Parshios Vayakhel & Pekudei
Adding Sizzle To The Steak
"You shall not kindle fire in any of your dwellings on the Sabbath day"(35:3)
Many of the commentaries discuss why the Torah singles out the
kindling of fire from all the other forms of prohibited Shabbos labor.
Rav Sadya Gaon explains that the emphasis should be placed on the latter
portion of the verse, "bechol moshvosaichem" - "in all of your dwellings".
The Torah is teaching us that the prohibition of kindling fire applies to
all of the places where Bnei Yisroel live. The need for this emphasis,
explains Rav Sadya Gaon, is to prevent a person from erring by applying the
prohibition only to the time period during which Bnei Yisroel subsisted on
the manna. What rationale could cause a person to arrive at such an
One possible solution that could be advanced is that since the manna did not
require preparation, one may have thought that only under similar
circumstances, when fire was not used, would kindling be restricted.
However, perhaps when fire was used for food preparation, kindling would be
permitted. The flaw in this approach is that Bnei Yisroel did use fire in
the preparation of the manna, as the verse attests: "asher tofu eifu v'es
asher tevashlu basheilu" - "bake that which you wish to bake and cook that
which you wish to cook". Clearly, the preparation of the manna included
cooking and baking, yet these activities were still prohibited on Shabbos.
To begin addressing the aforementioned difficulty we must first understand
why Bnei Yisroel would cook and bake the manna if it provided every flavor
imaginable, even in its raw state. A major factor in culinary palatability
is the presentation and appearance of the food. Although the manna offered
every desired taste, its appearance never changed. To enhance its visual
appeal Bnei Yisroel resorted to cooking and baking the manna.
Rav Sadya Gaon is explaining that one may have thought that since such use
of fire is not essential in the food preparation process, it falls under the
jurisdiction of the Torah's Shabbos prohibition. When, however, fire would
be necessary to make the food edible, the Torah would allow its Shabbos use.
Therefore, the Torah stresses that under all circumstances the kindling of
fire is prohibited "in all your dwellings".
1.See Ramban 35:3, Shabbos 70a
4.See Yoma 75b
Feet On The Ground
"He filled him with G-dly spirit, with wisdom, understanding, and
The Mishna in Pirkei Avos states "im ayn bina ayn da'as, im ayn
da'as ayn bina" - "if there is no understanding there is no knowledge, if
there is no knowledge there is no understanding". The Maharal cites the
explanation of the Rivash who defines "da'as" as basic conceptual
understanding, an example of which would be that the sum of a whole is
greater than its parts. "Bina" is the second level of understanding which is
derived through the application of "da'as".
Based upon the verse describing Betzalel's attributes, "Hashem filled him
with G-dly spirit, with wisdom (chochmah), understanding (tevunah) and
knowledge (da'as)", the Maharal questions the Rivash's interpretation. The
Torah lauds Betzalel's da'as as one of his qualifications for constructing
the Mishkan. If da'as is only the awareness of the most rudimentary
concepts, why then, asks the Maharal, does the Torah deem it complimentary
to attribute Betzalel with it?
It is common to find a person who possesses genius-level talents in one
particular field, yet has no inkling of the most basic rudimentary
procedures. This situation is especially problematic with individuals who
delve into subjects which are esoteric or mystical by nature; they begin to
lose touch with reality. Those procedures which are elementary to the
average person are foreign to this individual. The "mystic" loses the
ability to perform daily activities.
Although Betzalel was a Kabalist of the highest order, as attested to by the
Talmud which states that with his knowledge, Betzalel had the capacity to
recreate the heavens and the earth, the Torah testifies that he did not
lose touch with reality; he still possessed "da'as". While this might not
appear to be an accolade for the average person, for the individual whose
mind is preoccupied with ideas and thoughts which remove him from this
world, possessing da'as is a great accomplishment. True wisdom must be
accompanied by a strong sense of reality. If the wisdom causes the
individual to lose this sense of reality, then the wisdom itself is lacking.
2.Derech Chaim p.155