Parashah Vayyekhel 2019 (And he assembled) Exodus 35 – 38:20

Moses has come down from Mt. Sinai with the second set of tablets, and he assembles the people to ask for them to voluntarily give the materials needed for the construction of the Tabernacle. The people give all that is required, and so much so that even though Moses asked them to contribute what they would be willing to give, he had to command them to stop giving.

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This parashah tells us that Bezalel (Judah) and Oholiab (Dan) were the main leaders of the people constructing the Tabernacle and making all the accouterments for the service, therein. The entire reading is a repetition, in some ways, of Chapter 25 where God explains the detailed requirements of the tabernacle, to include the menorahs, the articles used for the sacrifice, the size and color of the tent skins, etc.

Some may ask how these slaves, being sent out of Egypt in a single night, had all these jewels, expensive skins, gemstones, gold, silver, etc.?  The answer is that when they left Egypt, God commanded Moses to have them go to the Egyptians and ask for these items (Exodus 12:35-36), which they did. The Egyptians were so glad to see them go they gave anything and everything the Jews asked for.

Normally, when one group conquers another group in battle, the winners despoil the losers. We see this all the time throughout the books of Kings and Chronicles. So, then, this taking of the valuables of the Egyptians as the Jews left, having conquered Egypt (well, actually we know that God conquered Egypt) is a culturally correct activity. But they didn’t take the items- they asked for them! Without a doubt, that is different than despoiling or (as some versions state) stripping them of their valuables.

I see something different at work here in God having the Jews ask for and receive these valuables. I see more than just a cultural activity- I see providence. As far back as Exodus 3:19-22, even before Moses went to Egypt, God knew what the people would need to make the tabernacle, and knowing that they had nothing of their own he commanded that they take spoil from the Egyptians. All through Moses’ debate with Pharaoh, he never once said that when they left they would take anything other than their wives, children, and cattle. Yet, when the time came to leave, the people took the last remnants of anything valuable the Egyptians had left.

God knows what we will need before we even know we will be needing it. That’s no surprise, and I am sure when you look back you can see God’s work in your life which led you to where you are today. And what is happening right now- at this very moment- may be something God is doing in your life that you will not realize he is doing until after it is done.

The lesson I am taking away from this parashah today is that I will probably never know what God is doing in my life at the moment he is doing it. Just as the Jewish slaves were thinking they would be set free, and happy for that, little did they know as the plagues started that when they left they would be richly gifted with all sorts of precious jewels and other materials. Neither can I know, even as I write this, what effect this message will have on someone or on myself down the road.

So what should we do? We should just keep walking and trust in God that so long as we walk the path he has given us he will direct our feet to his salvation. And, if I may, just to make sure we are all on the same page, walking the path God gives us means to obey God’s commandments. Specifically, the ones in the Torah.

To finish, let me share with you that when I pray, I don’t thank God only for what he has done for me throughout my life, but also for what he has planned for me. Whether his plans are blessings, or more fire to go through, I know that he sees where I will be and he is working to get me there. And for that, I am VERY thankful!

Thank you, too, for being here and please SUBSCRIBE in the right-hand margin. Also, use the link above to subscribe to my YouTube channel. Not that I do this for money, but if I get enough YouTube subscribers they will put advertising on my channel and I will receive some income, which I can use to send my books to people in third world countries who have asked for them, as I have been doing when I can afford to.

This being Friday I wish you Shabbat Shalom and until next time: L’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!

Do you purr for God?

I have two cats, Shadow and Bowtie. Both males, both fixed (why do we say they are “fixed” when what we did is to make sure it doesn’t work anymore?), and both with different personalities. Shadow is an nudge, always crawling on the newspaper when we are reading it, always moaning at 0330 in the morning (it’s a miracle he is still alive!),  and Bowtie is the one who is the “good son”.

The other day I was petting Shadow and he started to purr. I did the same with Bowtie later in the day, and realized how often I do this. Yes, obviously they have me well trained, but here’s the interesting part: when I pet them and do good things for them, their purr tells me they appreciate what I am doing for them, and I start to purr. Not audibly, but in my heart. I like hearing them tell me how much they like what I do for them.

Then it struck me- God must also feel good when we tell and show Him how much we appreciate what He does for us.

I am not saying that God sees us as pets, but what He does for us is wonderful, and when we show that appreciation I just have to believe that he feels as good as I do, if not better, then when I hear Bowtie or Shadow purring as I do good things to them.

We don’t sacrifice lambs or bulls to show God our appreciation anymore because the Temple is gone, but we can sacrifice in other ways to show how thankful we are. We can sacrifice our time to help others through volunteering; we can sacrifice our income through charitable contributions to those organizations we know are really doing God’s work (so many charities seem to be doing good when you see their TV ads, but you need to be as wise as the Sages of old when giving to charities- make sure it is legit); we can also sacrifice our work time to be with family more often.

Yeshua told us that whatever we do to our brothers, we do to Him. And I don’t think He meant just fellow Believers; I think Yeshua and God want us to be kind and compassionate to anyone and everyone, whether they are a Believer or not.

So, nu? Do you purr for God? Do you show Him how much you appreciate all He has done, is doing, and has planned to do for you? It is all for your good, trust Him, and even when He throws you into the fire, it is to designed to make you (come out) more purified than before.

I challenge you all to think of one way you can “purr for God” today. Do something that you know will please the Lord- it doesn’t have to be big, it just has to be honest and heartfelt and thankful. God loves a cheerful giver, and He is pleased when we do what is right, so go out there and purr loud and strong for God today.