Beit Midrash

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To dedicate this lesson

The View of an Artist


Various Rabbis

Betzalel was named for his wisdom. When Hashem told Moshe: "Make a mishkan (the tent where the Divine Presence would dwell), an ark, and vessels," Moshe went and said [in] the opposite [order]: "Make an ark, vessels, and a mishkan." [Betzalel] said: "Our teacher, Moshe, the normal way of the world is for a person to build a house and afterward bring the vessels into them … The vessels you have commanded me to make, where shall I place them? Perhaps Hashem told you to make a tent, [followed by] an ark and vessels?" Moshe responded: "Maybe you were b’tzel (k)el (in the shadow of Hashem), and you knew."

Ein Ayah: A spirit that excels in art has a strong and natural picture of things. This inner feeling does not allow him to portray something in a manner that does not fit its characteristics. A musician similarly cannot stand to hear music that does not conform to the rules of natural harmony that are etched in the spirit because of his spirit’s natural sensitivity.
An artist is bothered by a development plan that strays from that which is normal. The feeling of a complete artist is a matter of great wisdom, and is even greater regarding someone like Betzalel, upon whom the spirit of Hashem rested (see Shemot 35:31).
There is a difference between order as seen by someone whose wisdom is in the realm of logic as opposed to one who possesses the wisdom of art. The first type sees things ordered based on wisdom and ethics. The artistic person views things according to their existence within the natural world. For the Master of All Matters, there is no contradiction between the order according to logic and that of art because His wisdom is beyond all and He is the source of the talent of art, which He put into creation. However, humans grasp the order of things differently according to their sensitivities. One who is close to logic and justice views things as needing to be ordered in line with those values, whereas one who is artistically inclined views things in the manner that they exist in practice.
Hashem listed to Moshe the elements of the Mishkan in a certain order, but He did not say whether this indicated the necessary order of their construction or there was some other reason. Moshe viewed the vessels as the reason for the Mishkan, as they would be involved in the service, and the tent was just a place in which they would be situated. He thus viewed the vessels as the matter that should be studied first, although he saw the tent first in his prophetic vision. However, he figured that the work should start with that which is holier than its counterpart, as this is a value that should take precedence.
Betzalel, on the other hand, could not imagine that matters should go against the nature of the world. He, after all, was supposed to make flowers for the menora modeled after real flowers and cups as they normally are. Because of Betzalel’s tendency, he raised the issue that it is normal for a person to first build a house and then bring in it its vessels. After all, he reasoned, the Mishkan was being erected according to artistic considerations.
Moshe responded that while the light of Hashem is logic and justice, the tendencies of artists and artisans are in the shade of Hashem. When one combines the two, he has a proper picture of how things should be. Betzalel was in fact blessed by being filled with "the spirit of Hashem, with wisdom, insight, and knowledge." With the shadow of Hashem that he was bestowed, he was close to the level of prophecy. Moshe agreed with Betzalel because Hashem uses man’s natural tendencies, which He implanted within him, to reveal Divine wisdom to man.
את המידע הדפסתי באמצעות אתר