Rabbi Yosil Rosenzweig
e-mail rebiyosil@earthlink.net

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1st Torah - Shemot (Exodus) 38:21-40:38
2nd Torah - Maftir - Shemot (Exodus) 12:1-20
Haftorah - Ezekiel 45:16-46:18

The Shabbat before the month of Nisan is very special to the Jewish people. For it is the anniversary of our nation readying ourselves to become a nation regulated by Divine laws. Though the Israelites had taken on various customs prior to the exodus, the first G-d given commandment to our nation as a whole, was to establish and sanctify a lunar calendar with the first month always timed to the spring season.

Since the lunar calendar is 11 days shorter than the solar calendar, no given month will always be linked to a specific season. This calendar is therefore unique to the Jewish people and on the Sabbath before the month of Nissan - the spring month - we recall this by reading our Maftir from Shemot 12:1-20 which reviews the 1st commandment.

Therefore, this Shabbat is also called PARSHAT HACHODESH (the portion of the [new] month). We remove two Torah's from the Ark. From the first, we call seven Aliyot from the weekly (and double) portion of Vayak'hel/Pikudey, then from the 2nd Torah we read the above mention Parasha. Also, a special Haftorah is read.

Our unique calendar which represents the waxing and waning of the both the moon and our people, has also been an object of scorn. One of the decrees made by the Greeks that led to a revolution was their forbidding us to use our special calendar. Eventually the Chashmonayim led Israel in a revolt against the Greeks and the Greek-Hellenists symbolized by the holiday of Chanukah.


In the VORTIFY of Parshat Shemot (990117) I dealt with names. This week I would like to add another dimension to those thoughts. The Midrash says that a person has three names:

1. The name given at birth

2. The name people call him/her

3. The name that one chooses for oneself (the name that one earns).

This third category, one's reputation, is the most important of the three. How one is referred to by society, designates the very essence of one's being.

Verse 22 of chapter 38 teaches us that:

"Betzalel ben Uri ben Chur of the tribe of Yehuda, did all that Hashem had commanded Moshe."

Rashi comments:

"[It doesn't say that] Betzalel did all that was commanded," rather it says that he did "all that Hashem commanded Moshe..." [Through the power of Ruach Hakodesh (the Holy Spirit), his mind was in sync with Moshe, and therefore he understood all] the commands that were given only to Moshe on Mt. Sinai. Moshe actually commanded Betzalel to make the furnishings first and the Mishkan afterwards. But Betzalel said to him, "It is common practice to first build the house and then to fill it with furnishings." Moshe then said to him, "So (as you said) I hear from the mouth of the Holy One Blessed Be He." Moshe went on and said, "Betzel E-l Hayita - You were in G-d's shadow, for indeed, that is what the Holy One Blessed Be He, had commanded me."

That is what Betzalel did; first [he built] the Mishkan, and afterwards he made its furnishings.

Betzalel was given his name at birth by his father Uri, but, Betzalel was also the name that he was known by - it was his reputation "Betzel E-l Hayita - You were in G-d's shadow."

Shlomo Hamelech (King Solomon) says in Kohelet (Ecclesiastes) 7:1;

"Tov Shaym Mishemen Tov, (A good name is better than precious oil) V'yom Hamavet M'yom Hivaldoh, (and the day of death, is better than the day of one's birth)."

Shlomo Hamelech teaches us that the aroma of precious oil does not leave the room where it is contained. But the reputation that one leaves in this world can transcend time and even the heavenly spheres. (That is why Betzalel is called Betzalel ben Uri AND ben Chur - his grandfather Chur merited mention because he was murdered while protesting the worship of the Golden Calf).

We are taught in Pirke Avot (The Ethics of our Fathers) 4:17;

Rabbi Shimon said: There are three crowns - the crown of Torah, the crown of the priesthood, and the crown of majesty; but the crown of a Sheym Tov - a good name - surpasses them all.

