Sedra Shorts

Ideas and commentaries on the weekly Torah readings.

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Location: Bet Shemesh, Israel

I taught Tanach in Immanuel College, London and in Hartman, Jerusalem. I was also an ATID fellow for 2 years. At present, I work for the Lookstein Center for Jewish Education in the Diaspora, in Bar-Ilan University, Israel. The purpose of this blog is to provide "sedra-shorts", short interesting ideas on the weekly Torah reading. Please feel free to use them and to send me your comments.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Parshat VaYakhel-Pikudei

The Builders of the Mishkan

God appointed two men to supervise the building of the Mishkan:

"The Lord has called by name Bezalel, the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Yehuda...and Oholiav, the son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan" (Shemot 35:30-34).

Both these names and the callings of these people have always fascinated me. I believe that their names and abilities are connected to the dual purpose of the Mishkan.

The Torah gives Mishkan two names: The Mishkan (Dwelling Place) and the Ohel Moed (Tent of Meeting). Each name represents a different aspect of the Mishkan: Mishkan - the place where God's spirit rests and lives amongst Israel; and Ohel Moed - the place where God meets with Moshe to proclaim His teachings.

Depending on the context, the Torah uses the relevant name. It generally does not use both names together, apart from in this week's parsha:

"All the work of the Mishkan, the Tent of Meeting was completed; the children of Israel had done [it]; according to all that the Lord had commanded Moses, so they had done" (ibid 39:32).

In completing the Mishkan, the children of Israel had created a structure that served a dual purpose: To protect Israel (Mishkan) and to bring God to the world (Ohel Moed).

These ideas are echoed in the names of the master craftsmen:

Bezalel ben Uri ben Hur - The image of God, from light, from emptiness.

This name represents Creation and God proclaimimg His word when previously it had not been heard.

Bezalel would therefore, represent the name and purpose of Ohel Moed.

Oholiav ben Ahisamach -The Tent is my Father (i.e. "Protection"), my Brother is my Support.

This name represents the family of Israel and the presence of God dwelling in the Mishkan.

Therefore, Oholiav would represent the name and purpose of Mishkan.

Note also the tribes of both craftsmen. Bezalel is from Yehuda and Oholiav is from Dan. Yehuda means "thanks" or "graciousness" while Dan is "justice".

Perhaps this is hinting at God's traits of mercy and justice, the middot by which He runs the Universe, and thus indicates another aspect of the Mishkan/Ohel Moed in its totality.


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