For an explanation of the methodology of this series, see the introduction.

"Moses called the whole community of the children of Israel to assemble, and he said to them: "These are the things that G‑d commanded to make." (Exodus 35:1)

Peshat (basic meaning):

Rashi: Moses called… to assemble
on the day after Yom Kippur, when he came down from the mountain.

Siftei Chachamim: The preceding parasha ends with Moses' descent from the Mountain. The narrative here continues from this point.

Remez (hinted meaning):

...the glow of a person's face on Shabbat is not the same as on week days.

Baal HaTurim: Our verse is preceded by the verse: "Moses did not know that the skin of his face had become radiant" and after that, Shabbat is discussed. This shows that the glow of a person's face on Shabbat is not the same as on week days. "Moses called…to assemble" because Moses was going to speak about Shabbat. This hints to the custom to hear public Torah lectures on Shabbat and Yom Tov.

Derash (interpretive meaning):

Ramban: All the congregation of the children of Israel
includes the men and women, for all donated to the work of the Mishkan. Moses first commanded Aaron and the rulers and "all the children of Israel" —the men--"all that G‑d had spoken to him at Mt. Sinai" following the breaking of the tablets, and now again commanded that all the people be assembled, whereupon the whole congregation gathered to him—men, women and children.

Ohr HaChayim: We are told (Zohar III:196) that Moses assembled the men separately from the women, because the Accuser was present and Moses wanted to forestall him from being able to harm Israel during such an assembly. Since women were not normally present when Moses explained the Torah to the people, Moshe did not normally have to take this measure to counteract the presence of the seducing Satan. He made an exception here when both men and women brought donations for the building of the Holy Mishkan.

Maggid Mesharim: The secret of the matter is the word Aidat/"congregation of" has the signification of the word Aidut/"testimony". It signifies that Israel serves as witness in the world, that G‑d created the world. Therefore the two nations [other cultures] that compromise a large part of the world acknowledge the renewal of the world. They learned this from the Jews. If not for the existence of Israel, through whom the renewal of the world is publicized when they observe the Torah, these nations of the world would deny the renewal of the world just as the ancient peoples denied it.

Moses assembled the entire Aidat/congregation of the Children of Israel to speak to them, to send them abundant shining light from his own illuminated face, as it says. And he reminded them of that merit that they have in providing Aidut/testimony and being witnesses to the renewal of the world, as hinted at by the illumination of the Shabbat.

...the practical building of the Mishkan was preceded by the assembly of unity...

Lubavitcher Rebbe: When the Torah was given at Mt. Sinai, the Jewish people were granted the privilege of causing the Shechinah to dwell on earth. However this did not actually happen until the Mishkan was built, as it says, "When did the Shechinah dwell on earth? on the day the Mishkan was erected." (Bemidbar Raba 13:2, 12:6) The building of the Mishkan thus was the "practical application" of the giving of the Torah.

Just as the giving of the Torah was preceded by a state of total unity among the Jewish people, when then camped "as one person with one heart " (Rashi to Ex. 19:2) so too the practical building of the Mishkan was preceded by the assembly of unity described here. In fact this assembly was even greater than that which was before the giving of the Torah, for the latter was a unity of intention (acceptance of Torah), whereas this assembly was a unity of action (construction of Mishkan). This sheds light on a number of details here:

* one of the greatest causes of disputes between people is money. Yet here we see the Jewish people willingly gave of their possessions for construction of the Mishkan;
* the assembly occurred the day after Yom Kippur (Rashi to 35:2), a day of unity and friendship and forgiving. So too was the energy of the holy day channeled onto the mundane week day;
* the assembly was made by Moses, since every Jew has a spark of Moses within him, and it is through revealing this spark that the Jewish people came to a state of unity; and
* Moshe mentioned first the mitzvah of Shabbat since observance of Shabbat is based on the belief that G‑d provides a person with his sustenance, which also prevents financial disputes between man and his fellow.

Sod (esoteric, mystical meaning):

Zohar Vayakhel 195:
Come and see what is written above: "of every man whose heart prompts him" (Ex. 25:2), which includes everyone. This is because G‑d wanted to build the tabernacle from all sides, the inner part and the shell. And since there were a mixed multitude among them, it was said, "of every man whose heart prompts him," in order to include them in Israel who are the inner part. Thus, everyone was commanded.

Afterwards, people came together according to their desire, and the Mixed Multitude came and created [worshipped] the calf, and those among Israel who were drawn towards them eventually died. The mixed multitude brought upon Israel death and killings. G‑d said that from now on the building of the tabernacle would be performed only by Israel. At once, "Moses gathered all the Congregation of the children of Israel together..." Afterwards it is written: "Take from among you an offering to G‑d" (35:5). "From among you" is emphasized, instead of as written before, "of every man whose heart prompts him" (Ex. 25:2). "And Moses gathered..." Where did he gather them from? Because the mixed multitude was among them, Moses had to gather and separate Israel from among them.

BeRahamim LeHayyim:
The dreamers among us help our evolution to a more perfect society. Moses was a dreamer. He who stood at the Daat/ Knowledge of collective Israel dreamt that the Erev Rav/mixed multitude could be depended upon in the rebuilding of a Jewish society. Last week's Golden Calf episode, with the mixed multitude as the chief culprits, sort of knocked out this vision, BIG TIME! Erev Rav in gematria totals 474, the same amount as the word Da'at/Knowledge, Moses' main faculty. There were 2 trees in the Garden: the Tree of Life and the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. Better we choose life. Too much knowledge unfortunately can lead to death and destruction.

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