Vayakhel opens in Exodus 35:1 with Moses assembling the people of Israel together to tell Israel what HaShem had told him to tell them. He begins by impressing them with the sanctity of Shabbat. This concept has, sadly, been lost by those of us who claim to be followers of the G-d of Israel. But, that is a matter for another time and another place.
Then, Moses allows the children of Israel to give the L-rd a contribution. He told them that everyone whose heart motivates them should bring precious minerals and stones, fine cloths, oil, incense and more. Basically, he told them to bring to G-d the finest that they could gather; but he told only those whose heart stirred them to respond. In chapter 35, verse 21, we find the response and a definition of significance. I have shared this in churches across America as I have received the offering on behalf of the church.
"Everyone whose heart stirred him and everyone whose spirit moved him came and brought the L-rd's contribution for the work of the tent of meeting and for all its service and for the holy garments." Notice that the contribution was for three specific purposes. First, it was for the Tent of Meeting; that is, today, the facility in which your congregation meets. Whether it is a big fancy church building or a hotel ballroom or even a living room; it is the place of meeting and the gifts of those who attend should pay for it. Secondly, the contribution was for all of the service. This is more than just what happens inside the walls of the building where you meet. It is everything t hat your congregation does to impact the world for the Kingdom of G-d. Finally, the third part of the offering was for the holy garments. These are the special clothing worn by those whom the L-rd had placed in authority. Both the priests and the Levites wore special clothing of office. In like manner, the contributions given by your congregation should pay those whom the
L-rd has placed in positions of authority in your congregation. In too many churches I have visited and ministered in, the pastor and the staff live well below the norm of the members. In Hebrew, we call this ashanda which means a scandalous shame!
The remainder of this portion deals with the construction of the Tabernacle and all of its tools and parts. Each one was specifically designed by G-d, Who equipped certain craftsmen to build everything exactly as G-d instructed. This too is our obligation, to do things G-d's way only!
Everything connected to the Tabernacle, and later to the Temple alludes to the mystery of God's unity (which is the theme of the revelation on Mount Sinai) as well as to the reconciliation of man with G-d. The Aramaic word for this process of bringing unity is "tikkun" which also means "warfare." This is something to consider when reading such passages in the New Testament as Ephesians chapter 6. The "weapons of war" that Paul writes of are not those of a soldier (as is usually depicted) but those of a Priest. We are to be the warriors that fight to bring reconciliation of the world to G-d.
The entire book of Exodus depicts this path. It began with Israel in Egypt, a place of confinement and of slavery, without the ability to worship and to live as unto G-d. Now, as the book draws to a close, we see the nation coming together to build the place where the very Presence of the Holy One would dwell in their midst.