The Parasha (story) of VaYak’hel tells us the story of the building of the Mishkan (Tabernacle – The portable temple used by the Israelites in the desert). However, this story is a repetition of Parashat Teruma that we read few weeks ago, why does the Torah repeat this story?
According to the Zohar, at first, as we’ve read on Teruma, the whole nation took part in the building of the Mishkan, however, after the Sin of the Golden Calf that was initiated by the Erev Rav – those Egyptian magicians that joined Israel as they left Egypt – Moses was ordered to build the Mishkan only by the Israelites: “From what you have, take an offering for the LORD…” (Exodus 35:5).
What is the message for us in this story?
The Power of a Community
This commentary shows us that this Parasha is about the importance of a community. Human beings are social creatures and it is not natural for them not to be part of a community. People without a community are more susceptible to depression and other modern ailments. However, it is not easy, today, to find a community that functions and is in a state of harmony. The story of building a Mishkan is a cover story for one of the most important tasks facing a human being, finding a community, building a new one or taking part in the one we are already part of.
Modern cities allow us to live relatively in comfort without having a real emotionally involved community around us. Many people, today, prefer to live without a community since the experience with a community can be, too often, very painful. Others suffer and complain about their community verbally or internally; however, they feel powerless making any changes in order to improve or fix the ailments of their society on one hand and on the other hand they are too scared leaving that painful environment and to be left on their own.
The Search for a Community
The traditional, old fashion, community made of few families living together in the same neighborhood is not the only option today. A working place can be many people’s community since this is where they spend most of their day and this is where they have the emotional and material support and comfort a community can offer. For others, a group of people that meet for charitable, social or other causes can give the sense of belonging and support a community has to offer.
Reading this Parasha in the Zohar offers us few rules we need to follow for a successful search for a community.
Some of them are the most important:
1. A serious obligation for noble values and ethics
2. An environment that will help us to achieve certainty in the power of what is good and ethical.
3. A system of checks and balances that will not allow any part of the community to abuse everyone’s’ mutual resources in expense of the others
4. A genuine motivation among the community members to step out of their comfort zone in order to fight for their values and vision and defend them.
The Threats and Risks
The Zohar on VaYak’hel opens with the story of King Saul and his war with Amalek in order to teach us the importance of fighting and destroying the power of Amalek that lies within us – the power of doubt (Amalek in Hebrew has the same numerical value as Doubt (Safek )ספק – 240). When we doubt that the light is stronger than darkness and that the essence of the Creation, to its smallest detail, is to bring us good, that everything is for the best, then we will be filled by fear and confusion. This kind of doubt (Amalek) is the worst enemy we can face ever. Having certainty in the Light and its endless powers is the key solution for every problem.
Usually, our emotional reactions are the reason for the troubles we experience, the mistakes we make and to the diseases we have. So how could we protect ourselves from this negative and destructive awareness?
“VaYaK’Hel” in Hebrew is from the word “congregation”, a community – KeHiLa, this is to show us the direction to choose our community and friends, those who will support and back us up as we share the same goal – attaching to the Light of The Creator. Rav Ashlag is teaching us that without such a community our chances to win the war against our inner dark side are slim to none.
However, being a part of a community does not insure us success.
Amalek represents also people in the community that are not obliged to the above-mentioned rules. In this case, teaches history, only a community that has a system of checks and balances is essential in order to prevent greed and hunger for power from taking over.
This is why the Talmud establishes the rules of Separation of Powers that is essential in every functioning democracy. The idea that nobody is above the law or above criticism, especially the people who have the access to power – money and control; this includes equal opportunities for the members of the community (without special rights given to people just because they’ve been born to the right family or married into it and not because of their talents and achievements).
Va’Yak’hel means, removing people with the wrong motives from power or from the community till the community is strong enough to educate them to commit themselves to the goal of transforming their selfish nature into a sharing one. This is essential for the success of a community.