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ויעש בצלאל את הארון עצי שיטים ... ויצפהו זהב טהור מבית ומחוץ

Betzalel made the Aron of Shittim/Acacia wood … He covered it with gold within and without. (37:1,2)

The Aron Hakodesh represents Torah and its disseminators. Torah is the lifeblood of our people. Thus, the Aron received special status within the framework of the Mishkan. It was a box constructed of wood, which was covered inside and outside with gold. All one saw was the gold. While the Torah scholar receives enormous esteem (or should) from the ha’mon am, general community, the wood is a reminder to him not to allow the accolades to make him lose sight of his inner essence. Humility should prevail over external praise. Rabbeinu Chananel views the arrangement of gold on wood as…

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כל איש ואשה אשר נדב לבם אותם להביא לכל המלאכה ... הביאו בני ישראל נדבה לד'

Every man and woman whose heart motivated them to bring for any of the work… Bnei Yisrael brought a free-willed offering to Hashem. (35:29)

Upon reading the pasuk, one is struck by its redundancy. What is the difference between kol ishv’ishah, every man and woman, and Bnei Yisrael? Are they not one and the same? The Chida, zl explains this with a pertinent analogy. Often a shul has an appeal on Shabbos for badly needed funds to support an important project. In the heat of the announcement, people tend to get carried away and, wanting to “keep up with the Joneses,’” pledge more than they would normally give. At first, the donor is very proud of himself. After all, everyone else, even the wealthy…

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והנשיאם הביאו את אבני השהם ואת אבני המלואים לאפוד ולחשן

The Nesiim brought the shoham stones and stones for the settings for the eiphod and the Choshen. (35:27)

Rashi notes that, concerning the Chanukas HaMizbayach, dedication of the Altar, the Nesiim were the first to bring their donations. With regard to the donations for the Mishkan, however, they waited, saying, “We will donate whatever is needed to complete the Mishkan once the people have given their part.” They waited too long, underestimating the zeal with which the nation came forth to donate. Thus, all that was left for them to donate was the setting stones. As a ramification of their waiting too long, a letter (yud) is missing from their name. Chazal give a number of reasons for…

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ויעש בצלאל את הארון

Betzalel made the Aron. (37:1)

Rashi makes an insightful comment which gives us pause, “Because Betzalel put himself out for this task more than the others, it bears his name.” Chazal teach that the origins of Betzalel’s devotion, his mesiras nefesh, self-sacrifice, were in his character, in his DNA, transmitted from his grandfather, Chur. The acts of Betzalel and Chur appear to be token varied expressions of mesiras nefesh: Chur giving up his life to prevent the Golden Calf from achieving fruition; Betzalel’s punctilious devotion to the building of the Sanctuary in which the Divine Presence would repose. These acts qualified each of them for…

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ראו קרא ד' בשם בצלאל בן אורי בן חור

See, Hashem has proclaimed by name, Betzalel ben Uri ben Chur. (25:30)

As the result of his attempt to prevent the nation from their treasonous act of creating and worshipping the Golden Calf, Chur, son of Miriam and grandfather of Betzalel, the worshippers of the Golden Calf murdered him. For his unequivocal act of mesiras nefesh, self-sacrifice, Chur received a posthumous reward to see his grandson be chosen as the architect of the Mishkan – which incidentally atoned for the sin of the Golden Calf. This explains why Hashem selected Chur, but why was Moshe Rabbeinu not selected to oversee the building of the Mishkan? Moshe had toiled for forty days and…

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ראו קרא ד' בשם בצלאל בן אורי בן חור למטה יהודה

See, Hashem has called by name, Betzalel ben Uri ben Chur from the tribe of Yehudah. (35:30)

The Midrash Tanchuma (Vayakhel 1) teaches: “Every time a man increases his good deeds (and mitzvos), he adds to his good name. You find that a man is known by three names: the name which his father and mother call him; the name by which other men call him; and the name he earns for himself. Proof of this is Betzalel, who was granted the privilege of building the Mishkan because he had earned a good name. What is the source of this idea? From the name He called him: ‘See, Hashem has called by name, Betzalel.’ (Which can be…

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ויבאו האנשים על הנשים

The men came with the women. (35:22)

The Ramban interprets al ha’nashim, with the women, as indicating that the men were ancillary, secondary to the women. The jewelry detailed in this pasuk was primarily women’s jewelry. As soon as they heard the call for donations, the women came to donate. Targum Onkeles translates al ha’nashim as, on the women, implying that the women came bedecked in their expensive jewelry, removed it there, and donated it to the Mishkan. Why did they remove their jewelry only after they arrived at the area designated for donations? Horav Moshe Feinstein, zl, explains that the women sought to convey the message…

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ששת ימים תעשה מלאכה וביום השביעי יהיה לכם קדש

On six days work may be done, but the seventh day shall be holy for you. (35:2)

Shabbos is much more than one of the 613 mitzvos. It attests to Hashem as the Creator of the world. We rest in recognition of Hashem’s “resting” from Creation. We tend to gloss over another element of Shabbos. Chazal (Bereishis Rabbah 2) relate: “The Shabbos came before Hashem and said, ‘Everyone has a partner, but I do not.’ Hashem replied, ‘Knesses Yisrael is your partner.’ When Klal Yisrael stood at Har Sinai, Hashem said to them, ‘Remember the Shabbos to keep it holy.’” Each of the six days of the work week is considered a “work day,” a day of…

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ראו קרא ד' בשם בצלאל בן אורי בן חור

See, Hashem has proclaimed by name, Betzalel, ben Uri, ben Chur. (35:30)

It was necessary for Moshe Rabbeinu to announce that Hashem had selected Betzalel, his sister’s grandson, to be the Mishkan’s chief artisan. As a result, the usual malcontents, who derive their greatest pleasure from finding fault and expressing their dissatisfaction, should be aware that it was Hashem’s decision – not Moshe’s. Why was Betzalel selected for this august position? Chazal (Tanchuma Vayakhel 4) explain that Hashem wanted to reward Betzalel’s grandfather, Chur, who had given up his life Al Kiddush Hashem when he stood up to the sinners that committed idol worship with the Golden Calf. Hailing from the tribe…

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ויבאו כל איש אשר נשאו לבו... ויבאו האנשים על הנשים... וכל איש אשר נמצא אתו... וכל הנשים אשר נשא לבן

Every many whose head inspired him came… the men came with the women… every man with whom was found… all the women whose hearts inspired them. (35:21,22,23,26)

Horav Yeshaya Pik, zl, posits that these pesukim address four types of donors. (Charitable donations usually fall under the rubric of these four circumstances.) Some men/husbands will not donate before going home and speaking it over with their wives. This type of husband is in a situation in which their bank accounts are joint, and his wife has a dominant role in the home (as it should be). Therefore, whatever money goes out must have her acquiescence. Concerning this type of man, the Torah writes: “The men came with the women.” These men had their wives’ consent. Next is the…

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