1. The name of the Torah reading of the coming Shabbos, Vayakhel1 means “and he (Moshe) assembled.” Therefore, it is particularly appropriate that a farbrengen be held at this time. This is particularly true, in view of the interpretation of the Midrash that Moshe’s call to gather the Jewish people was not limited to that occasion alone. Rather, he ordained that from then on, Jews should come together on Shabbos2 and other special occasions.3

The gathering of the Jewish people itself is a matter of substance. The Alter Rebbe writes in Tanya that when ten Jews gather together, even when they aren’t studying Torah, the Shechinah (G‑d’s Divine Presence) rests upon them to such a powerful degree that an angel standing in their presence would be consumed. Also, the value of the gathering of the Jewish people can be seen from the outcome. At that time the joining together of all the Jews brought to the surface each individual’s generosity and openness of the heart. They all gave gold, silver, copper, etc., and worked together to build the sanctuary.4 There, the sacrifices, whose very name “korban,”5 alludes to drawing close to G‑d, were offered. These sacrifices in turn brought about a revelation of G‑dliness which was felt even in the physical world.

And so may it be for us. May we witness the building of the third Bais HaMikdash, and bring sacrifices there. In the merit of our service now, while still in Exile, may we greet Mashiach, who will build the Bais HaMikdash and gather the exiles, speedily in our days.

2. This Shabbos follows the holiday of Purim. Shabbos enhances the holiday as it does to all the aspects of the preceding week, contributing pleasure to the service of G‑d carried out therein.

Purim’s central theme is transformation: the radical turn-about in which Haman’s decree was annulled and, rather than face extinction as a people, “the Jews had light and happiness, joy and honor.” What brought about this transformation? — Mordechai’s fulfillment of Esther’s request that he “gather together all the Jews.”

Likewise, in our day assemblies were recently held in many places in honor of the holiday. Those gatherings will certainly leave a lasting effect on the days that will follow, in this month of Adar, and in all the months to come even until next Purim when we will once again celebrate the holiday with renewed light. May these gatherings motivate us to add to our study of Torah and fulfillment of Mitzvos and may we make that increase soon. This, in turn, will hasten the fulfillment of G‑d’s promise to redeem the Jewish people.6 Then G‑d will lead each Jew one by one7 to the true and complete redemption.8

3. In addition to all the great revelations which will occur in the time of the third Bais HaMikdash, the sanctuary constructed by Moshe will again be revealed and will be incorporated into that new building. Despite the power and prominence of the new manifestations of G‑dliness, Moses’ sanctuary will still be necessary. That sanctuary, the construction of which is described in this week’s portion, was made from the gifts of the entire Jewish community: men, women, and children.9

From this prophecy, we can derive a lesson which is applicable not only in Messianic times, but in ours, as well.10 We see that the gifts of the children of Moshe’s time will become an eternal part of the Bais HaMikdash. From that, we can appreciate the power of a child’s contribution in Torah and Mitzvos. This realization should prompt us to further activity in Mivtza Chinuch, the campaign for Torah education.

Likewise, we should realize that education should not only be limited to the young. Adults also have a need for Chinuch. This is particularly true, in light of the approaching Passover holiday, which contains so many laws and customs.

From there we should proceed to Mivtza Torah — the campaign to study Torah to the fullest extent of our capacities, and then to Mivtza Tefillin — as the Talmud says — “the entire Torah has been compared to Tefillin.” And then to Mivtza Mezuzah which protects us while at home and outside — and to Mivtza Tzedakah — which in the Talmud’s words “brings about the redemption.” (And which is also tied to Passover, the. holiday of redemption when special Tzedakah, “Maos Chitim,” is always given to poor people to enable them to buy Matzah).11 Then to Mivtza Bais Maleh Seforim — the campaign to insure that a Jew’s house be filled with holy books which will help learn Torah, do Mitzvos, and educate his children.

And then also to the three Mivtzoim which are connected with women, (particularly relevant now in Parshas Vayakhel which relates how their generosity towards building the sanctuary exceeded that of the men12 ) Mivtza Nairos Shabbos Kodesh, Mivtza Kashrus, and Mivtza Taharas Hamishpachah.13

Progress in the area of education will bring about our redemption from Exile. “With our youth and elders together” (without a generation gap14 separating them) we will leave exile and greet Mashiach15 and go with him to Israel, make the festival pilgrimages and partake, even during this coming Pesach, of the Pascal sacrifices.

4. This Shabbos we also read Parshas Parah (the portion dealing with the Red Heifer).16 Similar to the idea described above concerning the sanctuary built by Moshe, applies in the case of the Red Heifer. Tradition holds that throughout Jewish history ten Red Heifers will be sacrificed. Nine have already been offered. The tenth will be offered in Messianic times. In that time, both the Red Heifer and the priests who will bring the Red Heifer will be in the most elevated state possible (as understood from the principle that then mitzvos will be carried out according to Your (G‑d’s) desire), but nevertheless ashes from the Red Heifer made by Moshe will be used. [Translator’s note: A Red Heifer cannot be sacrificed without the ashes from a previous one]. When Moses offered the Red Heifer, he set aside some of its ashes “to be kept” for future generations. The other eight Red Heifers were offered using those ashes and in Messianic times they will be revealed again and used in the sacrificing of the tenth Heifer.17

The Alter Rebbe explained that this process of sacrifice represented a general principle in Torah behavior. He based that explanation on its’ description as “Chukas HaTorah” which he translated as “the rule of the Torah” parallel to the translation of (Jeremiah 33:25) “Chukas Shamayim V’eretz” — “the rule of heavens and earth.”

Two general movements were inherent in the process of bringing the Red Heifer: elevation from below to above — the Heifer was consumed in the flames and rose heavenward; lowering from above to below — “living waters”18 were brought into a vessel (an object with-a fixed. limit and capacity). In personal terms, these movements correspond to an individual’s arousal to serve G‑d and the drawing down of G‑dliness into the world. .

These two movements characterize our Torah service — in Exile, before Exile began, and even after Exile — in Messianic times. Then we will use the-ashes of Moses’ Red Heifer. He, the first redeemer, will be joined with the final redeemer.19 And then, just as in Moses’ times the entire Jewish people came together to build the sanctuary, so too may we in the Rambam’s words “through one good thought, word, or action, bring salvation to ourselves ...and to the entire world” and hasten the coming of Mashiach speedily in our days.