Makers of the Found Ark: Vayakhel-Pekudei 2020

by Adam J. Rosenbaum

Pre-Game Chatter: How can we collaborate with others when we practice social distancing? What emotional and intellectual tools are you using in order to connect with others?

As we forge ahead in the midst of a global pandemic, an example from our Torah portions might give us some insight:

The Pitch: “Bezalel made the ark of acacia wood, two and a half cubits long, a cubit and a half wide, and a cubit and a half high.” – Exodus 37:1

Swing #1: “Whereas with all the other objects, Betzalel presumably limited himself to more or less directing and guiding the other works, the ark he made with his own hands; for it is the principal object for which the whole sacred Dwelling Place was erected.” – Samson Raphael Hirsch

Swing #2: “Betzalel’s achievement, while great, is not comparable to that of the Creator. He makes the Mishkan from a plan, with the help of thousands of Israelites, from materials donated by the entire community. As we have insisted throughout, it is a collective effort. (In fact, the classical commentators all state that the reason for the second presentation of Betzalel by Moshe is that the community must assent in his appointment as the chief craftsman.)” – George Robinson, Essential Torah

Swing #3: “Now, how old was Betzalel when he made the Tabernacle? Thirteen years, for it is written, ‘And all the wise men, that wrought all the work of the Sanctuary, came every man from his work which they made’ (Exodus 36:4).” – Sanhedrin 69b

Late-Inning Questions: Given what our commentators taught, how can we evaluate Betzalel’s contribution to the building of the Tabernacle? How much credit should he get? Is he able to get help from other Israelites when he needs it? When is it necessary to ask for help from others during a trying time?

On-Deck at Emanu-El: Please join us online today at 5:00PM ET for some pre-Shabbat singing, and tomorrow night at 8:30PM for Havdallah. Go to to log in.

Shabbat Shalom, and stay safe!