The House of Aharon inherited the crown of the priesthood, the House of David inherited the crown of majesty, and all of us are capable of inheriting the crown of Torah. However, in order to inherit any of the crowns, we must first build a name for ourselves. Unless a king, priest, or scholar's crown is supported by a good name and a good reputation, his crown is meaningless.

Parshat Pekudey reviews the various components of the Mishkan (tabernacle) built by Betzalel. It discusses how the boards, curtains, sockets and pegs were assembled and the details about the articles of clothing worn by the High Priest. All of these components were used L'kavod U'litiferet (for the honor and the beauty) of Hashem's Glory.

In Shemot 25:8 Hashem says:

"Asu Li Mikdash - V'shochanti B'tocham (make Me a sanctuary - and I will dwell among THEM)."

This sanctuary is not only the dwelling place of Hashem but it is the vehicle that Hashem uses to dwell in the heart and soul of every one of us. I would like to draw an analogy between the building of the Mishkan and the building of a human being.

In mystical literature a human being is called a "Olam Kattan (a miniature world);" also in mystical teaching is the concept of the ten Sefirot (mystical spheres). The first three and highest of the Sefirot, represent the full force of Hashem's power, they are:

1. Chochma (wisdom)
2. Bina (insight)
3. Da'at (knowledge)

Chapter 31 verse 3 states that Hashem instilled in the master builder of the Mishkan, Betzalel ben Uri ben Chur of the tribe of Yehuda:

"I [Hashem] have filled him with a G-dly spirit, with Chochma (wisdom) U'vitevuna [the word is a derivative of Bina] (and insight) U'vida'at (and with knowledge)..."

By instilling Betzalel with Chochma, Bina and Da'at, Hashem gave all of us the ability to serve Him beyond our ordinary human potential. These three traits are also stages of human development. But we can take the raw material of knowledge in each of us and develop it into a Mishkan where Hashem could dwell.

Chochma, wisdom is the dissemination of information. We teach a child not to play with matches because fire can harm, we also take in information that must be applied to our lives. So really, just facts are not enough. We need to understand the passions of our nature in order to conquer those passions that may be harmful. We must study both secular and religious wisdom. And to grow as Jews, we must study more than just laws, but also the various personalities in the Torah, so that we can learn from them and apply the law properly.

The Talmud (Megillah 28b) relates that when Rebbi Nachman was asked to eulogize a Jew who had memorized all of the known Talmudic literature, he replied:

"How can I eulogize him; can I say that we have been deprived of a basket full of books?"

Rashi explains that the man only memorized the information but did not really understand it.

Bina, insight, is the application of wisdom. In Hebrew, this application of wisdom is called a Chidush (a new relationship or insight into the matter). Only one who is blessed with Bina and has arrived at this second stage of understanding can be called a Chacham (a wise person).

Once a Roman came to Hillel to be converted, but with a stipulation. He said teach me the Torah while I balance on one foot. Hillel replied, "don't do to others what you would not have them do to you. The rest is commentary, go and learn."

A mature Jewish personality cannot be stagnant, knowing only what others have taught, but never striving to reach beyond his own learning, into insight. That is the essence of Bina.

Da'at is true knowledge, as it says in Isaiah 11:9:

"...for the earth will be filled with the [Day'ah] knowledge of Hashem, just as the waters fill up the seas."

When knowledge is based on both Chochma and Bina, it fills the trough of one's soul, just as the waters fill up the seas. Water has the unique ability to take on the shape of the vessel that contains it. So too, does Hashem's presence fill us with His spirit.

Using the example of Betzalel in our Parsha, we can find an avenue to allow Hashem to get inside ourselves. We must come together in spiritual growth and build a Mishkan wherein He can dwell.

"Asu Li Mikdash - V'shochanti B'tocham (make Me a sanctuary - and I will dwell among THEM)."

Let us hope and pray that the waters of Torah will fill our minds and bodies with His presence. May we blend wisdom, insight and the knowledge of Hashem properly and in the process develop reputations that may merit the Crown of a Good Name.

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Yosil Rosenzweig

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