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Parashas Vayakhel

Moses assembled the entire community of Israel and said to them, "These are the words which G-d commanded to do…come and do all that G-d has commanded. The Sanctuary"…(Exodus 35:1-11)

    At this great assembly, Moses conveyed G-d’s commandment for the building and the furnishing of the Sanctuary. The Midrash states that the building of the Sanctuary was an atonement for the sin of the Golden Calf, and that the donation of gold for the Sanctuary was to offset the gold contributed for the idol (Tanchuma).

    Although idolatry ranks as the most grievous transgression, and one who concedes to idolatry is considered to have rejected the entire Torah (Sifri Shelach 15:22), we nevertheless find that when Jews are united, G-d is willing to overlook even this grave sin (Bamidbar Rabbah 11:16).

    The reason that this unique property of unity and brotherhood is able to offset the most serious of sins may be because idolatry leads to divisiveness. In fact, the Talmud states that Jews never took idols seriously, and knew very well that they were of no substance. The only reason they gravitated toward idolatry was because it allowed them to formulate a religion that would cater to their desires (Sanhedrin 63b). Inasmuch as people’s desires may differ greatly and are often in conflict with one another, true togetherness and idolatry cannot co-exist. Thus, when Jews seek to be united, they are far less likely to condone idolatry.

    In implementing the building of the Sanctuary which was to atone for the worship of the Golden Calf, Moses sought to reinforce the resolve against idolatry. He therefore assembled the entire community to encourage togetherness in the work for the Sanctuary.

    Unity among Jews is without peer in eliciting the divine blessing.

    Excerpt from Living Each Week, by Rabbi Abraham J. Twerski, M.D

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