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This Shabbos has three special designations: Shabbos Chazak, Shabbos HaChodesh, and Shabbos Mevorchim.
1) Shabbos Chazak: On this Sabbath we conclude the Book of Exodus, and as we do so, the entire congregation rises and proclaims "Chazak, Chazak, V`Nischazek" -- "Be Strong! Be Strong! And may we be strengthened." We beseech the Almighty to give us the strength to continue and succeed in our Torah studies and in our commitment.
2) Shabbos Hachodesh: On this Sabbath we take out a second Torah scroll and read the section of the Torah that discusses the laws of the Passover Sacrifice, and the eating of matzoh and marror. Since we are now on the threshold of Passover, we are commanded to review the many laws of this awesome festival that marks the anniversary of our redemption as a nation.
3) Shabbos Mevorchim: We bless the upcoming month of Nissan (which means miracles). Rosh Chodesh will be celebrated on Tuesday, March 28th as we begin the count-down to the festival of Passover.
PARSHAS VAYAKHEL - THE POWER OF FAITH
For the past few weeks the parshiot have been dealing with the construction of the Tabernacle and all the various vessels and furnishings therein. G-d commissioned these articles with specific measurements and designs, but the people were responsible for their execution. The question that must occur to all of us is how it was possible for a nation of slaves who for generations had been in bondage, and who had no artisans among them, to create such an intricate and magnificent structure as the Tabernacle. From where did they gain the knowledge and the experience?
The answer can be found in our parsha: "Every man, whose heart inspired him, came." If you truly desire to fulfill the will of G-d, if your heart burns with fervor for His sake, then G-d will remove all obstacles from your path and enable you to achieve the impossible. We have an enormous power within ourselves of which we are not even aware, and that is faith. Indeed, if we have faith in our Heavenly Father, if more than anything else we seek to fulfill His will, He will enable us to tap energies and talent that we didn’t even know we possessed. We need only have vision and dare to dream, and our dream will be translated into reality.
We see this throughout our history. Consider Batya, the daughter of Pharoah, who went to the Nile to bathe. She saw the basket in which the infant Moses was hidden floating in the water. She attempted to save him, but her arms couldn’t reach the basket. Nevertheless, she extended her hand, and when G-d beheld her genuine yearning to save the infant’s life, He miraculously allowed her arms to extend and bring the basket to shore.
In the days of King Saul, the malevolent giant Goliath came to menace the Jewish people. The nation froze in terror. King Saul offered his personal armor to anyone who would battle the monster, but no one had the courage to take up the challenge except David, the young shepherd. David was short, Saul was tall, and it was ludicrous to imagine that he could wear Saul’s armor, but miraculously, when David donned that armor, it fit like a glove! There are many more such examples, but the teaching that we must imbibe is that if our hearts soar with faith and love of G-d -- If we truly desire to serve Him, miracles will take place and G-d will enable us to achieve that which only yesterday appeared impossible. Therefore, let us never feel intimidated when undertaking mitzvos. G-d will give us wings to soar and energy to accomplish our task.
In connection with the construction of the tabernacle, we find the expression, "Ka’asher tziva HaShem es Moshe" "As G-d commanded Moshe" (Exodus, Chapter 38) written eighteen times. Today, we no longer have the Tabernacle, but those eighteen affirmations of G-d’s Will remain. They have been engraved upon our souls and have spanned the centuries through the Shemoneh Esrei - the eighteen blessings of the Silent Amidah Prayer that we recite thrice daily.
Even as Moshe and the people complied precisely with all the detailed laws of the Tabernacle, so too must we be cautious that our prayers are sincere and that we recite them with proper kavanah -- concentration, so that they may invoke mercy and forgiveness for us. This message is especially urgent today, as our beleaguered brethren in Eretz Yisrael are struggling with crises after crises and we witness a terrible escalation of anti-Semitism throughout the world.
We must be sensitive to the pain of our people and intensify our prayers and cry out to our Heavenly Father for salvation.