The first word of this week’s Parashah is “VaYakheil.” This word refers to Moshe calling Bnei Yisrael together to collect materials for the Mishkan. Oddly enough, this is the second time the Torah uses the word “VaYakheil,” the first being during the story of Cheit HaEigel (spelled the same but pronounced “VaYikaheil”). There, the word is used to describe the entire nation working together for an Aveirah, while in our Parashah it is used to describe their assembly to do a great Mitzvah. What is the significance of using the word “VaYakheil” at two separate, polar opposite instances?
The answer is that the word’s use the second time shows that God is offering a second chance. When the Jews commit the sin of the golden calf, their belief and service of Hashem falter greatly. Shortly after, they redeem themselves by performing a selfless act of charity, donating as a Kehilah the materials needed to build the Mishkan. Hashem offers us a second chance and we take it.
In addition to appealing to Bnei Yisrael to donate to the Mishkan, Hashem also tells them about Shabbat. This is seemingly out of place in the midst of talk of the Mishkan. Shabbat is a day when we rest to reflect on life and deepen ourselves spiritually. What does this have to do with the Mishkan? Perhaps Hashem is hinting to Bnei Yisrael to make the most of the special gift of Shabbat. He wants them to understand that they need to better their relationship with Him using this second chance that they are given, not only in the Midbar with the Mishkan but forever with Shabbat.
Hashem is asking the people to use the second chance to truly dedicate themselves to a life of Torah and Mitzvot. Just like Bnei Yisrael congregated to commit the terrible Aveirah of the Eigel, Bnei Yisrael congregated to accept Hashem’s offering of redemption. This shows the greatness of Am Yisrael. The people reflect upon their mistakes and grasp opportunities, even after falling to depressingly low levels of spirituality.
Let us learn to seize every opportunity, whenever one may arise, to become closer to Hashem. While it may not be easy, it is crucial to be able to reflect on our sins and rectify them before it is too late. Like Bnei Yisrael in the Midber, we should learn not to give up; rather, always reflect on failures so as to learn from them. If we do so, we, like our ancestors, will be able to redeem ourselves as well when the time comes.