By Rabbi David Cohen
And Moshe assembled the entire assembly of Bnei Yisrael. (35:1)
Rashi tells us that the word Vayakhel, “and Moshe assembled”, is written in the hifil, causative, to teach us that Moshe Rabbeinu did not gather the people directly. Rather, he caused them to gather themselves.
One can gather a group of people together for the purpose of having a group – or one can gather a group of people together in a manner that suggests that he is the one in charge of the group, such that his perspective guides the entire group. Moshe wanted the group to be as one: one G-d; one Torah; one leader – Moshe Rabbeinu. Moshe’s words were the force/glue that was the mutual bond between them. Every assembly must have a goal in order for it to succeed.
Horav Yaakov Kaminetzky, zl, explains that when the Torah was given to Klal Yisrael, the Jewish people had achieved an unprecedented level of unity. They were k’ish echad b’lev echad, “as one person with one heart.” When the eigal was made, this unity was shattered. Moshe Rabbeinu had to bring the people together first with one outlook. He first had to make a vayakahel, and assemble the people together to give them one goal and one purpose. Then he could instruct them in the next step: building a Sanctuary.
We are facing a very unique time. With the Corona Virus effecting all of us one way or another we can’t gather as a group like we normally do. At the time where the Parsha speaks of forming large kehilot we must practice “social distancing.” Yet at the same time we must practice the point of having a kahal in the first place – to share in a common goal of fulfilling Hashem’s will.