Parshat Hashavua

Parshat Vayakhel

Devar Torah – 02/26/2022

Discipline is a Refining Fire

Discipline is the refining fire by which talent becomes ability. We must all suffer one of two things: the pain of discipline or the pain of regret or disappointment.

The Words Zahav Tahor In Tanach

Throughout the entire Tanach, the word “Zahav” (“gold”) is written three hundred thirty nine (339) times. However, the words “Zahav Tahor” (“pure gold”) is written in the Tanach twenty four (24) times. The words “Zahav Tahor” appear twelve times in Parashat Terumah (where commands regarding the Mishkan are given) and in Parashat Tetzaveh. Then, it appears another twelve times in Parashat Vayakhel and Parashat Pekudeh, where details and specifications are given regarding the building of the Mishkan.

We must take notice of this very curious detail, why is “Zahav Tahor” written in the order of twelve and twelve? In order to answer this question, we must learn about the Mishkan and the items within it.

The Mishkan

Some of the Mishkan’s items had been made out of regular, solid gold, while other items had required to built out of Pure Gold. The instructions for creating these items are detailed in Parashat Pikudeh. However, there is one item that had been made out of Pure Gold despite the Torah’s commandment to make it out of regular solid gold, and that is the fringes of the Kohen Gadol’s coat. For these fringes, the Torah commands to include gold bells.

However in the end, the bells had been made out of pure gold. This raises a significant question. We know that it is absolutely prohibited to alter any details in Hashem’s specifications for the Mishkan, so how did they take the liberty to change Hashem’s command and produce pure-gold bells?

The Value of Gold

As everyone knows, there is a special relationship between mankind and gold, for the value of gold is not set according to supply and demand like with other goods. The proof is provided when the Torah describes the river that flows from the Garden of Eden. This river then divides itself into the four rivers. One is called Pishon as it surrounds the land of the land of Havilah, where there is valuable gold, crystal and the onyx stones. The name of the second river is Gichon, it encompasses all the land of Cush. The name of the third river is Chidekel; it flows to the east of Ashur. And the fourth river is Perat. We learn from the fact that the gold near the river of Pishon is considered very valuable without any connection to supply or demand as there was no humans on earth yet.

The concept that there is gold in the Garden of Eden comes to teach us the relationship between mankind and gold; for just as the gold is sourced and removed from the earth, so is mankind who is made of earth, and the name אדם (Adam) is derived from אדמה (Adama – earth). The place to excavate gold is called מכרה זהב, there is a great similarity to the English word: “Mine”, which sounds like “Mind” or מח in Hebrew. A Man’s life revolves around 24 hours, divided into 12 hours for the day and 12 for the night. Similarly, gold that’s 100% pure, is classified as 24 Karat, no more and no less. Connecting back to the idea above, Pure Gold is expressed in the Torah 24 times and the 24 times are equally divided between commanding to have the Mishkan, and its building details.

Refining Gold

There is another correlation between Gold and Mankind. Just as there is ordinary gold, there is ordinary people. Then there are extraordinary people who are a cut above everyone else just like there is superior, pure gold. In order to improve ordinary gold to become pure gold the process of mixing and purification is necessary. So too, people must work on themselves for purification all day, every day, and the way to do so is by self-discipline. Discipline is mankind’s purification and a twenty-four-hour path to rise to the level of pure gold.   

Every day of a person’s life consists of 24 hours. The only two exceptions when one lives through a day that has less than 24 hours is the day of birth and day of passing. In light of this, one can say that the Head symbolizes start of man, and the leg marks the other. The Kohen Gadol’s head is adorned with a pure gold band, which provides protection to the head – the beginning. The end is expressed in the Kohel Gadol’s coat, which is long, just above the floor, symbolizing the conclusion of life. There was no command to make the bells on the Kohel Gadol’s coat in pure gold; only ordinary gold. The sages and Bezalel added that because one’s passing should be symbolized as pure; like the coat’s bells, making man’s beginning and conclusion like pure gold.   


To conclude, we must remember the importance and significance of self-discipline that purifies us to become pure gold, 24-hours a day, while self-discipline always comes with some sort of pain. People must remember, every day, to choose well between pain of self-discipline, or pain of disappointment without self-discipline. 

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