|The Profundities of Torah-Vayakhel-Adding Sizzle to the Steak|
|Written by HaRav Yochanan Zweig|
“You shall not kindle fire in any of your dwellings on the Sabbath day” (35:3) Many of the commentaries discuss why the Torah singles out the kindling of fire from all the other forms of prohibited Shabbos labor.1 Rav Sadya Gaon explains that the emphasis should be placed on the latter portion of the verse, “bechol moshvosaichem” - “in all of your dwellings”. The Torah is teaching us that the prohibition of kindling fire applies to all of the places where Bnei Yisroel live. The need for this emphasis, explains Rav Sadya Gaon, is to prevent a person from erring by applying the prohibition only to the time period during which Bnei Yisroel subsisted on the manna.2 What rationale could cause a person to arrive at such an assumption?
One possible solution that could be advanced is that since the manna did not require preparation, one may have thought that only under similar circumstances, when fire was not used, would kindling be restricted. However, perhaps when fire was used for food preparation, kindling would be permitted. The flaw in this approach is that Bnei Yisroel did use fire in the preparation of the manna, as the verse attests: “asher tofu eifu v’es asher tevashlu basheilu” - “bake that which you wish to bake and cook that which you wish to cook”.3 Clearly, the preparation of the manna included cooking and baking, yet these activities were still prohibited on Shabbos.
To begin addressing the aforementioned difficulty we must first understand why Bnei Yisroel would cook and bake the manna if it provided every flavor imaginable, even in its raw state. A major factor in culinary palatability is the presentation and appearance of the food. Although the manna offered every desired taste, its appearance never changed.4 To enhance its visual appeal Bnei Yisroel resorted to cooking and baking the manna.
Rav Sadya Gaon is explaining that one may have thought that since such use of fire is not essential in the food preparation process, it falls under the jurisdiction of the Torah’s Shabbos prohibition. When, however, fire would be necessary to make the food edible, the Torah would allow its Shabbos use. Therefore, the Torah stresses that under all circumstances the kindling of fire is prohibited “in all your dwellings”.
1.See Ramban 35:3, Shabbos 70a 2.35:3 3.16:23 4.See Yoma 75b
Question of the Week
The Mishkan had three coverings. The wool covering visible from the inside was known as the “Mishkan”, above it was a covering made from goat hair known as the “Ohel” and on top was the “Michseh” made from animal skins. The Torah describes how Moshe erected the Mishkan; he put down its sockets and created its frame from planks, bars and pillars. He spread the Ohel over the Mishkan and placed the Michseh on top. Why does the Torah not specify the placing of the first cover, the Mishkan, on top of the structure?