Vayakhel - A Second Chance
By Rabbi Aron Tendler
At the end of last week's Parsha, Moshe returned to the Bnai Yisroel with
the second set of Luchos. It was Yom Kippur, 2449 and the start of a new
relationship with both Moshe and Hashem. This relationship was
fundamentally different from what it had been prior to the Golden Calf. In
the same manner that spousal intimacy and trust is irreparably damaged
through the betrayal of adultery; so too, the relationship between Hashem
and the nation had been irreversibly altered. Never again could we claim
the innocence of pure fidelity and unbroken trust. Therefore; Moshe had to
build a new and more honest relationship between the nation and Hashem with
adjusted, but realistic, expectations.
The notion of a "second chance" in a relationship should not deny the
fundamental changes that occur when trust is shattered. The "second chance"
provides a second opportunity to develop a new, but changed, relationship
that takes into account the realities of revealed weaknesses and adjusted
expectations. The second Luchos were the Bnai Yisroel's second chance for
building a lasting, but changed, relationship with G-d. This changed
relationship demanded that every nuance of our service toward Hashem be
reviewed with concern for the effect that this change would have on the
relationship. Therefore; every detail of the Mishkan's construction had to
be revisited in the two Parshiot following the Golden Calf.
It is important and comforting to note that the inherent and expected
changes in the relationship, due to the broken trust, did not have any
external manifestation, and that every detail was the same before and after
the incident of the Golden Calf.
I expect that someone is going to ask, "But, wasn't the commandment to
build the Mishkan first given, chronologically speaking, after the Golden
Calf!? So, of course there wouldn't be any changes!" The answer is, yes.
The Mishkan was a response to the fundamental changes that resulted due to
the Golden Calf. However; the Torah did not have to state the details
twice, once would have been sufficient. The fact that the Torah does repeat
itself, teaches us that the altered nature of a "second chance" should be
internal and private, not external and public. Sensitivity and respect
demands that "dirty laundry" remain private even after its been cleaned!
The Mishkan was a response to the Golden Calf, but Hashem recorded for all
time that the inherent changes were to remain "private family business". As
far as anyone else could see, His forgiveness was absolute and unqualified.
Similarly, Moshe did not wear his veil when addressing the people as
Hashem's representative. At those times, all could gaze upon the radiant
face of Moshe and feel the intimacy of Hashem's presence. However; in
private, as an individual member of the nation, Moshe wore a veil as a
reminder of the irrevocable changes that had occurred in the Bnai Yisroel's
relationship with Hashem and himself.
Copyright © 1998 by Rabbi Aron Tendler
and Project Genesis, Inc.
The author is Rabbi of Shaarey Zedek Congregation,
Valley Village, CA.