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   by Jacob Solomon

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G-d said to Moses... 'They shall make a sanctuary for Me, so that I may dwell amongst them' (25:1,8).

This Parasha contains details of the construction plans for the Israelite Tabernacle in the wilderness. But the selection and identity of the builder is only revealed two parashiot later on, with the completion of the building and dedication instructions:

G-d said to Moses: 'See, I have called Betzalel… by name, and filled him with a divine spirit with wisdom… to perform every craft in gold, silver, copper, stone cutting… and wood carving…' (31:1-5)

Yet in Parashat Vayakhel, Betzalel is introduced before the Torah narrates the actual construction of the Tabernacle. Here, by contrast, he does not come into the planning stage until the very end.

In response, perhaps one of the lessons that may be learnt from this arrangement may be applied to professional and domestic life - from the following parable. Recently, some of my students participated in a three-day Model United Nations (MUN) conference. With 35 participatory schools sending 'ambassadors' and 'delegates' from over fifty 'countries', it was a phenomenal feat, taking long hours and many months of highly skilled planning and organization.

A young man in the twelfth grade - his final year of high school - is approached in September by his Principal and asked if he would like to be act as secretary-general to the MUN for the forthcoming February. Delighted with the honor and opportunity, he replies: 'Yes!'

The next day, he is told to invite outside speakers of international repute to open and close the conference. He agrees, though he secretly doubts if he has the necessary tact and persuasion to get them to come along.

His mobile phone goes a few hours later. 'Would you arrange hotel accommodation and bus transfers for the participatory schools? And by the way, we need someone to design the invitations? Would you take that on as well? Oh - that reminds us… we haven't quite got round to contacting the schools we want to take part… send a brief note to each of them…'

By that time, he would be less than human if he didn't feel a little resentful. It is one thing to take the rostrum as secretary-general on the day. It is very different when additional duties, planning, and training activities are added on… and on…. and on… all taking time, and all requiring different skills.

G-d first revealed the entire Tabernacle - the details of construction, its holy significance, and its dedication procedures. Only when the whole procedure was 'on the table' did He select the person responsible: Betzalel - who G-d declared He 'filled with a wise spirit to carry out the multifarious tasks of the construction of the Tabernacle'.

Thus G-d enabled Betzalel to encompass his entire, very demanding duties as one whole picture. Not something which he would believe he had finished only to have the next duty, and the next, and the next… in a seemingly overwhelming chain. He would do so with good will, seeing from the outset how everything fits together in a grand project, rather than feeling the ambivalence which goes with an ever mounting pile of tasks.

This illustrates the virtue of showing a partner or employee the full extent of the venture and his involvement, so that he will not lose the initial goodwill he had on taking on the project - however holy and worthy it might be…

For those looking for more comprehensive material, questions and answers on the Parasha may be found at and on the material on the Haftara at .

Written by Jacob Solomon. Tel 02 673 7998. E-mail: for any points you wish to raise and/or to join those that receive this Parasha sheet every week.

Parashiot from the First, Second, and Third Series may be viewed on the Shema Yisrael web-site:

Also by Jacob Solomon:
From the Prophets on the Haftara

Test Yourself - Questions and Answers


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