Beit Midrash

  • Torah Portion and Tanach
  • Pkudei
To dedicate this lesson

Mishkan Of Dreams


Rabbi Stewart Weiss

Adar I 27 5776
"And Betzalel did all that Hashem commanded Moshe…"

Rashi notes the strange way this Pasuk is structured. Rather than say, "Betzalel did all that Moshe had commanded him" – for Moshe was the overall "project manager," while young Betzalel was the chief artisan, under Moshe’s command - the verse intimates that Betzalel somehow knew the (private) discussions that were previously held between G-d & Moshe!

Rashi goes on to elaborate (quoting Brachot 55) that Moshe & Betzalel had a fundamental difference over the order of the mitzvah of the Mishkan: Moshe thought to first create the various objects that would be placed in the Mishkan, such as the Menora, the Mizbeyach, the Aron, etc, while Betzalel felt that it is the building that must first be constructed, & only then the objects placed inside. Moshe demurred to
Betzalel, acknowledging that this, indeed, was the right order, the one which Hashem had communicated to him.

"You indeed befit your name!" says Moshe, "For you are ‘B-Tzel-El, in the shadow of G-d,’ i.e. as close to Him as a shadow, that you were able to hear His words to me."

There is much to say here. First, this episode is indicative of Moshe’s amazing sense of humility that he – the great man of Israel, more than 100 years old – is prepared to concede to a boy of 13. And it shows Moshe’s Mida of Emet-Truth; if Betzalel has it right, then that must be the way to go.

But another important principle is at work, as well: The house must take precedence & be built first, even before the most precious of its furnishings. This does not only apply to the Mishkan. The House of Israel, too, needs to be built – and be built up – before its various parts can be assembled. We have to create a society that is based on Unity, love of our fellow Jew, Chesed & Justice in which to house our most precious objects – Jews of every type.

As you may know, there is a fine institute in Jerusalem with numerous objects of the Mishkan recreated for future use. Just down the road from there is the site of the future Bet Ha-Mikdash. I find it ironic, & so sad, that the Kotel, which for so long was a place of commonality & camaraderie, has been turned into an arena of divisiveness & political horse-trading, with no less than 3 different areas to pray. What once was a sublime symbol of serenity and spiritual exhilaration has become a source of strife.

Our Rabbis discuss at length the many blessings which flow to us from Hashem. But these Brachot must have a home, a receptacle, a suitable crucible in which to reside. And what is that? It is none other than Shalom – Peace; both external & internal. In fact, peace between our fellow Jews far outweighs that between us and the outside world. And that is our greatest, most pressing challenge - to construct a nation built on Unity.

If we built it, they (the Brachot) will come.
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