Past Weekly Shabbat Message
Jewish Heritage
Rabbi Dovid Saks
(Torah Portion Ki Sisa) Boy Wonder!

G-d chose Betzalel as the candidate for chief architect to construct and oversee the building of the Temple in the desert. G-d turned to Moshe and asked him if he thinks Betzalel was worthy for the job. Moshe said, “Of course, if he is good for You, he is good for me.” G-d then told Moshe to ask the Jewish people what they thought about Betzalel heading the project. They responded in the same way that Moshe did, “Of course, if He is good for You, he is certainly good for us.”

Why did G-d ask for public opinion about Betzalel’s appointment?

Our Sages tell us that Betzalel was a mere thirteen years old at the time, therefore, G-d in a preemptive move, first asked Moshe and the people if they were comfortable with a young Betzalel in a managerial position, knowing the skeptical reaction people have to a youngster spearheading an intricate and holy project.

The Torah attests that Betzalel was infused with a brilliant spirit of knowledge of all the skilled labor needed to create the Temple.

Our Sages also tell us that in order to infuse the physical material with a holiness that would be acceptable for G-d’s dwelling place on earth, Betzalel was given clarity to understand how G-d combined the letters of the Torah to serve as a blueprint to formulate and create the world.

Just as computer programmers use codes typed in an exact format to produce letters, graphics, pictures and art, so did G-d, in a far greater way, create the world and all existence, based on His formula of the letters of the Holy Torah.

For a Temple of G-d to be created and function on earth while it was on still connected to Heaven, required a spiritual codification similar to that needed to create of the world. Betzalel was gifted with this knowledge.

What made Betzalel worthy of this knowledge and appointment?

The day after G-d’s Revelation at Mount Sinai when He Personally proclaimed the Ten Commandments, He summoned Moshe to Heaven to teach him the Torah in its entirety. Moshe told the people he would be back after 40 days and nights, and left them under the leadership of his brother Aaron and nephew Chur.

A group of Egyptians who had joined the Jews when they left Egypt miscalculated the date of Moshe’s return and they began to panic. Fear and chaos have the ability to sway and influence people into an irrational frenzy. Thus they were able to convince some Jews that Moshe was not returning. They wished to create something that would replace Moshe in the form of an idol.

The righteous Chur tried to stop them. Our Sages tell us that they were so obsessed with the desire to create an idol; they horrifically slaughtered Chur and offered him as a sacrifice!

Aaron tried his best to stall the people until Moshe would return, but they got their way and created a golden calf. Incidentally, through the witchcraft that the Egyptians were acquainted with, the calf moved about and also spoke.

When Moshe returned from Heaven and saw the idol worship, he threw down the tablets and destroyed the golden calf and all those involved were either killed or died.

G-d was extremely upset and wished to destroy the nation and begin anew with Moshe at the helm. Moshe pleaded for 40 days on behalf of the Jews. ?Then G-d showed a willingness to forgive the Jews, and they sincerely repented over the next 40 days. Moshe finally came down from Heaven with the second tablets on a day that has ever since been associated with atonement, the 10th day of Tishrei – Yom Kippur.

G-d then gave the instruction to create a Temple for Him to symbolize His forgiveness for their sin.

G-d specifically chose Betzalel, the grandson of Chur, giving him the honor and responsibility to be the chief architect of construction of the Temple as a merit to Chur - who had given up his life while trying to prevent a grave sin.

We should always consider that our good fortune is because of the prayers, good deeds, self-sacrifice and devotion G-d of one of our many righteous ancestors over the millenniums. We should also envision that our personal commitment to G-d and His Torah will benefit not only ourselves, but be an advantage to our descendants as well!

Wishing you a restful, peaceful
and inspirational Shabbos!
Rabbi Dovid Saks