For all who share a connection to Lubavitch, Shabbos Parshas Vayakhel is a date which evokes mixed memories.
Everyone remembers the unique sichos the Rebbe delivered two years ago which so articulately expressed the Chabad approach to harmony on a personal, interpersonal, and global plane. And everyone remembers what happened two days afterwards.
The points mentioned in those sichos (and expressed in part in our essay which follows) are of fundamental importance.
Firstly, a person must develop inner harmony, pulling himself together despite different pressures and strains. And then, he must interact with others in harmony, seeking not his personal gain or even the progress of the ideals he holds fundamental, but the attainment of the greater good that naturally arises from the synergistic interaction of two people.
This approach should not be confined to those individuals in one's immediate surroundings, but should be spread to all people, even those who are distant.
And indeed, the concept of seeking harmony must be extended beyond the human realm, encompassing creation as a whole, preparing the world for the ultimate good, the coming of the Redemption that will soon be realized.
With these principles as signposts, we can overcome the challenges that arise until - with G-d's help, may it be delayed no longer - the Rebbe Shlita recovers and sets new goals for us in our personal and national journeys to fulfillment.
May the study of the Rebbe Shlita's teachings generate divine blessings that lead to his complete and speedy recovery and enable him to guide the entire Jewish people to the Redemption in the most immediate future.
Likkutei Sichos, Vol. XXI, p. 250ff;
Sefer HaSichos 5749, p. 292ff;
Sichos Shabbos Parshas Vayakhel, 5752.
The Hebrew language does not lack synonyms and there are several other verbs which could have been chosen to begin the verse, 
"And Moshe gathered together the children of Israel," which introduces this week's Torah reading.
The word the Torah employs, Vayakhel, is significant, for it implies the fusion of the people into a kahal, a communal entity that is far more than a collection of individuals. 
A group which gathers together can also part ways, and even while together, their union is not complete.
A kahal, by contrast, represents an eternal  communal entity that takes the individuals beyond their personal identities and unites them in a new framework, highlighting the fundamental bond that joins them together.
Moshe called the people together to make donations toward the construction of the Sanctuary, for the Sanctuary could not be built from the private resources of any individual.
Instead, it was necessary that the money be donated to the collective and the Sanctuary be built by that body. Thus the unity he established among the Jews was even extended into their financial matters.
By nature, we are all concerned with our possessions; our Sages granted many considerations because "A person is anxious about his property." 
As such, money is frequently a source for strife and discord. In this instance, however, the people willingly pooled their resources, joining together in the construction of a structure, the Sanctuary, which reflected their own oneness.
The fact that the Sanctuary was constructed by the Jewish people 
in a spirit of unity 
caused the structure as a whole to be permeated by oneness.
This is reflected in the fact that the construction of the different elements of the Sanctuary (and later the Beis HaMikdash), e.g., the ark, the altar, the menorah, are not considered as separate mitzvos, but rather as part of the more inclusive charge to construct a dwelling for G-d. 
Although each of these elements was a separate structure, its individual identity was subordinated to that of the Sanctuary as a whole. 
G-d's Presence was revealed within the Sanctuary. There it was overtly manifest that the world is His dwelling, and that all the diverse elements of existence are permeated by His oneness. And from the Sanctuary, light spread throughout the world,  diffusing this awareness.
This leads to a second concept: The Jews are "one nation on earth." 
Implied is that they are bound together by inner unity, and this enables them to spread G-d's oneness throughout the world at large. 
For the unity of the Jewish people is an active potential rather than a passive state.
Establishing oneness among our people spurs the manifestation of G-d's unity in all existence.
What motivates our people to rise above their individual identities?
The call of Moshe Rabbeinu.
Moshe Rabbeinu was the epitome of self-transcendence.
He had no self-concern whatsoever; every aspect of his being was committed to others.  And thus he was able to instill self- transcendence among others.
Moshe is described as "a shepherd of faith."
He infused the Jewish people with knowledge, enabling them to establish harmony within the different dimensions of their being. 
To illustrate the concept with a story: Rav Zalman Aharon, the elder son of the Rebbe Maharash, once asked his uncle, Rav Yosef Yitzchak, if he recited his prayers betzibbur, "with the community."
Rav Yosef Yitzchak answered in the affirmative.
The very next day, however, Rav Zalman Aharon noticed that his uncle prolonged his prayers, lingering far longer than any congregation would.
"You told me you prayed betzibbur?" he asked.
"I do," his uncle replied. "Betzibbur literally means 'with the collective.' After I marshall together the ten components of my soul, I pray."
