ויקהל משה את כל עדת בני ישראל ויאמר אלהם אלה הדברים אשר צוה ה’ לעשת אתם which is the mitzvah of Shemiras Shabbos.

ויקהל     Moshe gathered all of Bnei Yisrael. The seforim bring that the gematriah of ויקהל is the same as מקוה  151. The gematriah is apropos since the word מקוה also means to gather (Bereishis 1,9). However, esoterically we can interpret the gematriah to convey another concept that when Yidden assemble to be part of an endeavor of kedusha it has the spiritual cleansing of a mikvah.  This concept is alluded to in the passuk מקוה ישראל הויה (Yirmahu 17,13).  A mikveh is when Yisrael together bring about Hashem’s presence.

Another explanation of this gematriah can be gleaned from an interpretation that I saw on the passuk ברב עם הדרת מלך(Mishlei 14,28). The more people that are involved in the fulfillment of a mitzvah, the greater embellishment is produced to the king. In his novel interpretation the author translated the word הדרת to mean return. The greater the tzibbur, the greater are the chances that Hashem will go back and retract on the misfortunate He decreed upon us. According to his interpretation, we can explain the gematria as follows: the word מקוה also means hope. Through the merit of ויקהל of an assemblage coming together, one can have renewed hope that Hashem will abolish the decree. As the Megaleh Amukos writes that the word צבור equals רחמים. This is all hinted to in the very word ויקהל which can be spelled לקה וי. The וי the woe, is smitten and removed through the power of the צבור.

This call for achdus was the turnaround of Purim when Esther said לך כנוס את כל היהודים go gather “all” the Yidden together. It was the ingredient of achdus that played a major role in the victory over the decree of Haman. בראותם “יחד”תכלת מרדכי they saw together and with achdus the glory of Mordechai. They merited to the yeshuah only because they were יחד. The achdus gave them hope for the salvation as this theme is repeated twice in the payit of Shoshanas Yaakov  תשועתם היית לנצח ותקוותם בכל דור ודור.
להודיע שכל קוויך לא יבושו ולא יכלמו לנצח.

We would like to present yet a third interpretation on the word ויקהל and the juxtaposition of Shabbos next to the Mishkan. The Medrash Yalkut explains that from the beginning of the Torah and until the end there is no parsha that begins with the word ויקהל except for this one. It comes to teach us the command of Hashem to gather together on Shabbos and teach Hilchos Shabbos. This is learned out from the words in this passuk אלה הדברים. For Chazal derive from them the 39 Melachos; אלה  is gematrai 36, דברים which is in the plural form is minimum 2, and the letter ה of הדברים adds one more to a total of 39.

This conveys that Shabbos is a time of assemblage of all Yisrael כל עדת bonding together as we say during the davening of Shabbos Mincha וינוחו בו כל ישראל  that we daven for all of Yisrael to keep the Shabbos. Since Shabbos is a time of unity, our tefillos take the unique form that all Yisrael should merit to preserve the Shabbos.

This characteristic of Shabbos is such that it bonds Yidden not only on Shabbos but its power of achdus overflows into the six days of the week as well. I once heard that when the President of the Conservative Movement delivered his retirement speech at their annual convention, his address was the following. If there was one thing that he would change on the Conservative Platform it would be by adding on the mitzvah of Shabbos observance. Here I am ready to retire and I am looking high and low for a Jewish community to settle in with whom to spend the remaining years of my life. Guess what I found? There is no such reality of a Conservative or Reform Jewish community anywhere in the world. The reason is because we do not require to be a Shomer Shabbos. You can live 20 miles from the synagogue and drive there whenever you need to. Without a community it is very possible that you may never come in contact with another Jew even if belongs to the Reform Movement within your five mile radius. But you will find copious orthodox communities throughout the country and the world. The Torah dictates that travelling by car on Shabbos is prohibited. That leaves no choice but for everyone to live in close proximity to a shul. It is the Shabbos observance that produces the forming of Orthodox communities.

It could be that the Torah alludes to the President’s address by placing together the ויקהל and the Parsha of Shemiras Shabbos together with the Mishkan which symbolizes the Bais Hakenesses. The Torah is sending a clear message that the reason why Yidden have a community is because of Shemiras Shabbos which forces everyone to be close enough to walk to the shul. Now we can understand an allusion of the Torah that it mentions the prohibition of lighting a fire as the example of the 39 types of Melacha of Shabbos (either as a לאו without a כרת or לחלק  see Rashi 35,3). The Torah is telling us that in the future over 3000 years after it was given, that  because of this issur of fire which prohibits one to drive a car to shul is the reason why why we have Jewish communities and the fulfillment of theויקהל of Shabbos.

Now we can understand that the passuk says אלה הדברים אשר צוה ה’ לעשות אותם. The Baal Haturim takes note of the fact that the word לעשת  is written without the customarily letter vov. It is to make us aware that Shabbos has the characteristic of joining Yisrael together. The letter vov represents this concept for it is the letter that joins one word to another. By creating shalom amongst ourselves we help make the Shabbos by demonstrating its quality to unite all Yisrael. The missing vov also hints to the effect Shabbos has during the six days of the week. The effect of the Shabbos causes the Jewish community to exist even during the six days of the week.

There is an old saying that more than Am Yisrael preserving the Shabbos, it is the Shabbos that preserved Am Yisrael. The reason is as we explained above that because of Shabbos we have established communities. Now that we have communities we have the power for all of us to come together on Shabbos and teach Hilchos Shabbos. We also are able to daven to Hashem ברב עם הדרת מלך which gives us a hope of Am Yisrael’s preservation לנצח. With a community we also have the ability to cleanse ourselves like a mikveh from the impurities and pollution that we import from the outside world. The gematriah of מקוה ישראל with its nine letters equalsשבת including its three letters. Toveiling in the mikveh Erev Shabbos is also a preparation to realize that one is about to enter a special other worldly 24 hour time zone that envelopes one’s entire body like a mikveh embracing one with a spiritual Taharah. Let’s take full advantage of it.

Gut Shabbos,
Rav Brazil