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(5733) Rashi (Ex.37:1): "And Bezalel made". "Because he extended himself for the work more than the other wise men, it (the work) bears his name"  



1. On the verse (Ex.37:1):

"And Betzalel made the Ark etc.”

Rashi writes in the heading: “Bezalel made” and states:

“Since he devoted himself to the work more than the other wise men, it was called by his name (i. e., the work is attributed to him alone)”.

It is understood that Rashi’s intent in this comment is to resolve the simple question that arises in the words “And Betzalel made the Ark etc.”

In other words, what is different about the Ark that Scripture specifically states that “Betzalel made the Ark etc.”, not like the other vessels of the Mishkan where it just plainly states, “and he made”?

To address this, Rashi answers that “since he devoted himself to the work more than the other wise men, it was called by his name“.

 However, one must understand:

Even though the general construction of the Mishkan involved the partnership of all the wise men that knew these crafts, it is impossible that all of them joined in the making of each of the parts of the Mishkan. Rather, each one of them contributed his portion in the holy work of the Mishkan in one of its details.

Therefore, if so, one could explain the verse, “And Betzalel made the Ark etc.” literally, that Betzalel (himself, and independently) made the Ark.

(And although certainly, Betzalel joined in (for he was the head of all the wise-hearted men for G-d “imbued him . . with wisdom. . to make with every manner of thoughtful work. . to teach etc.”. Therefore, he made, or at least, directed) the making of all the vessels of the Mishkan, and not just the Ark. Nevertheless, one could explain that the Ark was the singular vessel that he made himself. Alternatively, that it is just the Ark that he made without assistance.

The reason for this is also understood according to the simple meaning of the verse:

The Ark was the main and holiest of all the vessels of the Mishkan. Therefore, it was made specifically by Betzalel – the wisest and main craftsman of all the makers of the works of the Mishkan.

If so, one may wonder:

What forces Rashi to take the verse out of its simple meaning,

(that “And Betzalel made the Ark etc.” means that he actually made it)

and to explain that the work was just “called by his name “ (since “he devoted himself to the work“)?

One must also understand:

Since the verse states, “And Betzalel made”, Rashi should have utilized the words of the verse – (“Since he devoted himself) to the making (העשי׳)“ - and not to change and state “the work” (המלאכה)?

2. All this is understood by prefacing what Rashi writes in Parshat Terumah regarding the Ark Cover:

“Although (Scripture) does not give a measure for its thickness, our Rabbis explained that it was a handbreadth thick.”

Seemingly, what is the reason that Rashi informs us in the aforementioned explanation, that is according of the simple meaning of the verse, the width of the walls of the Ark Cover?

(Especially since, it does not state the amount of the width for the other vessels).

Especially since there is no proof according to the simple meaning of the verse, rather his words “our Rabbis explained”?

One could say that with this Rashi comes to explain, parenthetically, why Scripture changes the words of the command of the making of the Ark, to

They (ועשו - in the plural) shall make an Ark of acacia wood”

(Which is not like the commands of the making of the other vessels and garments where it states, “and you (ועשית) shall make etc.)”

For it is understood that, “you (ועשית) shall make etc.” is not meant literally, namely that Moshe himself should be the actual craftsman.

(And that it should be something that restricts all those labors (to Moshe’s part) where it states, “you (ועשית) shall make etc.”)

On the contrary, it is expressly states in Scripture that it was made by,

“Every wise hearted man . . shall do all the work of the service of the Holy etc.”

Moreover, it expressly states in Rashi that, “Moshe did no work whatsoever in the Mishkan”.

Therefore, since the command “you (ועשית) shall make etc.”,

(Albeit in most times, and of those we derive for every occurrence where it states, “you (ועשית) shall make etc.”)

does not mean that the construction itself falls on Moshe, but rather that he should command etc. all the labors of the Mishkan -

(For we have already found that the expression similar to “you (ועשית) shall make etc.”, also fits when the thing is not made with his actual own hands. This is proven from what it states, “he was building a city” where Rashi explains that “Cain was building a city”. However is it within the power of one person to build a complete city?! Rather the explanation is that it was built per his instruction. This is also the explanation of “you (ועשית) shall make etc.”, that it was made according to his instruction.) -

If so, what is different about the making of the Ark where it states, “They (in the plural) shall make“?

Therefore, one must say that this is the innovation in the making of the Ark (where it states) - “They (in the plural) shall make”. Namely, to show that the making of the Ark is not through one person but rather specifically through many people.

Whereas with the other vessels of the Mishkan it states, “you (ועשית) shall make etc.” This word includes, as aforementioned, an individual or many people.

