Vayak’hel (Exodus 35:1 – 38:20), Shabbat Shekalim

Ah, the wonders of the Hebrew calendar. When we have a leap year, like now, we don’t fool around; we add a whole month. So instead of reading a double portion, Vayak’hel-Pekudei (214 verses), we only need to read Vayak’hel (122 verses). Plus 6 verses from a second scroll for Shabbat Shekalim.  Plus 6 verses from a second scroll for Shabbat Shekalim.  Shabbat Shekalim is the first of four shabbatot leading up to Passover (Pesach), on which we read an extra portion from a second scroll.  In this case, it’s Exodus 30:11-16, about the flat tax of a half-shekel paid for the work of the Tabernacle.  And we just read it last week, so if it looks like a rerun, it is.  There’s also a special haftarah, II Kings 12:1-17 for Ashkenazim (Sephardim and Chabad Chassidim start at II Kings 11:17), about the half-shekel collection for the Temple under the reign of Jehoash.

The main Torah portion is the execution of the design for building and furnishing the Tabernacle (mishkan). First, though, the people are commanded yet again to observe the Sabbath.  Because this command comes directly before the building of the Tabernacle, the rabbis use the types of work employed for that to define what activities are forbidden on the Sabbath.

Moses heard the Tabernacle plans in great (sometimes overwhelming) detail while communing with the Lord on Mount Sinai, as we read 3 weeks ago.  This week, therefore, there’s a lot of repetition concerning materials used, measurements, etc.  What is added is the emotional involvement of the people.  They donate silver, gold, copper, dyed wool, fine linen, goats’ hair. skins, spices, oil, and gemstones so generously that Moses actually has to tell them to stop.  They also generously donate time and skills.  There’s certainly a lot to do in addition to the measuring and building construction: metal working, carpentry, spinning, weaving, sewing, embroidery, carving and setting gemstones, preparing the sacred oil and incense.  The people probably experience both intense joy and anxiety.  After all, they have survived the golden calf incident and are still bound for the Promised Land, but they escaped total annihilation by the skin of their teeth.  Now they can demonstrate that they really can do the right thing.

Here are some memories I related in 2014: “I’m not into interior decorating for its own sake (OK, stop laughing out there!).  Art work I got several years ago has yet to be hung.  Whether they are beautiful or not, I am most affected by furnishings that evoke memories. I remember not my father’s easy chair per se, but snuggling next to him in it as a child, while we watched ‘Rawhide’ or ‘Bilko’.  I remember Mama’s silverware because I counted it after dinner every Shabbos (checking for loss, not theft!), one of my admittedly too-few chores.  The wooden rocking chair upstairs is the one in which I nursed my children, that my mother used for us, and that her mother used for her and her brothers.  And when I look at the silver Chanukah menorah that my mother gave us for our 25th anniversary, I remember her saying that she wanted it to be something ‘to remember her by.’  As if we could ever forget!”

Next week, we finish the Tabernacle, the priests’ vestments, and the book of Exodus.

Shabbat shalom,


A little boy in church for the first time watched as the ushers passed around the offering plates. When they came near his pew, the boy said loudly, “Don’t pay for me, Daddy, I’m under five.”

* * * * *

Church Bulletin Bloopers

Please place your donation in the envelope along with the deceased person you want remembered.

The Associate Pastor unveiled the church’s new fundraising campaign slogan last Sunday: “I Upped My Pledge–Up Yours”

Ladies, don’t forget the rummage sale. It’s a chance to get rid of those things not worth keeping around the house. Bring your husbands.

* * * * *

The Sunday School teacher was just finishing a lesson on honesty. “Do you know where children go if they don’t put their money in the collection plate?” the teacher asked.

“Yes ma’am,” a boy blurted out. “They go to the movies.”


tph interior decorating


Construction Quotes

It is not the beauty of a building you should look at; it’s the construction of the foundation that will stand the test of time. David Allan Coe

The road to success is always under construction. Lily Tomlin (also Arnold Palmer)

When I say artist I mean the man who is building things – creating molding the earth – whether it be the plains of the west – or the iron ore of Penn. It’s all a big game of construction – some with a brush – some with a shovel – some choose a pen. Jackson Pollock

Reinforced concrete buildings are by nature skeletal buildings. No noodles nor armoured turrets. A construction of girders that carry the weight, and walls that carry no weight. That is to say, buildings consisting of skin and bones. Ludwig Mies van der Rohe

tph flat tax


Best Sewing & Knitting Jokes

  • My friend composes songs about sewing machines. He’s a Singer-songwriter.
  • My wife’s sewing machine isn’t working properly. Not sure what’s wrong with it though, it just seams a little off.
  • Let me sew and no one gets hurt.
  • Sewing is cheaper than therapy.
  • Of course I talk to myself when I sew. Sometimes I need expert advice.
  • I only quilt on days that end in “y”.
  • Blessed are the children of quilters. They shall inherit the quilts.
  • I’m only hugging you to see if that fabric is wool or polyester.
  • Sewing doesn’t solve all the problems in the world. Sometimes you need to quilt as well.
  • I’ve got scraps. They’re multiplying.






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