D’var Torah: Parashat Vayakhel

Rabbi James Stone Goodman


On the heels of the molten beast (make us a god, we said last week, because that man who led us — we don’t know what became of him). Did we want a god or did we want a leader? What kind of leader? A master of ceremonies leader or someone to sit over coffee with, at a diner, in Overland. You know what kind of leader.

We also need an artist, someone to make the dream concrete, someone to fashion the notion floating in the air (G*d showed it to us, like a hologram, floating the air above our heads) but who will build it? Betzalel, the artist, whose name means in the shadow of G*d. That kind of artist.

We have all we need: the artist, the design, the Designer, the master of ceremonies, the one who sits with us, however long it takes, and listens. And we make that molten beast.

We are, of course, healed by the very things through which we were corrupted. We use the same words, we gathered together in confusion, frustration, impatience, now the one who sits with us and listens gathers us together to review the plan for living: it starts with Shabbes. Vayakhel Moshe, say it aloud, “Va-yak-hel Mo-she” give every syllable a breath and the words will settle deeper. That man? He gathered us together and he brought what he always brings: the healing.

On the heels of the molten beast, he gathered together the entire community. We had gathered against his brother Aaron: make us a god who will go before us, we said to Aaron, because your brother who is our heart — we do not know what happened to him. Do not say those words too slowly because they will chill you to the bone with the fear they were uttered.


We will return to the building; everything we had been directed to do, get back to the work. The materials, those colors! the clothes! where do you get such great clothes? Bring back the artist, bring back the healing, we will build it out of the free offerings of our hearts.

The building; it will be a symbol of our healing from the slip with the molten beast, a sign of deep forgiveness. The healing will come through the artist, who built it.

And that man who brought us out?

He’s back.

Rabbi James Stone Goodman serves Congregation Neve Shalom.