Home > Divrei Torah > Va-yahkel-Pekudei


May 4, 2006

By Suri Krieger

So, it seems that God has appointed me, Betzalel, to be master craftsman of the Mishkan, the holy sanctuary! Oh my God, how daunting! May I be worthy of the task.

The Task’let’s see here, what specs do we have on the list: a Tent of meeting, cherub’embroidered curtains, a number of gold plated furniture items including an ark, an altar for sacrifice, an altar for incense, a wash basin, a menorah, designer clothing for Aaron and sons, anointing oil, exclusive incense; rings, rolls, skins and poles’everything from practical to cerebral!

Why, this kind of work presumes a pretty high level of skills’skills in everything from sewing to carpentry, not to mention metal work, gemology and tanning! Oholiav and I will have to do some major research to get this thing underway!

Curious that these sanctuary details come up over and over! Moses told me he was given this information a few chapters ago, and now he seems to be belaboring the point by repeating them to me again and again.

Hmmm’a sanctuary to perform sacrifices to our God, the God of Israel. The sacrifices require first fruits, unblemished animals’well this Mishkan job is going to require some first class giving also’of purely human resources: wisdom, intelligence, knowledge. Let’s face it, all types of skills are necessary for a productive, fulfilling life. Essential skills are required to produce food, clothing and shelter. Useful skills are required for a higher standard of living’things like tools of metal, scrolls of parchment and ink, roads. Superlative skills are necessary for the artistic realm, which give pleasure and spiritual depth to human life. These are skills that are the gift of the human mind, heart and soul. It is through these gifts that we can evoke the image of God. So it makes sense that just as God desires the first fruits of the land and livestock, God desires the first fruits of human thought, of mind produce. (Leibowitz, Nechama, New Studies in Shemot, Lambda Publishers: Brooklyn, NY, 1995, p 651.)

But you know, I don’t really get why we need this Mishkan altogether! I mean after all, God doesn’t want any images, idols or statues’so what’s the deal with this sanctuary? Certainly God doesn’t need our sacrifices, or eternal lights, or sheer curtains!

Hmmm’where else have I read something about curtains?

On the first day of Creation, God spread out the heaven like curtain! And here in the Mishkan manual it says, ‘You shall spread the curtains over the mishkan!’

On the second day of Creation, God said, let the sky be fixed to separate the upper waters from the lower waters. In the manual it says, ‘the parochet should separate the kodesh hakodashim from the kodesh!’

How intriguing! The specs of the Mishkan seem to correlate with those of the six days of creation. (Weissman, R., The Little Midrash Says: Sm’mos, Benai Yakov Publications, Brooklyn, NY, 1987, p 278.)

Perhaps in building the Mishkan as a mini-model of the world, the holy service done within, the avodah, will bring the Shekhinah (Divine Presence) to rest in our midst’here on the earthly plane, just as She does in the heavenly spheres!

Gulp. I have goose bumps just thinking of the grandeur of this awesome responsibility I have been given!

The Mishkan is a Sanctuary, made in the image of the world, a shadow of creation. Wait a minute! Image? Shadows? Boreh adam b’tzelem elohim. Man is made in the image of God just as the Mishkan is made as a shadow of the Divine Plan!

B’tzelem Elohim, in the image of God! Why that’s just a twist of the tongue to my name, Be’tzal’el’in the shadow of God. I, Betzalel, a mere shadow of God, am meant to oversee the building of the Mishkan, B’tzelem Elohim, in the image of God’s House. Awesome! I am humbled with the realization.

Let me take a look at those specs again. No wonder they are listed five times. There is no way I could get them all down on the first, or even second try!

Curious and curious’er! Although I’ve never even tried out half of these jobs’I mean how could I have possibly have known how to tan dolphin hides, or procure incense, when I’ve been hewing bricks for Pharaoh all these years! Yet I seem to know just what to do and how to do it! Not only have I been gifted this holy assignment, I have been gifted the knowledge of how to pull it all off! May I be worthy of the task.