Such efforts are fundamentally necessary to the establishment of unity among our people as a whole.
For when a person develops inner harmony, he will be more open to others and willing to relate to them as equals. And this will encourage the inner bo nd of oneness that all Jews share to surface.
A person's divine service begins with gathering together the different aspects of his own being.
Afterwards, he gathers together with other men, and then, extends this unity until it encompasses every element of existence, showing how the entire world exists to reveal G-d's glory. 
The most complete expression of this oneness will come in the Era of the Redemption, 
when "a great congregation (kahal gadol) will return there," 
Jews from all over the world will stream together to Eretz Yisrael.
This ingathering will be more than geographic in nature, G-d will "bring us together from the four corners of the earth,"  establishing unity and harmony among us.
And this unity will embrace all existence, "the world will be filled with the knowledge of G-d as the waters cover the ocean bed." 
These are not merely promises of the future, but potentials that can be anticipated at present.
The massive waves of immigration that have reached Eretz Yisrael in recent years are obvious harbingers of the ultimate ingathering of our dispersed nation.
And just as the physical dimensions of the Redemption are being anticipated, so too, the possibility exists of appreciating a foretaste of its spiritual elements.
We have the potential to establish a new dimension of harmony within ourselves and spread that harmony among others.
And by anticipating the Redemption, we will precipitate its coming, making it a reality even sooner.
- (Back to text) Exodus 35:1.
- (Back to text) See Tzafnas Paneach, Klalei HaTorah ViHaMitzvos, entry tzibbur.
- (Back to text) For "a collective can never die" Temurah 15b.
- (Back to text) Shabbos 117b, et al.
- (Back to text) In contrast to the parshiyos Terumah and Tetzaveh which relate G-d's command to Moshe to build the Sanctuary, it is the actual construction of the Sanctuary which is the focus of this week's Torah reading. Since this involves activity within the context of ordinary material reality and such activity often is characterized by a lack of harmony, there was a greater need to stress unity.
- (Back to text) The construction of the Sanctuary is a continuation of the synthesis between the material and the spiritual which began with the Giving of the Torah. Before the inception of this sequence, in preparation for the Giving of the Torah, the Jews camped before Mount Sinai "as one man, with one heart" (Rashi, Exodus 19:2). And similarly, before the construction of the Sanctuary, there was again a need to highlight their oneness.
- (Back to text) See Rambam, Mishneh Torah, Sefer HaMitzvos, pos. mitzvah 20, Hilchos Beis HaBechirah 1:6. See the essay in Seek Out the Welfare of Jerusalem, which discusses the halachic ramifications of this concept.
- (Back to text) Our prayer service parallels the worship in the Sanctuary and the Beis HaMikdash. As such, the concept of the subordination of the individual to the collective is also reflected in prayer.
Prayer is essentially a person's request for the fulfillment of his own needs (Rambam, Mishneh Torah, Hilchos Tefilah 1:2). Nevertheless, rather than pray in the singular, while praying, our requests are always made in plural, emphasizing how one must join together with all Jews. The stress on oneness is further underscored by the custom of the Alter Rebbe who placed the declaration, "Behold I accept upon myself the fulfillment of the mitzvah, 'Love your fellowman as yourself,' " at the very beginning of the prayer service (Siddur Tehillat HaShem p. 12).
- (Back to text) Cf. the Jerusalem Talmud, Berachos 4:5.
- (Back to text) II Samuel 7:23.
- (Back to text) Maamar Issa B'Midrash Tehillim (Sefer HaMaamarim 5708, p. 271, English translation, S.I.E., N.Y., 5753).
- (Back to text) See the essay of this series entitled "A Paradigm Of Leadership."
- (Back to text) See the maamar, VeKibeil HaYehudim, 5687, English translation, S.I.E., N.Y., 5751.
- (Back to text) Cf. the conclusion of Pirkei Avos, ch. 6.
- (Back to text) Shabbos is described as me'ein olam habaah, a microcosm of the World to Come. Since the ultimate fulfillment of the unity of Parshas Vayakhel will be in the Era of the Redemption, the parshah begins with the commandment to observe the Shabbos, the day when this unity is expressed.
- (Back to text) Jeremiah 31:8.
- (Back to text) Daily liturgy, Siddur Tehilat HaShem, p. 55.
- (Back to text) Isaiah 11:9, quoted by the Rambam, Mishneh Torah, Hilchos Melachim 12:5, as the conclusion of his discussion of the Era of the Redemption.