Vayakhel: What they brought

…This is what the Lord has commanded: take from among you gifts to the Lord: everyone whose heart so moves him shall bring them – gifts for the Lord… (Shemot 35:4-5).
And let all among you who are skilled come and make all that the Lord has commanded… (Shemot 35:10).

They brought their gifts:
lustrous gold, silver, bronze,
glowing gems, fine-spun cloth,
rainbow yarns and supple skins,
oils and wood and fragrant spices.

They brought their talents –
able minds, dextrous hands
and eyes that cherished beauty:
weavers, smiths and carpenters,
all faithful to their craft.

The congregation answered:
willing throngs assembled
yearning now to serve their God –
and with their precious offerings
they brought their ardent hearts.

The phrase “whose heart so moves him shall bring them,” should literally be translated “whose heart so moves him shall bring it.” The Sefat Emet taught that this phrase means that the people did not only bring material gifts but also brought their willing hearts.

In subsequent verses (Shemot 35:20-29) we read the details of the outpouring of the people’s generosity. In verse 21, the Or Yesharim* makes a play on the words, “Vayavo’u kol ish asher nesa’o libo…oto heviyu et terumat HaShem…And they came, everyone whose heart stirred him…that they brought as an offering to God.” He comments, “That they brought – (means) the heart. It is not enough to contribute to the Mishkan, but the contribution should be with a whole heart.”

*Rabbi Moshe Chaim Kleinman authored Or Yesharim, which was published in Pietrokov in 1924. I can find few biographical details except that he seems to have come from Brisk and the book is a collection of the wisdom of four hassidic luminaries: R’ Mordechai of Leykovitch, R’ Noah of Leykovitch, R’ Moshe of Kobrin and R’ Avraham of Slonim.


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