1/2 Mar : Vayakhel : Shabbat comes in 5:25 pm, ends 6:29 pm
Near the beginning of this week’s reading, we learn that Moses asked the people to donate the materials needed to make the Mishkan. The men and women responded generously, so much so that the Torah says: The artisans who were engaged in the tasks of the sanctuary came . . . and said to Moses, “The people are bringing more than is needed for the tasks entailed in the work that the Lord has commanded to be done.” Moses thereupon had this proclamation made throughout the camp – let no man or woman make further effort toward gifts for the sanctuary.
This was the first – and very possibly the last – time in the history of Jewish fundraising that people were told to stop donating. However, as Moses’ accounting shows, all the donations were used for their intended purpose, with nothing left over for operating expenses or an endowment fund.
According to the Midrash Tanhuma, it took only two days to collect all of the materials needed for the Mishkan. I imagine there must have been hundreds, even thousands, of people who had things they sincerely wanted to contribute to the project, but they waited – just a little bit. We never know how much time we have. We go around assuming we can take care of this or that task tomorrow or next week, and quite often this is fine. Our Parasha reminds us that sometimes putting it off for even a day or two means you will be too late.
Written by Rabbi Paul Arberman