Rabbi Frand on Parshas Vayakhel-Pekudei
These divrei Torah were adapted from the hashkafa portion of Rabbi Yissocher Frand’s Commuter Chavrusah Tapes on the weekly portion: Tape # 275, Electricity In Halacha.
What Seems Futile In The Near Term May Have Long Term Results
In this week’s reading there is a pasuk [verse] (similar to one found in Parshas Ki Sisa) which reads “See, G-d has designated with a name (karah b’shem) Betzalel son of Uri son of Chur” [Shemos 35:30]. Betzalel was the “general contractor” of the Mishkan. Each time he is introduced, the Torah makes a point of tracing his lineage both to his father and his grandfather. Chur, Betzalel’s grandfather, was the individual who stood up and objected vociferously to the construction of the Golden Calf. He paid for this protest with his life; Chur was killed. This was, in fact, one of the sobering factors that caused Aharon to go along with the request to make a Golden Calf.
It would seem that Chur sacrificed his life in vain. Nothing was accomplished by his death. He tried to stop the Jewish People from making the Golden Calf, but they killed him and made it anyway. By repeatedly tracing Betzalel’s lineage back to Chur, the Torah is emphasizing that Chur did not die in vain.
Our Sages say that the reason why Betzalel was chosen to build the Mishkan was because he was b’tzel – kel (in the shadow of G-d). He was not chosen as a result of being the Frank Lloyd Wright of his generation. We do not have any indication that Betzalel was a great architect or artisan, one who innately possessed all the talents that his job required. What Betzalel did have was an unbelievable attachment to G-d. Such an attachment to G-d is necessary in order to create a place in this world that will be a Residence for the Divine Presence (haShra-as haShechinah).
Where did Betzalel obtain this quality of b’tzel – kel? By taking his genealogy back to Chur, the Torah emphasizes that these qualities did not come from just anywhere. They are qualities that he inherited from his grandfather. That quality that Chur exhibited — a willingness to give his life (be moser nefesh) for G-d’s Honor — was transferred through his son Uri to his grandson Betzalel.
We always tend to consider the “bottom line”: Did Chur accomplish anything or not? Did he or did he not prevent the sin? Based on this narrow evaluation, Chur was a failure. They made the Golden Calf anyway. However, that narrow view is based on our view of the world. In G-d’s world, that is not the end of the story. A grandfather’s dedication and sacrifice (mesiras nefesh), which during its time may have been seen as futile, may still have major impact on the potential accomplishments of future generations.
Moreover, our Sages say that the Mishkan was an atonement for the sin of the Golden Calf. This atonement was brought about through the efforts of Betzalel, who himself came from Chur. Thus, Chur was ultimately responsible for the atonement for the sin that he tried to stop. Ultimately, Chur did stop the Golden Calf — he stopped its effect, by providing for its atonement.
The lesson of this verse is that we should not always look for instant success. We live in a society where even “FedEx Overnight Delivery” is no longer acceptable. “Fax it to me, now!”
However, that is not how G-d operates. Success is not evaluated instantaneously. Chur’s accomplishment was not perceived at the time, but Chur did, in effect, provide the atonement for the sin of the Golden Calf.
This is the reason for the emphasis on the word “Re-uu” (See) which introduces Betzalel. Re-uu means – think about it; SEE how life sometimes works.
Sunken Gates Will Be Appended to Prefabricated Third Temple
The pasuk says “Tavu b’Aretz She-areha…” [Eicha 2:9] — the gates of the Beis HaMikdash, the Temple, were hidden away, sunken into the ground, before the Temple itself was destroyed. For some seemingly inexplicable reason, G-d allowed the entire Beis HaMikdash to be destroyed, but left the doors intact. This requires explanation.
Furthermore, the last 5 parshios — Terumah, Tezaveh, Ki Tisa, VaYakhel and Pekudei — have been dealing with the mitzvah of “You shall make for me a Sanctuary and I will dwell therein” [Shemos 25:8]. Apparently, this is a mitzvah that none of us will ever have the opportunity to fulfill. Even if, G-d willing, we will live to see the coming of Moshiach, it seems that we will still not be able to fulfill this commandment. The reason for this is because our Sages tell us that the Third Beis HaMikdash will descend from Heaven – theoretically complete. This would appear to mean that in His Kindness, G-d is removing this mitzvah from us. G-d will do it for us! If so, what are _we_ going to do? Is G-d not going to allow us to participate in this Mitzvah at all?
The Maharil Diskin (1818-1898) teaches a beautiful insight. The Talmud says [Bava Basra 53b] “If a person builds a palace on the property of a deceased convert (who has no legal heirs), and then a second person comes along and establishes doors for the palace – the second person is the one who legally acquires the property.” The person who attaches the doors is considered to have built the structure. [The Talmud explains that piling bricks one upon the other does not acquire the property beneath it. Only once one creates a complete enclosure is there an acquisition.]
Therefore – says the Maharil Diskin — G-d in His Mercy knew that He had to destroy the (Second) Beis HaMikdash, but He knew that ultimately he would send down a replacement (Third) Beis HaMikdash. In addition, G-d knew that by sending down a ready-made Third Beis HaMikdash He would be removing a mitzvah from the Jewish people. Therefore, He never destroyed the doors to the Second Beis HaMikdash.
In the future – may it come speedily in our days – the Third Beis HaMikdash will descend from Heaven, but it will be missing one thing. It will not have doors. The Jewish people will then attach the doors to the Third Beis HaMikdash. As a result, it will be considered as though we fulfilled the command of “You shall make for Me a Sanctuary”. This is the meaning of the prayer “Show us its building (har-eynu b’vinyono) and gladden us with its establishment (v’samchenu b’Tikuno)” [Festival Liturgy]. The “show us its building” refers to sending down the virtually completed Third Beis HaMikdash. But we will be disappointed. We will say “What about our obligation to perform the mitzvah of building the Beis HaMikdash?” To this G-d will respond: “Attach the doors”. We will then “establish” the Beis HaMikdash by attaching the doors and will be gladdened by its formal establishment and by the fact that we fulfilled the command of building it.
Such is the Kindness of our Father in Heaven. Even when he punishes and burns our Temple, He has the forethought that in the future – even if it may not be for over 2000 years – there will be provisions made for them to rejoice in their participation of the final establishment of the Third Beis HaMikdash.
Technical Assistance by Dovid Hoffman; Yerushalayim.
This write-up was adapted from the hashkafa portion of Rabbi Yissocher Frand’s Commuter Chavrusah Torah Tape series on the weekly Torah portion. The complete list of halachic topics covered in this series for Parshas Vayakhel-Pekudei are provided below:
- Tape # 047 – Pikuach Nefesh: To Save a Life
- Tape # 090 – The Melacha of Carrying.
- Tape # 138 – The Melacha of Tying Knots
- Tape # 185 – The Melacha of Writing
- Tape # 231 – Making A Siyum
- Tape # 275 – Electricity in Halacha
- Tape # 321 – Leap Year and the Second Adar
- Tape # 365 – The Melacha of Tearing
- Tape # 409 – The Melacha of Melabain (Laundering)
- Tape # 453 – Wearing a Watch on Shabbos
- Tape # 497 – The Tefillah of B’rich Sh’mei
- Tape # 541 – Learning Kabbalah
Tapes or a complete catalogue can be ordered from:
Yad Yechiel Institute
PO Box 511
Owings Mills, MD 21117-0511
Call (410) 358-0416 for further information.
Also Available: Mesorah / Artscroll has published a collection of Rabbi Frand’s essays. The book is entitled:
and is available through your local Hebrew book store or from Project Genesis, 1-410-654-1799.