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BEYOND A SHADOW OF A DOUBT

by Steven Schwartzberg    
Torah from Dixie Staff Writer    

Every morning, as we rise from our slumber, we say in our prayers, "The beginning of wisdom is the fear of Hashem." And keeping this in mind, we try to live our lives accordingly.

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Every morning, as we rise from our slumber, we say in our prayers, "The beginning of wisdom is the fear of Hashem." And keeping this in mind, we try to live our lives accordingly. Of course, one of the best ways to do something is to follow an example, such as that which is presented at the very beginning of this week's Torah portion.

"Betzalel, son of Uri, son of Chur, of the tribe of Yehuda, made all that Hashem had commanded Moses. With him was Oholiav, son of Achisomach, of the tribe of Dan. . ." (Exodus 38:22-23). On the surface, Hashem's choices for the builders of the mishkan (Tabernacle) appear to be rather odd. Betzalel, though of the most exalted tribe of Yehuda, was only thirteen years old; and Oholiav came from the least honored tribe of Dan. Why should Moses, one of the holiest men to have ever lived, listen to these seemingly unworthy craftsmen? Further, why is Betzalel's ancestry traced to two generations, while only Oholiav's father is mentioned? By looking into the characters of the two craftsmen, we can understand the beauty of Hashem's choices.

Betzalel, himself, was brought up with a tremendous fear of Hashem. The Torah makes a point of this by telling us that Betzalel's grandfather was Chur, who was murdered in his attempt to stop the formation of the Golden Calf. Because of the fear of Hashem which flowed through Betzalel's veins, he was granted wisdom far beyond that of his years. This wisdom manifested itself in the manner in which Betzalel built the mishkan and all of its vessels. Moses told Betzalel to build the ark which would hold the Ten Commandments, and then build the mishkan. Betzalel asked, "Would it not be wiser to build the house before we build the furniture? We should first construct the mishkan and then build the ark to be placed inside." In response, Moses realized that Betzalel had great wisdom, and was a wonderful choice to carry out Hashem's instructions. Betzalel's wisdom is evident in his name, which is derived from the Hebrew term b'tzel kel, meaning in the shadow of G-d. Betzalel, like all of us, was created b'tzelem elokim, in the image of G-d. However, he was able to emerge from his shadow, and at thirteen years of age grasp concepts that even Moses did not perceive at his wise age of eighty-two. Oholiav possessed the same quality. Though he came from a lowly tribe, he was also able to emerge and construct the house in which Hashem would dwell until the building of the first Temple.

We can learn a valuable lesson from the architects of the mishkan. Throughout life, we are presented with obstacles and decisions to make. Often, our judgment seems clouded, and we feel unable to make the proper choices. We should attempt to emerge from our shadows, and live with the proper fear of Hashem which brings about true wisdom.

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Steven Schwartzberg, who hails from Cincinnati, is currently a tenth grader at the Yeshiva High School of Atlanta.

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