Our special guest this week is Rabbi James Ponet, a Lecturer in Law at Yale Law School and the Howard M. Holtzmann Jewish Chaplain at Yale, where he has served as a religious leader since 1981. He earned his B.A. degree from Yale in 1968 with a major in Religious Studies and his master’s and doctoral degrees from Hebrew Union College, where he was ordained in 1973. Rabbi Ponet lived in Israel from 1974 through 1981, studying Jewish thought at Hebrew University in Jerusalem and serving as a Fellow and teacher at both the Shalom Hartman Institute and the Pardes Institute.
This week's Torah portion – Parashat Vayekhal (Exodus 35:1-38:20) – begins with Moses commanding the people of Israel to observe the Shabbat and continues to tell us in great detail about the building of the Tabernacle. Our discussion focuses on the curious notion of the precedence of Shabbat over the building of the Mishkan and on the role of volunteerism and giving in the parasha.