sefer Vayikra.]

4. Recall how the ARON forms the focal point of the Mishkan, and how the KAPORET forms its 'protective cover' (see Shmot 25:10-22 & TSC shiur on Yom KiPpur).

In your opinion, what is the purpose of the KERUVIM on the KAPORET? Similarly, what is the purpose of the KERUVIM embroidered on the PAROCHET? (See Shmot 26:31.)

Is there a mention of KERUVIM earlier in Chumash? If so, what was their function? [If you give up, take a look at the end of chapter three in Sefer Breishit.]

What is the thematic significance of this parallel.

5. Review Mishlei 3:1-18, noting especially 3:18 in its context. What does the "etz chayim" refer to? Can you relate this to the "etz ha'chayim" in Gan Eden and the KERUVIM that protect it?

Relate your answer to the above question as well.

6. Attempt to find any thematic similarities between the story of Adam in Gan Eden, and the story of the first & second Luchot (in relation to chet ha'egel).

See if you can relate this to any of the point discussed above in regard to the purpose of the Mishkan and what it symbolizes.


[Even though the following questions begin with Ki-tisa, you'll soon see their connection to Vayakhel.]

1. Based on what you remember thus far in Sefer Shmot, what specific mitzvot did Moshe Rabeinu receive on Har Sinai?

WHEN did Bnei Yisrael receive these mitzvot?

[Support your answer with a pasuk!]

[In your answer, relate to mitzvot that Moshe received during both the first forty days AND the last forty days.]

2. After you answer question #1, read Shmot 34:27-35, paying special attention to pasuk 32. [Did you relate to this pasuk in your answer to question #1! If not, re-answer question #1.]

In your opinion, which 'commandments' does this pasuk refer to?[You can suggest different possibilities.]

Now, see the following commentators on 34:32,

Rashbam / [Explain the 'unit' he is referring to.]

Ramban / [In what way does he differ from Rashbam?]

Ibn Ezra /[What "tnayim" is he referring to?

In what way does he differ from Ramban?]

Seforno/ [Is this the same as Rashbam or different?

Explain what is different and why!]

Chizkuni / Does Chizkuni answer this question?

3. Carefully review this Chizkuni (on 34:32) once again, noting how he explains HOW and WHEN the Torah, as we have it today, was written. See also the Gemara that he quotes from Gitin 60a concerning "torah megillah megillah nitna".

According to this Chizkuni, how can one understand the reason for Chazal's exegetic approach of "ein mukdam u'muchar ba'Torah"?

4. Based on your answer to question #2, how would you explain the phrase "AYLEH HA'DEVARIM..." in the first pasuk of Parshat Vayakhel (35:1)? In other words, what "devarim"is Moshe referring to.

As usual, you can suggest several possibilities.

[Be sure to relate to 35:4 & 35:20.]

Then, look up the following commentaries:

Ramban / (see Ramban on the entire pasuk!)

How does Ramban relate to 34:32?

Seforno / How does Sforno relate to 34:32?

Ibn Ezra ("katzar")/ see Gemara Shabbat 70a which he quotes.

Why does Ibn Ezra argue with this interpretation?

Chizkuni/ Is this the same interpretation as Ramban?


5. Read 38:8, and attempt to translate this pasuk. Which words are difficult, and basically - why is important to know from where the copper of the KIYOR came from? {Where did the copper for the MIZBACH HA'NECHOSHET come from? See 38:29-31!

See Rashi, noting how answers the above questions. According to Rashi, explain the difference of opinion between Moshe and Hashem concerning the use of this copper.

Next, see Ibn Ezra (also on 38:8). In what manner is his pirush totally different than Rashi's. According to each, WHY did the women donate their copper mirrors specifically for the KIYOR?

Then, see Ramban, noting what point bothers him in Rashi's pirush. How does Ramban answer this question, why does he quote Unkelos, and why does he maintain that Unkelos seems to follow in the lines of Ibn Ezra's pirush.

Finally, see Seforno. What textual difficulty does his pirush deal with. How does his pirush relate to Ibn Ezra's?