Parshat Vayak’hel-Pekudei

Meet the Sisterhood of the Travelling Freilachs

Alex, Jackie, Channah, and Arielle: the sisterhood of the travelling freilachs

Here are four young women who have all changed their lives.

Three are in public school. One transferred to a Jewish high school. Their journey back to Judaism brought them together and much of that path was centred on Shabbat. (This week’s Parsha opens up with the mitzvah of Shabbos!) They celebrate every Shabbos together, all over the city, in different people’s houses. (I had to book them two months in advance – that’s how popular they are.) Next year they’ll be studying (together) in a seminary in Jerusalem. One day this is going to be a book, because this is one inspiring story.

It’s not an accident, that there’s a theme of FOURS this week.

The double parsha here is almost an identical repeat of the parshas Trumah and Tetzaveh. Four Parshas that deal with the design and construction of the Mishkan. (Sanctuary) But the repetition occurs after a significant event occurs – Eigel Hazahav – the golden calf.

Rabbi Zvi Sobolofsky describes the meaning of the difference between the two double parshas. Terumah-Tetzaveh gives instruction for building the Mishkan, while this week’s Parsha recounts the actual construction. Rabbi Sobolofsky writes:

The area of the mishkan endowed with the highest level of kedusha was the kodesh hakodashim (holy of holies) which housed the aron containing the luchos.(tablets) While the aseres hadibros (Ten Commandments) appeared on both the first and second luchos both, the essence of the two sets was different. The first set is described as “v’haluchos maaseh Elokim – the work of Hashem”, whereas the second set was carved out by Moshe Rabbeinu, with only the letters being carved out by Hashem.

This loss of holiness corresponds to the two Batei Mikdashot (Temples).

The first Beis Hamikdash resembled the original plan for the mishkan – present were the shechina, the urim vetumim, and prophecy. It had all the qualities of “maaseh Elokim – the work of Hashem.” On the other hand, the second Beis Hamikdash, devoid of the urim vetumim and nevuah (prophecy), was built by the Jewish people and endowed with sanctity through human effort and fervent prayer that the shechina rest upon it to some degree.

Continuing the theme of four

There are four Shabbatot during the year, which are unrelated to holidays or Rosh Chodesh, but feature two portions. (The Maftir and Haftorah are read from different Parshas). These Shabboses are:

  1. Shekalim
  2. Zachor
  3. Parah
  4. HaChodesh

The first Shabbos after Purim is Shabbat Parah – the Parah Adumah. (red heifer -Bamidbar/Numbers:19)

The ashes of the of the red heifer were used for the purpose of ritual purification before making the pilgrimage to Jerusalem for Pesach. (Passover). This particular Mitzvah (commandment) is a Chok, meaning that it is practiced on the basis of faith and not logic. Between Moshe and the destruction of the second Temple there were only eight or nine red heifers.

According to Rabbi Frand:

The Be’er Yosef offers a powerful insight. The reason G-d hid the understanding of Parah Adumah from us, is to teach us a vital lesson. The lesson is that there are things in life that are inexplicable. We must learn the lesson that things will happen in life that we will never be able to understand. We will come across things that will be terrible paradoxes, things that have apparently no rhyme and no reason.

In honour of this being Shabbat Parah, I bring you the following recipe… Red Velvet Cake.

Bamidbar/Numbers 19:2 This is the statute of the Torah which God commanded, saying; speak to Bnei Yisroel that they shall take to you a red, perfect cow without a blemish, upon which no yoke was laid.

This one baked and decorated by my daughter Aliza!

Bamidbar/Numbers 19:2 This is the statute of the Torah which God commanded, saying; speak to Bnei Yisroel that they shall take to you a red, perfect cow without a blemish, upon which no yoke was laid.

Red Velvet Cake


  • ½ cup or margarine
  • 1 ½ cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • red food coloring
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa (heaping)
  • 1 cup soy milk
  • 2 ¼ cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon vinegar


  1. Cream shortening or margarine, sugar and eggs.
  2. Mix the red food colouring and cocoa.
  3. Add to the margarine mixture.
  4. Add soy milk, flour, salt, and vanilla.
  5. Mix soda with vinegar, and add to the batter.
  6. Pour into a greased and floured 8″ cake pans.
  7. Bake at 350°F for 35 -40 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean.Read more:

Here’s another four in the Parsha:

The Shulchan (table) and Aron (ark) each had four rings on the corner, with which the rods could be threaded through. But the poles were never removed from the rings. Why? To teach that the no matter where the Jewish people travel, the Torah must always be with them.

Here’s a dessert with four rings:

Shemot 37:3 And he cast four golden rings for it upon its four corners, two rings on its one side and two rings on its other side.

I used a cookie cutter that was the same size as the dessert cup to cut out the fruit. Four rings for four colours.

Here’s another ring recipe:

Frozen ice rings with fruit.


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