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Wisdom in the Heart

By: Mrs. Adina Mann

In the beginning of this week's double Parsha, we read about Bezalel and the wise men who come to build the Mishkan (Shmot 35:30-31 and 36:1):

Moses said to the children of Israel: "See, the Lord has called by name Bezalel, the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah. He has filled him with Godly spirit, with wisdom, insight, and knowledge, and with every craft….Bezalel and Oholiab and every wise hearted man into whom God had endowed wisdom and insight to know how to do, shall do all the work of the service of the Sanctuary, according to all that the Lord has commanded."

The striking question which arises here is what is the importance of this wisdom which is endowed upon Bezalel and the other men who build the Mishkan? We may have expected to hear more details about their artistic abilities, or about their spiritual personalities which made them fit for the job. Yet, instead there is an emphasis is the pesukim on wisdom.

In numerous places in Tanach (Yishayahu 11:2 and  Tehillim 37:30), wisdom seems to refer to the ability to decipher correct judgement without human influences; in other words, understanding G-d's objective truth. If this would be the understanding here as well, then we can deduce that Bezalel had the ability to see and understand beyond human influences, and this puts him on the spiritual plane to receive the job of building the vessels used in the Mishkan.

However, it does not seem that this was the full scope of Bezalel's wisdom. There is a Midrash (Bamidbar Rabba 15) which tells the story of Moshe Rabeinu going to shamayim to receive the instructions for building the Menorah. Every time Moshe went up to Hashem and came back down, he forgot the instructions. After a few times, Hashem showed Moshe what to do, yet Moshe still forgot when he came back down. Finally, Hashem told Moshe to go to Bezalel. Moshe went to Bezalel, and surely enough, Bezalel, who hadn't gone to Hashem for instructions, knew exactly what to do.

This tells us something magnificent about Bezalel. Rav Tamir Granot explains that Moshe was so close to Hashem that he did not know how to make the connection between the Godly model and the human fulfillment. Moshe could not bring that spirituality down to this world. Bezalel, however, had that ability. He built the Menora which represented the Godly model, but in a way which humans could grasp. Maybe this precisely was the wisdom which Bezalel possessed. On the one hand he could understand the spiritual realm, yet it didn't end there. He possessed the ability to bring something so spiritual down to the human world in a way that Bnei Yisrael could comprehend and appreciate.

On a similar note, R' Hirsch writes that the wisdom which Bezalel had was that of understanding symbolism, as each item was built with its own meaning. The symbolism is what brings humans to connect to the Mishkan and understand its holiness.

I believe that this is also the understanding of the "wise hearted men." This is not a typical wisdom as we usually understand, rather the wisdom is in the heart. This may mean that these wise men possessed a certain excitement and willingness (just as those whose hearts motivated them to contribute to the mishkan in Chapter 35), or it may means that these men possessed wisdom which was related to the heart; they had a heart for understanding people and bringing the spirituality into people's lives in a way they could understand.

While there is a big focus on spiritual and personal growth while learning Torah here in Israel, we should all merit to share our excitement for Torah while impacting the lives of those around us.