Come Together: Vayakhel-Pekudei 2023

by Adam J. Rosenbaum

Pre-Game Chatter: What things are easier to accomplish in a group setting? What things are best done privately or in a small group?

As the Israelites recover from the Golden Calf incident, Moses asks them to huddle up – literally:

The Pitch: “Moses then convoked the whole Israelite community and said to them: These are the things that the Lord has commanded you to do …” – Exodus 35:1

Swing #1: “Rashi tells us that this day of assembly was the day after Yom Kippur. … Why is it important to know that this was the day after Yom Kippur? Perhaps it is because while on Yom Kippur everyone is holy, the challenge is to be good after Yom Kippur. It is relatively easy to be holy on the holiest day of the year. The test of faith is to maintain our good behavior in the days and weeks following the awesome, sacred experience.” – Rabbi Yossy Goldman, From Where I Stand: Life Messages From the Weekly Torah Reading

Swing #2: “Why would the Torah mention that Moses assembled the people, something that occurred every time he was told by God to address the people? I suppose that seeing the people were afraid to face Moses after they had seen how his face emitted rays of light, he had to issue a call for a general assembly so that some people would not stay at home for fear of being blinded or burned by those rays. This may also be the reason that the Torah emphasized that Moses assembled ‘the entire Jewish community.’” – Or HaChaim

Swing #3: “We read in the biblical account that ‘Moses assembled all the congregation of the Children of Israel’, thus commanding them to unite. But when they had done his bidding he told them at once that ‘these are the words which the Lord has commanded that you should do them,’ implying that unity had meaning only if it was accompanied by obedience to the laws of the Lord.” – HaDrash VeHaEyun

Late-Inning Questions: What emotions are the Israelites likely feeling at this point in the narrative? Is it helpful to them that they are about to embark on a massive building project? Might that task help distract them from their recent trauma? What kinds of large group projects build morale the most?

On-Deck at TBT: Our Men’s Club will be hosting a Drive-Up Food Drive this Sunday from 11am-1pm. Everyone who donates will have a chance to win a Tops Supermarket gift card. Please bring your non-perishable food items!

The Big Inning at the End: Speaking of group dynamics, I’m saddened to know that New York Mets closer Edwin Diaz suffered a major injury after helping his Puerto Rico team to a victory in the World Baseball Classic. Some might say that it was silly for Diaz to have been hurt during an exhibition game, but I wonder whether helping his Puerto Rico team might mean more to him than leading the Mets to a title. Some exhibition games mean more than we expect.

Shabbat Shalom!