Haftarah: Vayakhel: Notes
King Solomon’s Beit Hamikdash – Temple – was more physically remarkable than the Mishkan – Tabernacle – constructed by Moshe and the Children of Israel. Besides being far larger and elaborate, our Haftarah lists numerous additional vessels in Solomon’s structure: Ten extra Menorot, ten extra Tables, the Yachin U’Boaz columns, ornamentation, pedestals, pools and more.
Despite its magnificence, there were other differences that seem to have diluted the glory of the Beit Hamikdash. The Mishkan was constructed entirely from donations, “From every man whose heart motivates him.” (Exodus 25:2) “The people are bringing more than enough for the labor of the work that God has commanded to perform.” (Exodus 36:5) “Each skilled women wove with her hands.” Every detail of the Mishkan was an expression of “nidvat lev,” – a heart that desired to participate.
Solomon, on the other hand, “Imposed a levy from all of Israel. Adoniram (my master is exalted) was in charge of the tax.” (Kings I 5:27)
The Mishkan was the work of the Children of Israel, performed with great awareness and a sense of sanctity. The Temple was built with the help of Hiram, King of Tzur, as part of a treaty between him and Solomon.
The Torah repeatedly describes the work of the Mishkan as, “As God commanded Moshe.” However, regarding Hiram’s work on the Temple the verse says, “Hiram finished doing all the work that he did for King Solomon,” (Kings I 7:40) it doesn’t mention God.
Who was the Hiram who begins this Haftarah? His father, a skilled craftsman had died, and the verse stresses that he was the “son of a widow.” (Kings I 7:13) The Talmud (Kiddushin 31a, as explained by the Tosafot Ri Hazaken) teaches that his need to assume financial responsibility at a young age helped him develop his mind and skills at an accelerated pace. The master craftsman of King Solomon’s Beit Hamikdash was a person with great drive and ambition. Shlomo HaMelech wanted such drive to be part of the House of God. The King was concerned that people would lose their sense of self in his magnificent structure, and he wanted to remind them that its holiness could only be derived from human ambition and reach.
“And Hiram finished,” – “Vayichal,” as in, “Vayichal Moshe,” “And Moses completed the work,” (Exodus 40:33) and as in, “And the Lord completed His work,” (Genesis 2:2) of the creation. God created the world, “la’asot,” – for us to do something with it, as did Moshe and the Children of Israel, and as did Hiram.