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Posted on June 7, 2002 (5760) By Rabbi Yaakov Menken | Series: | Level:

“And everyone with a wise heart among you, he shall come and do all the work which G-d has commanded: the Tabernacle, its tent, and its cover, its hooks, its beams, its bars, its pillars and its sockets.” [35:10-11]

Throughout this parsha, in the discussion of the building of the Tabernacle, the Torah indicates that not everyone was able to build this House of G-d. Specific instructions would not have been good enough to permit every person to participate. The construction was led by Betzalel, and Moshe tells the entire congregation that G-d both called Betzalel by name to do the job, and “filled him with the spirit of G-d, with wisdom, understanding and knowledge, and every labor.” [35:31] HaShem filled both Betzalel and his assistant, Oholiav, “with a wise heart.” [35:35]

And this, we see, was the criteria which distinguished those able to build from those who were not. “Everyone with a wise heart among you, HE shall come and do all the work.” “And Betzelel, and Oholiav, and every man with a wise heart, whom HaShem has given wisdom and understanding in these things to know to do all the Holy work, all that HaShem has commanded, they shall do it.” [36:36] The Holy work was done by those gifted with a wise heart.

Concerning those who donated, however, the Torah uses a different description: “And everyone whose heart lifted him, and everyone whose generous spirit moved him, they brought the gifts of HaShem for the construction of the Tent of Meeting, and for all its work, and for the Holy garments. The man came with the women, everyone with a generous heart brought… ” [35:21-22]

In both verses, we see a reference to a generous spirit or a generous heart. But “everyone whose heart lifted him” seems redundant. Are they not the same ones “whose generous spirit moved him?”

The Ibn Ezra tells us that those “whose heart lifted him” are different — “these are the ones with a wise heart,” the same ones who did the work itself, “and the explanation is that he had an elevated heart.” According to the Torah, to have a wise heart, to have wisdom as compared to mere intelligence, is to have “an elevated heart.” And so we see later, “And all the women whose heart lifted them in wisdom, they spun the goat hair.” [35:26]

It isn’t enough to have intelligence — one must also have wisdom. And wisdom, says the Torah, is synonymous with an elevated heart. An elevated heart is a heart that seeks good, a heart it seeks to _do_ good — and yet also has the ability to discern good from evil.

That is my Dvar Torah, so one who so wishes may stop here. But there is another point which I feel should be mentioned. Obviously, one can set out to do good, and not do good at all. This is not wisdom — but folly.

To take an example from current events: there is a movie from Israel called “Kadosh” which won an award at the Cannes Film Festival, and is now appearing in America. “Kadosh” is a fictional story, which purports to be set in the Orthodox Meah Shearim neighborhood in Israel. Many Jewish organizations have added this film to their schedules, as an award-winning example of Israeli artwork.

There is only one problem. The film was written by a secular Israeli, who said quite directly that in his opinion, there is a cultural war going on in Israel between the religious and secular. And this, he declared, was his weapon. His interest was not an accurate depiction of the Meah Shearim community, or merely to weave a tale. It was to forge a weapon, to arouse the non-Orthodox community’s ire and antipathy towards other Jews, simply because they happen to be Orthodox.

By any measure, he succeeded admirably. It matters not at all that his charicature of traditional Jewish life, Jewish attitudes towards marriage, and practical halacha are built upon entirely false premises — he manages to describe them in a believable way. A reviewer in the New York Times bought his description hook, line and sinker, writing that the “sort of oppression incurred by the women in Kadosh, of course, is not limited to ultra-Orthodox Jews,” obviously indicating that it is typical of Orthodoxy itself, built upon “a fear and loathing… that originates from a primitive notion of women’s bodies as essentially unclean.” Clearly the director of this movie tapped into a number of pre-existing myths and prejudices, and gave them a yet darker hue.

[In passing, I should point out that the New York Times received at least a dozen letters of which I am personally aware, and surely many of which I am not, concerning the obvious factual errors and simple slander in this review. Clearly, however “all the news that’s fit to print” does not include evidence of bigotry on the part of a Times writer.]

Now, obviously, when Jewish organizations show films, as when they do anything else, they are not simply trying to give you an opportunity to sit through a movie. They want you to be active Jewishly, to be involved in the Jewish community. They all believe in improving the world, and increasing love of other Jews.

It should be obvious that although this movie was created by a Jew and won awards, it remains the anti-Jewish propaganda it was designed to be, a work designed to increase hatred and discord. And I submit to every reader that showing this movie is obviously not a work of wisdom, the result of a wise and elevated heart. It is folly, and the result will be not the desired goal of the Diaspora Jewish organization showing the film — but that of the author.

May we merit to see more works of love and brotherhood, from ourselves and all our Jewish brethren, Holy work emanating from an elevated heart filled with wisdom.