Zip Recruiter: Vayakhel 2019

by Adam J. Rosenbaum

Pre-Game Chatter: Have you ever been in charge of hiring someone to do a job? If so, what skills are most important to you? What character traits are most vital?

As the Israelites begin building the mishkan (portable Tabernacle), God goes to great lengths to explain the qualifications of the chief engineers:

The Pitch: “[God has inspired Bezalel] to give directions. He and Oholiab son of Ahisamach of the tribe of Dan have been endowed with the skill to do any work … as workers in all crafts and as makers of designs.” – Exodus 35:34-35

Swing #1: “Some scholars have a great deal of wisdom but keep it to themselves because they are either unwilling or unable to impart it to others. Hence the Torah found it necessary to stress that Bezalel and Oholiab had been endowed with both the ability and the will to teach and communicate their skill and knowledge to those willing to learn.” – Abraham Ibn Ezra

Swing #2: “There was no more elevated tribe than the tribe of Judah and no more lowly than the tribe of Dan, who was from among the sons of Jacob’s concubines … the Blessed Holy One said, ‘Let Oholiab come and work with Bezalel, lest the latter grow haughty – for the great and the lowly are equal before the Blessed Holy One.” – Tanhuma

Swing #3: “Natural talents and supernatural anointing of God to a task are not necessarily opposed to one another. On the one hand God did not choose unskilled workers and supernaturally enable them to do the job. On the other hand, Bezalel and Oholiab could not have been empowered and directed by the Spirit of God.” – Duane A. Garrett, A Commentary on Exodus

Late-Inning Questions: According to our commentators, in what ways were God’s “hiring choices” a signal to the rest of the Israelites? Why does God give reasons for empowering Bezalel and Oholiab, even though God never cites reasons why Moses is the leader of Israel and why Aaron is the High Priest? When is it fair to be expected to explain our decisions? Does God really need to explain this decision?

On-Deck at Emanu-El: This month, we will start outreach programs to area senior-living facilities. Please join Charleston JFS, Men’s Club, Sisterhood, and Rabbi Rosenbaum to open a portal to Jewish life for residents of these homes. To be added to the volunteer list, please contact Allan Benezra at or at 914-329-8336.

The Big Inning at the End: Speaking of explaining decisions, it’s going to be intriguing to find out (if we ever do) why Bryce Harper just signed a contract with the Philadelphia Phillies for less money per season than he would have received had he re-signed with the Washington Nationals. Obviously, he would have become a very wealthy man regardless, but to me, something doesn’t add up …

Shabbat Shalom!