Vayak’heil-P’kudei-- Exodus 35:1-40:38
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Questions for Younger Children
• Why does Moshe have to repeat the commandment to keep Shabbat? Isn’t it enough to tell B’nei Yisrael one time in the Ten Commandments?
• Why do you think God selected one person to be in charge of all the craft and building projects?
• What kinds of materials were used to build the Tabernacle? Do you think they are hard to find in the desert?

Questions for Older Children
• What are the announcements that Moshe makes when he gathers together all the Israelites? Why do you think he begins with keeping Shabbat and ends with announcing Bezalel will head the project?
• How does God involve all the people in the building of the Tabernacle? Do you think it was a good idea to have everyone contribute?
• Why do you think Moshe emphasizes that the contributions are free will offerings?

Questions for Teens and Adults
• Does this parasha feel repetitious? Rhetorical question—this is a repeat of directions in Parashat T’rumah. The real question is how this section in Vayak’heil differs from T’rumah and why it is repeated. What do you think?
• The opening word of the parasha is  vayak’heil-he convened. The verb is from the root k-h-l which is also the root of kehila, community. What do you think is the significance of bringing the community together for a series of announcements?
• Have you ever helped fundraise? How difficult is it to persuade people to give money or goods? How successful is the drive for goods to finish the Tabernacle?
• Why do you think B’nei Yisrael were so generous in their donations?
• Can you discern a logic in the order Bezalel made the items?
• Do you think building this elaborate Tabernacle in the desert was a good use of resources and time? Why? Why not?

Bonus pre-Pesah question:  See if you can find a clue in the account of the exodus from Egypt that explains how former slaves would have the necessary stuff to donate to the building of the Tabernacle.

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Create a meal of doubles

With a double portion of Torah readings this week, comes an opportunitiy to double up on food. 

  • Serve two desserts or two salads
  • Double up on vegetables.  In keeping with the theme of k'ruv, serve broccoli and cauliflower together topped with almonds and cashews.
  • Discuss why there are two hallot, two nerot Shabbat (Shabbat candles).
  • This week's double parasha doubles up on many of the details repeated in last week's parasha, Ki Tissa.  Why?


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Building continues! Even so, Moshe’s first reminder in this double parasha is that the work week is six days and the seventh day is a holy day. It doesn’t matter that the work of building the Tabernacle is also holy—Shabbat comes first. Each instruction for construction is carried out to the letter with the Israelites offering their gold, silver, and brass willingly along with all the other needed materials. Once the materials are collected, Moshe announces that Bezalel will oversee the building project. God filled Bezalel with God’s spirit in wisdom and understanding and in knowledge and in all manner of workmanship. Bezalel’s other mission is to impart his knowledge to others. The following chapters detail what Bezalel and his workmen accomplished.

Finally, the Tabernacle is set up, anointed, and the priests are installed. Now that everything has been done according to God’s instructions, God’s Presence appears as a cloud covering the Tent of Meeting. Only when the cloud lifted, could the Israelites travel onwards.

Find the food connection…

וַיַּעֲשׂוּ כָל-חֲכַם-לֵב בְּעֹשֵׂי הַמְּלָאכָה, אֶת-הַמִּשְׁכָּן--עֶשֶׂר יְרִיעֹת: שֵׁשׁ מָשְׁזָר, וּתְכֵלֶת וְאַרְגָּמָן וְתוֹלַעַת שָׁנִי--כְּרֻבִים מַעֲשֵׂה חֹשֵׁב, עָשָׂה אֹתָם

And every wise hearted man among them that did the work of the tabernacle made ten curtains of fine twined linen, and blue, and purple and scarlet; into these they worked a design of cherubim.

--Ex. 36:8

The Hebrew word for cherubim is k’ruvim which made me think of k’ruv or cabbage. Using two members of the cabbage family in the recipe suggests k’ruvim.

Food for Thought

This parasha is about the Tabernacle in the desert and not the Temple built by Solomon, but my thoughts drifted to the construction of the Temple as I reread Vayak’heil-P'kudei. Both the Temple and Tabernacle were unique building projects with very specific guidelines.

On one of my trips to Israel, my cousin-the-former-tour-guide told me I had to see a new museum in the Jewish Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem. A museum! History!—I was up and ready to go early the next morning. We headed to a small museum called The Museum of the Temple Implements ( where artisans had fashioned all the tools needed for the Temple according to the directions given to Shlomo (Solomon). It was eerie to see models of what had only been a set of directions in my mind. They had shape and form. It didn’t take long, though, for me to begin to think about the political implications—everything is ready to go for the third temple except that the space is currently occupied. Do we want a Third Temple? This is some genuine food for thought.


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A Dash of Hebrew
Is the Hebrew root for Cherub and cabbage the same? In Hebrew the words are spelled exactly the same (k’ruv). What do your Shabbat guests think? For a discussion online, see

A Dash of Artistic Reconstruction
To see images of the vessels described in this parasha, you can view the website:

A Dash of Name Origin
Bezalel’s genealogy is listed in Vayak’heil, Exodus 35: 30. He is the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah. What do you know about the tribe of Judah that makes it noteworthy to mention? Bezalel’s name means “in the shadow of God.” Can your guests create a midrash based on Bezalel's name and genealogy?

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Crispy Cabbage Salad with Tahini Dressing
Pareve and gluten free--serves 6 to 8                            rsz 10 vayakheil cabbage salad copy copy

Ingredients for salad

  • 3 cups coarsley shredded cabbage
  • 1 julienned green pepper
  • 1 carrot, shredded
  • 4 baby bok choy cut on the diagonal
  • Sprouts (optional)
  • Sesame seeds
  • 1 bunch of green onions, cut on the diagonal, white and green part

Ingredients for Dressing

  • 3 oz. tofu
  • 1/3 cup tahini
  • 1 Tblsp. sesame oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 Tblsp. rice vinegar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 2 Tblsp. honey
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly grated ginger
  • pinch of cayenne pepper



  1. Mix cabbage, green pepper, carrot, and baby bok choy in a large salad bowl.
  2. Mix salad dressing ingredients together in food processor until smooth.
  3. Dress salad and top with sprouts, sprinkle with sesame seeds and green onions.

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