Finally, I had a little time on Friday to peruse the parsha. But then my company arrived, and I didn’t have time until now to write a post. Instead of coming up with one in depth dvar torah, however, I am jotting notes of what would be interested to explore more:
– Counting at the beginning of the parsha. Why men counted and not women?
Rabbi Buchwald writes: “since the Jewish women did not participate in the sin of the Golden Calf, they were exempt from giving their half shekel”.
– Lion of Zion writes about hokhmat lev, as possibly being a Hebrew word for art. I’m not sure about this. It’s kind of like elevating all art to the level of Betzalel, who built the mishkan along with other artisans and were imbued by God with a divine spirituality to do this craftsmanship. I’m hoping Lion of Zion will write more on this topic.
– If you have 51 minutes, you can listen to an in-depth podcast about different levels of the Torah by Esther Wein. She’s a good speaker. At a basic level, for example, you shouldn’t take the law into your own hands and murder. At another level, you don’t want to embarrass someone; it’s considered to be like murder. You have to listen to the shiur (lesson) for a while to hear her talk about Sugihara, who saved the Mir Yeshiva and many other Jews in World War II. He was dismissed from his post in his own lifetime, but posthumously he was honored.
– What are the בִּגְדֵי הַשְּׂרָד ? Rashi says they were used to wrap the items in the Mishkan when traveling. Somewhere I saw a discussion of the word ‘sered’; if I find it again, I will add a note here. Sered often means remnant.
– My father talked about how Moshe breaking the luchot, the tablets of the ten commandments, was Moshe’s greatest deed. Perhaps because Moshe did not want God to destroy B’nei Yisrael because of the Golden Calf, and by breaking the luchot he was teaching them a lesson and allowing them to do t’shuva and therefore saving them? (this one is really just a note to remember what my father told my husband and me on Shabbat).
– A fragment of a note: the word herut as engraving the tablets, relating the luchot to freedom (from my husband, who doesn’t remember the source).
– I have become a big fan of Avigdor Bonchek’s What’s Bothering Rashi series. On this parsha, he explains the insight of the Ramban on Betzalel. Betzalel, who had been a slave in Egypt, was considered a wonder as he mastered silver, gold, precious stones, wood carving, embroidery and weaving! God inspires this recently freed slave with uncanny God-given talents to build the mishkan.
Both Avigdor Bonchek and Nechama Lebowitz explore Exodus 31:13:
אַךְ אֶת-שַׁבְּתֹתַי, תִּשְׁמֹרוּ: כִּי אוֹת הִוא בֵּינִי וּבֵינֵיכֶם, לְדֹרֹתֵיכֶם.
Note the word אַךְ (akh). This is a limiting word, meaning something should limited…is it the building of the Mishkan or keeping Shabbat? Rashi and Ramban disagree on this subject. Rashi says we do not build the Mishkan on Shabbat. Ramban says there are times we do not keep Shabbat; even Shabbat has limits. From this our Sages learned, for example, that in cases were a life may be at risk (pikuach nefesh) we may break Shabbat.
Finally, Nehama Lebowitz has a lot to say about כִּי קָרַן עוֹר פָּנָיו . “…the skin of his face became radiant…” Michelangelo and other artists gave Moshe horns because of a mis-translation of this pasuk. Maybe by next year I will actually take the time to read this chapter, which she entitled: Moses Was Unaware His Face Shone.