The taste of Shabbat – Vayakhel/Pekudei 5778

The taste of Shabbat – Vayakhel/Pekudei 5778

Rav Mordechai Elon

The coat of the Kohen Hagadol was coloured in sky blue, Techelet, from head to tail. This colour connects the Kohen to heaven and earth. On the fringe of the coat were hung bells and pomegranates, with a defined purpose:

…וְנִשְׁמַ֣ע ק֠וֹל֠וֹ בְּבֹא֨וֹ אֶל הַקֹּ֜דֶשׁ לִפְנֵ֧י הָ֛' וּבְצֵאת֖וֹ וְלֹ֥א יָמֽוּת.

Our parsha tells us of the building of the mishkan, using the root ע.ש.ה –  “to do”, (“and they did”, “make”, “the makers” etc.) over thirty times. The idea of creative work and “doing” belongs to the mishkan in Jewish thought. the basis for the 39 forbidden acts of creative work on Shabbat is the list of labours performed whilst building the mishkan. There is something fundamental to be learnt from this, but first we will look at the opening verse:

שֵׁ֣שֶׁת יָמִי֘ם תֵּֽעָשֶׂ֣ה מְלָאכָה֒ …

For six days work shall be done

We are used to the Torah telling us to work:

שֵׁ֤שֶׁת יָמִים֙ תַּֽעֲבֹ֔ד וְעָשִׂ֖יתָ כָּל מְלַאכְתֶּֽךָ.

you shall labour six days and do all your work

Davka in our parsha, with so much activity, the Torah uses a passive term . What does it mean “shall be done” – by itself in a parsha full of things done?  The torah commands us not just to rest but also to do, he blesses our endeavours   וּבֵֽרַכְךָ֙ ה֣' אֱלֹהֶ֔יךָ בְּכֹ֖ל אֲשֶׁ֥ר תַּעֲשֶֽׂה'[6]  the Lord god will bless all you do , we prepare the vessels and God provides the blessing, we work and He blesses us.

Why in this active parsha is the opening so passive?

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