Parashat Vayakhel- Show the Kids
The Torah in Parashat Vayakhel relates how Beneh Yisrael responded enthusiastically to Moshe’s call for donations to the Mishkan. The people generously donated all the materials that were needed for the Mishkan’s construction, which included precious metals, animal skins, wool, dyes, and much more. The Torah writes, “Every man and woman whose heart stirred them to bring [materials] for all the work that God commanded through Moshe to be done – Beneh Yisrael brought a donation to God” (35:29).
Many commentators have noted that this verse appears, at first glance, redundant. It seems unnecessary for the Torah to inform us that all the people who were inspired to bring donations indeed brought donations. Isn’t this obvious? What purpose was there for the Torah to make such a self-evident statement?
Many different interpretations have been offered to explain the meaning and intent of this verse. The Hid”a (Rav Haim Yosef David Azulai, 1724-1807) suggested that the Torah refers to the people’s faithful fulfillment of their pledges. As we unfortunately know all too well, people often feel inspired when they hear an appeal and make a generous pledge, but later have second thoughts and renege on their commitments. Many of our institutions are owed enormous sums of money in unpaid pledges. This is a most unfortunate reality, and is also very frightening, in light of our Sages’ stern warnings of the potential consequences, Heaven forbid, of failing to fulfill vows. The Torah here emphasizes that “every man and woman whose heart stirred them” – who felt inspired and made a commitment to donate – “brought a donation to God.” They not only pledged, but they also fulfilled those pledges in full.
Another approach is to explain the verse as referring to the children. The Torah tells us that the people who made donations toward the Mishkan “Hebi’u Beneh Yisrael” – they brought the children, the youngsters, to watch. They didn’t leave the children at home and tell them to wait there while they went out. Rather, they took the children along to get them involved and to have them personally witness what was happening.
The most important aspect of parenting is modeling desired behavior. We send our children to school for twelve years and speak to them about Misvot, but these will not be effective unless we set a personal example for our children to follow. It is thus crucially important to make sure that our children see us perform Misvot. If a mother is baking in the kitchen, for example, it is worthwhile for her to call her daughter to the kitchen when she separates Halla. Seeing the Misva performed has a much stronger impact that just hearing about it. If we want our children to embrace our Torah values and lifestyle, then we must show them how it’s done. Just as Beneh Yisrael brought their children to see them donate their precious possessions to the Mishkan, we, too, must make a proactive effort to involve our children in the Misvot that we do, setting for them an inspiring example that they will hopefully follow for the rest of their lives – and that they will set for their own children, and so on, for all generations.