Torah study text for Shabbat Vayekhel-Pekudei, March 17, 2012

For those who are interested, here’s the Torah study text we studied this past Shabbat.

Kedushat Levi on parashat Pekudei

“These are the things (דברים) which God commanded that you should do: six days you shall do [work], etc…” (Exodus 35:1-2.)

The sages interpreted this (in the Talmud, tractate Shabbat) to refer to the 39 forms of labor. As it is said, “these [are the things]” — this hints at externals [external forms of labor rather than internal ones], as the Ari (of blessed memory) noted in his commentary on the verse (Lamentations 1:16) “For these things I weep, etc,” arguing that we need to heal them by means of work. When we say “to do,” [as in: “these are the things which God commanded that you should do,”] we’re speaking in terms of healing. [So: what Torah is really saying is, these are the  things which God commanded we should repair / heal.]  And that’s in secular/profane/workday time; but on Shabbat one doesn’t do the work of clarifying externals, and therefore doing work is forbidden.

It is said with regard to Shabbat “God commanded to do,” and with regard to the [building of the] mishkan it is written “which God commanded, saying.” The Tur raises a question [about why one verse uses language of “doing” and the other verse uses the word “saying”],  and notes that although creating the mishkan involved the mitzvot of making/doing, by means of the the work of the mishkan they repaired the world of speech. That’s what Torah means when it says “which God had commanded, saying.” [Kedushat Levi is saying here that the reason Torah notes “saying” is that God’s commandment to build the mishkan was really a commandment to create a repair, a healing, in the world of our speech.]

And on Shabbat, when they weren’t doing work, only (engaging in) mitzvot of speech, such as Torah and prayer — for this is the essence of Torah and prayer — on Shabbat, by means of this, they repair the world of work. And this is “Which God commanded them to do,” as it is said, repairing the world of making/doing.

Questions for reflection:

What is Kedushat Levi saying about external work vs. internal work? Which one do we do during the week, and which on Shabbat?

How do you like his idea that when we say “doing,” we’re really talking about healing?

What do you make of the idea that in building the mishkan, we were repairing the world of our speech?

How about the idea that through Torah and prayer on Shabbat, we repair our workweek?


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