VAYAKHEL (35:1- 38:20)
In this week’s parshah, basically we return to the construction of the Mishkan. Moses calls the people together and reminds them about the Sabbath day of rest (he actually says if you work on the seventh day you “shall be put to death” but I’m just going to not get into that that week), and tells “everyone whose heart so moves him” (35:5) to bring gifts for the Sanctuary. And then it spends a while listing things people brought, and ways they served to use their gifts make the Sanctuary more holy.
Some people brought gold and silver, some acacia wood or “dolphin skins” (??) or lapis lazuli (I think I read somewhere that the exact translation of the gems and stones was uncertain but we can only be sure that they mean ‘some sort of precious gemstone’, but I can’t remember where). And then you have the people whose gifts were not ‘gifts’ in the physical sense, but rather abilities- and the section goes so far as to name the most able especially- Bezalel and Ohaliab- putting the gifts of “skill, ability and knowledge” (35:30-34) high in importance alongside the physical gifts of “crimson yarns, fine linen” and “goats hair” (35:23).
Its good to have a reminder that all gifts are valid. The world needs all types of people. There is value in all sorts of gifts- not just from the priests- but from the builders too (oh yes the construction foremen – we see you!).