א וַיַּקְהֵל מֹשֶׁה אֶת-כָּל-עֲדַת בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל וַיֹּאמֶר אֲלֵהֶם אֵלֶּה הַדְּבָרִים אֲשֶׁר-צִוָּה יְהוָה לַעֲשֹׂת אֹתָם. ב שֵׁשֶׁת יָמִים תֵּעָשֶׂה מְלָאכָה וּבַיּוֹם הַשְּׁבִיעִי יִהְיֶה לָכֶם קֹדֶשׁ שַׁבַּת שַׁבָּתוֹן לַיהוָה כָּל-הָעֹשֶׂה בוֹ מְלָאכָה יוּמָת.
“And Moshe assembled the entire assembly of the children of Israel and said to them: These are the things that Hashem commanded to do them. On six days, work may be done, but the seventh day shall be holy for you, a day of complete rest for Hashem. Whoever does work shall be put to death.” (Vayakhel 35:1-2)
Chazal are bothered by the following question: Moshe gathered the Jewish people regarding matters on which they were commanded “laasot otam”- to do them. The next pasuk clarifies and says that on Shabbat they were not to do any work. What exactly is it that they were supposed to do? The context of the second pasuk seems to imply that they were not to do any work? If so, the first pasuk should really have said “shelo laasot otam”- not to do them?
Chazal answer this question by explaining that the command “to do them” refers to the first phrase of the next pasuk- “six days shall work be done”. This verse relates to the obligation to build the Mishkan during the six days of the week.
One can also explain these pesukim in the following fashion. The first pesukim of this parsha are meant to serve as a contrast to the sin of the golden calf which just took place in Parshat Kee Teesa. Amos Chacham points out that the language used in the first pasuk, reminds us of the sin. “Vayakhel Moshe” corresponds to “Vayikohel Ha’am al Aharon” (Above 32:1). In the previous ‘gathering’ described in Parshat Kee Teesa, the people erred in attempting to create a symbol of the Divine Presence. In this ‘gathering’, Moshe commanded them to make a Mishkan which is the true way to bring Hashem’s presence into their midst. This gathering was a direct response to the previous gathering.
Furthermore, the language “vayakhel Moshe et kol adat Bnei Yisroel” is instructive. These pesukim were spoken to “kol adat Bnei Yisroel,” the entirety of the Jewish people. The people, as a whole, failed in regard to the sin of the golden calf. Even those who were not involved stood by the sidelines and did nothing to attempt to stop their brethren. This is why Moshe spoke to the entire people at this point in time. As a community they needed to understand that they bore responsibility for the nation. These responsibilities are what the words “laasot otam” refer to. The following verse states that the punishment for Shabbat violation is death. Who is responsible for executing this punishment? Kol adat Yisroel- the Jewish people. The people as a nation have a responsibility to uphold the laws. When one Jew sins, the entire people bears responsibility. The people failed in this regard when they allowed the golden calf to be built. Moshe called them together at the beginning of our Parsha, and instructed them that they were being given another chance. Kol ha’oseh bo melacha yumat teaches us that if other Jews are not observing Shabbat, we, as a people, are responsible.
This lesson is more meaningful today than ever before. We all have the ability to serve as role models for Jews throughout the world by modeling a life imbued with the beauty of Shabbat. We have the opportunity to take responsibility for promoting the ideals and values of Shabbat to those around us, thereby spreading the spirit and joy of Shabbat to Jews around the world.