To resolve the question: ‘What is different about the Ark than the other vessels?’, according to Pshat, Rashi is forced to mention a detail of the Ark, which explains why it is impossible for an individual to make it (even though we do not find this detail except in the Oral Torah).

Therefore, Rashi cites in his comment “our Rabbis explained” and prefaces this and elaborates:

“Although a measure was not given for its thickness, our Rabbis explained that it was a handbreadth thick.”

(Like in all the vessels where an amount to its width was not given. Yet here it is different for) our rabbis “explained/פירשו

(Not that they “said/אמרו”, but rather “explained/פירשו”)

that its width is a Tefach.

It is understood simply that it is not within a person’s power to work and make a chunk of gold of such proportions. One that includes the gold of the Ark Cover and the great amount of gold that was needed for the making of the two Keruvim (Cherubs), without the assistance of other people. Therefore, it states, “They (in the plural) shall make”, in the plural.

And although with the Kerashim/Planks it states “you (ועשית) shall make the Kerashim etc.” and Rashi explains,

“For no man was able to erect it because of the weight of the planks”

the verse (“you (ועשית) shall make” -in the singular) is speaking of the command regarding its making. It is therefore possible that it was constructed while the planks were lying on the ground. It is simple that this is not similar to the aspect of raising it from the ground and placing it on the Ark like it was with the Ark Cover.

3. According to the aforementioned, in our explanation that "And Betzalel made the Ark etc." means plainly, seemingly, that Betzalel himself made the Ark, the question arises:

 It expressly states in Parshat Terumah: “They (in the plural) shall make it“. Namely, that its construction should be through many people. Moreover (and primarily) - it is impossible to be made it by one person?!

Therefore, Rashi explains, “And Betzalel made” (not literally, but) since he devoted himself to the work of the Ark it was called by his name.

And although certainly all wise-hearted men devoted themselves to the making Mishkan that they made, as it states regarding each of them:

“Whose heart lifted him up to approach the work to do it.’

Therefore Rashi adds the explanation (that Betzalel devoted himself) more than the other wise men”.

However, one must still understand this, from the other perspective:

Since the main aspect of the increased quality of Betzalel, and his uniqueness, expressed itself in his role in his ability to instruct as it states, “And He put into his heart to teach”,

In other words to instruct and direct all of the wise-hearted men in each specific task,

(Which required great and unique ability, in addition to the completeness of “wisdom, insight, and knowledge etc.”)

If so, he certainly devoted himself to the work more than the other wise men, even in the making of the other vessels of the Mishkan. Therefore, why is this quality specifically emphasized in the making of the Ark?

Therefore, Rashi precisely states, “Since he devoted himself to the work/המלאכה (and not to the making/העשי׳)”:

There is a difference in the meaning of both these words:

  • The scope of making/עשיית something, includes in its definition all the details though which the thing is completed and finalized. In other words, it includes even the details that are not tasks and labors. For with the combination of all of them, the completeness and making of the thing is accomplished. This is as Rashi explains in the Work of Creation (במעשה בראשית),

“And He made: He fixed it upon its base; He fixed them in their complete form, and in their full stature.”

Therefore, it is understood that the same applies to the making of the Mishkan. Its making included not only the actual work and labor of the Mishkan, but also all the other details that are necessary for the building of the Mishkan and its vessels- including the instruction and direction of the construction and the labor.

  • Whereas, Malacha/work/מלאכה means the labor and its effect. The same applies to, “the work/מלאכת of the Mishkan” - the labor and deed in the construction of the Mishkan.

This is also proven from Rashi’s comment:

“He (Moshe) first admonished them concerning Shabbat before the command about the works of the Mishkan, saying, in effect, that it does not supersede the Shabbat.”

Seemingly, was everything that was necessary for its construction superseded by Shabbat? There are many details that are permissible on Shabbat. Especially the instruction and the study of it (הלימוד וההוראה)? However, this is why Rashi precisely states “the command about the works of the Mishkan”, referring to the actual work.

The same is in our case:

 The unique devotion of Betzalel with regard to the Ark was until the “work/ מלאכתof the Ark”. In other words even in the work and labor of the Ark – which was not so with the other vessels.

4. From the aspects of the homiletic style of Torah (“yayina shel Torah”) which is alluded to in the commentary of this Rashi:

The power of Mesirat Nefesh is above all a person’s powers, both those that are transcendent as well as one’s inner powers (הן המקיפים והן הפנימיים). However, the purpose of the intent is that the power of Mesirat Nefesh should reside within all the powers of the person. So much so, that it resides in the lowest power – the power of deed. This is so that even one’s deeds and activities are fitting to the motion of his Mesirat Nefesh (לתנועת המס״נ שלו).

