For the last ten years, it has been my privilege to provide Derech Tsofeh – The Path of the Scout to Scouts and Scouters in many parts of the world. This d’var Torah will be my last installment. Thank you to everyone who read Derech Tsofeh, and especially to our many contributors and to some very special supporters: former National Jewish Committee on Scouting chairman Bruce Chudacoff and chaplain Rabbi Peter Hyman, who helped me get it started; Alan Smason, Stephen Shore, and others working with the Committee’s social media who facilitated its online publication; and sons Jordan and Adam, who guided me for several years in writing about Torah, and Brian, who showed me how social media could be an effective tool for providing Torah to our Scouts. Prior Derech Tsofeh are available at the National Jewish Committee on Scouting’s website: www.jewishscouting.org. I appreciate each of you who have accompanied me on this path – I’ll see you at the end of the trail.
This week’s parasha, Vayakhel, is the last of the three Torah portions where we learn about the construction of the Mishkan – the Tabernacle – our place of worship during the Exodus and then in the Land of Israel until the Temple was built.
We read about the building team in this portion. The workers were the people themselves – all the Israelites brought the fabrics, animal skins, metals and jewels that would be needed, until there was more than could be used.
The work was supervised by two men from very different backgrounds. The principal architect was Bezalel (“in the shadow of God” or “under the protection of God”). Bezalel was the grandson of Hur, an assistant to Moses, and the great-grandson of Miriam, Moses’ sister and herself a prophet. He was skilled in all kinds of crafts. He came from the aristocracy of Israel, the tribe of Judah. His assistant was Oholiab (“tent of my father” – he was building the tent for The Father). Oholiab was from the very modest tribe of Dan. So we see that Jews from all walks of life gave leadership to building the Tabernacle.
A very interesting fact for us is that Bezalel was 13 when he directed the building of the Tabernacle, according to the Talmud (Sanhedrin, 69b). But age didn’t matter, because God had chosen Bezalel for this work, and “filled him with Godly spirit, with wisdom, with understanding, and with knowledge, and with every craft.” God also “gave him the ability to teach … .” (Exodus, 35:31, 34).
That would have made quite an Eagle project – building the Tabernacle!
God has also filled you “with spirit, with wisdom, with understanding, and with knowledge.” Perhaps not with every craft, but God has given you talents and the ability to do things. Bezalel used his God-given gifts to create a place where the Israelites could worship God. How can you use your gifts to help people?