This is what Rashi alludes to in the Mesirat Nefesh of Betzalel on the Ark: “Since he devoted himself to the work”. As aforementioned, the “work” is the actual labor. This means that his Mesirat Nefesh affects all the powers until the person’s power of deed – that even in the work it is recognizable that he is devoting himself (שנתן נפשו).

Through this, not only are all the deeds of the powers in a different manner,

(due to the motions of the Mesirat Nefesh in them)

but even more so, even the powers with regard to their specific aspects (as they are specific powers with specific properties) are elevated through this, to a more lofty level.

This is what Rashi continues:

more than the other wise men”

Namely, that through one’s Mesirat Nefesh, there is an increase in all the powers, until the highest power, the power of wisdom, which is the level of “more” (יותר), than the wisdom is of its own accord.

(In other words, as it is by “other wise men” who did not devote themselves)

This is also understood from the saying, “There is no one as wise as one who has experienced adversity” (אין חכם כבעל הנסיון).

For since, the Mesirat Nefesh comes through experience, in actual deed, this adds to his wisdom, so much so that there is “no wise men” like him.

Rashi concludes:

“It was called by his name“:

All this occurs since the Mesirat Nefesh draws down (נקראת/”calls”) the level of Keter, which is called “His name”. For it is “on top of” (על) all the Sefirot and it affects them. Therefore, it effects an elevation even in the person’s soul, in all his powers (“that were drawn down from them” – from the upper Sefirot.

5. This power of Mesirat Nefesh came to Betzalel as an inheritance from his grandfather Chur, who sacrificed his life to prevent the Sin of the Calf, which is the antithesis of the Mishkan (whose purpose is) – “and I will dwell among them”.

(This is why G-d command us to make the Mishkan, “In order that all the nations know that they were granted atonement from the deed of the Calf”).

In other words, Chur sacrificed his life in order that G-d should rest His Shechinah below. Therefore, even his grandson, Betzalel, had Mesirat Nefesh for the making of the Ark, which was the primary revelation of “and I will dwell among them”.

Therefore, this aforementioned aspect (in Par. 4) is also alluded to in the name Betzalel, and the name of his father and grandfather – “Betzalel, the son of Uri, the son of Chur”:

  • “Uri” is from the word “light/ אור” which refers to the aspect of the level of Z”A, or alternatively Chochmah, the beginning of the Ten Sefirot.
  • “Chur” is from the word Nekev/perforation which also refers to Nukva/Female – the Sefirah of Malchut, the end of all the levels.
  • “Betzalel” is the aspect of “in the shade of G-d/E-l”, which is above all the aforementioned levels. For G-d’s name E-l refers to Chesed – the beginning of Z”A, the “day that goes with all the days“. Or alternatively even completely above Z”A and Malchut - from the Middot and from all the Ten Sefirot. For it is the first name of the Thirteen Attributes of Mercy.

(Note: The Middot are called ‘days’. “Days/Yomam” (in the plural) refers to Chesed as it states, “By day/Yomam may the L-rd command His kindness”. This is the level of “day that goes with all the days”. For Chesed is the first of the Middot and includes all of them, and gives power to all of them. In another place this is termed the level of Abba/Chochmah.

כי המדות נקראו יומין כידוע ויומם הוא בחי' החסד כמ"ש בזהר (דק"ג ע"ב) דכתיב יומם יצוה ה' חסדו. והוא בחי' יומא דאזיל עם כולהו יומין כי החסד הוא הראשון שבמדות וכולל כולם ונותן בהם כח בכולם . . ובמ"א נתבאר דיומם היינו חסד דאבא פי' שהכוונה על החכמה )

How much more so is it that “the shade of G-d/E-l” which is the Makif and the shade of the name E-l, is above all the aforementioned levels. For it refers to the aforementioned aspect, that the power of Mesirat Nefesh is above all the transcendent and inner powers.

(Z”A and Malchut. For Z”A in reference to Malchut is considered transcendent/Makif)

It draws down from the level which is above all the Sefirot, the level of Keter.

6. According to this, the reason why Moshe commanded Betzalel to:

“first make the vessels and then the Mishkan”

yet Betzalel

“made the Mishkan first and afterward made the vessels”,

is also understood.

For since the level of Betzalel is above all the transcendent and inner levels, and at that level, the inner are more manifest (מושרשים יותר), Therefore, Moshe wanted that the vessels should be made first, the inner aspects, and afterward the Mishkan which is the transcendent level – Makif.

However, Betzalel said that even though this is his level, nevertheless, until one attains this level, one must ascend from below to above, from level to level. Therefore, he “made the Mishkan first and afterward made the vessels”. For in Avodat HaAdam, one must first draw down the transcendent level of Makif, and afterward the level of Makif influences the inner powers.

MSichas Shabbat Parshat Vayakhel – Pekudei 5731

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