Bihaaloscha – Artists and Kings

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One of our fundamental beliefs of trust in Hashem is that we are expected to go through the motions of putting in our proper effort, but Hashem ultimately produces the results. This cannot be more evidently expressed than by the making of the menorah which is discussed in the beginning of this week’s Torah portion of Bihaaloscha. “Now this is how the menorah was made: it was hammered work of gold, hammered from base to petal. According to the pattern that Hashem had shown Moshe, so was the menorah made” (Bamidbar 9:4).

The Medrish Rabba relates in the name of Levi the son of Rebbe [Yehuda Hanasi] “…that a pure menorah came down from Heaven. For Hashem said to Moshe, ‘And you shall make a menorah out of pure gold’ (Shemos 25:31). [Moshe] asked, how do we make it? [Hashem] responded, you shall make it hammered [out of one piece]. Nevertheless, it was difficult for Moshe and he went down, and he forgot how to make it. He went up and said, my Master how do I make it? [Hashem] responded, you shall make it hammered [out of one piece]. Nevertheless, it was difficult for Moshe and he came back down, and he forgot. He went back up and said, my Master I forgot it. [Hashem] showed [the menorah] to Moshe and still it was too difficult for him. [Hashem] said to [Moshe], see and do, and He showed him a menorah made out of fire and showed him how it was made. Nevertheless, it was too difficult for Moshe. Hashem said to him, go to Betzalel and he will make it. [Moshe] told Betzalel and he immediately made it. [Moshe] started wondering why he was shown many times how to make it and he still couldn’t figure it out but Betzalel who never saw how to make it, still made it out of his own knowledge. [Moshe answered himself] that Betzalel was standing in the “shade of G-D” when Hashem showed me how to make it. Therefore, when the Holy Temple was destroyed, they hid the menorah. This was one of the  five things hidden, (a) the ark, (b) the menorah, (c) the fire [that came down from Heaven to lick up what was sacrificed on the alter], (d) Divine Providence (i.e. prophecy), (e.) and the keruvim [that were on top of the ark.] And when Hashem will return in His mercy and rebuild the Beis Hamikdash with its sanctuary, He will bring them back to their place in order to rejoice in Yerushalayim as it says, ‘Desert and wasteland shall rejoice over them, and the plain shall rejoice and shall blossom like a rose. It shall blossom and rejoice’ (Yeshayahu 35:1, 2).” (Click here for Hebrew text.)

The Rada”l perceptively points out that the reason it was difficult for Moshe to make it was in order to hint to us that even complete preparation from any person to place a place where one can instate upon it The Light of Heaven is not within the power of a complete person to perform by himself, as it says, if not for Hashem helping him etc. and this is why it was made by Betzalel who was given Divine intellect from on high to do all the work and not from his heart.
The Rada”l is clearly stating that Hashem purposefully had Moshe put in all his effort for naught and then Betzalel easily made the menorah in order to send the message that while it is worthwhile to try, which Moshe did and did not easily give up, however Hashem is the one that produces the results, especially when it comes to holy spiritual matters like building the menorah. Also, to clearly prove the point that only Hashem produces the results, He had Betzalel, who was not directly shown how to make the menorah, orchestrate making it.

The Maharz”u seems to have a different understanding of why Betzalel was able to make the menorah so easily but Moshe had a lot of difficulty. However, when scrutinizing this commentary one will see it is really the same theme as the Rada”l. The Maharz”u is very much bothered by  why Betzalel was referred to as standing in the “shade of G-D,” for in fact Moshe was in the “shade of G-D” on the mountain with Hashem and still didn’t know; so how did Betzalel know? Is it possible that he was more in the “shade of G-D” than Moshe who got closer than anyone else on the mountain? The Maharz”u answers that maybe when it says that Betzalel was in the “shade of G-D” it hints to a quality on a level in the matter of working on making the utensils of the mishkan. Betzalel had something more than Moshe had, for he was an artist (or architect) and it’s important to have in mind that Moshe was the king and he did not do anything by himself; rather all actions were done upon his command and direction. This was clearly indicated by all the work that Betzalel and the sages did, and also by the menorah. Nevertheless, the credit went to Moshe for building the mishkan, its utensils, including the menorah, as it says, “And the mishkan of Hashem that Moshe made in the desert.”
Moshe had reached the 49th level of wisdom, one notch below the perfection of all wisdom. He was certainly physically fit enough to make anything, for he assembled the mishkan all by himself, and he even knew how to do hands-on work, because he used to help his fellow Jews in the slave pits of Egypt to lighten their burden. Even though now he is king and almost all the jobs are done for him, it does not seem from the medrish that it was beneath his dignity to make the menorah; on the contrary he tried and failed four time! So, with all his knowledge and worldly experience, why did he fail?

The Maharz”u says it was because he was not an artist like Betzalel and he had plenty of responsibilities because he was the king and he would not have the time to figure out how to be an artist or architect. For Betzalel, it was natural and easy for him to make the menorah because Hashem gave him that artistic gift, to be good at working with his hands;, that was his purpose in life; he used it to the best of his ability. Moshe’s purpose was to be king, the authority over everyone else; so as much as he tried, he just didn’t have the feel of how to make the menorah since he wasn’t naturally an artist or architect. No matter how much wisdom and intellect Hashem granted Moshe He still didn’t give him the knack to sculpt things. Being artistic and handy just wasn’t Moshe’s purpose in life, so Hashem didn’t grant him that ability.

Moshe thought that with all his wisdom he might be able to figure it out since Hashem did command him to make it. So he put in all his efforts to try and not give up so easily, but it was not with in his natural talents to accomplish making the menorah. So ultimately, Moshe had to give it over to Betzalel and direct him to make the menorah since Hashem did grant Betzalel the talents to make it.

This too shows that we put in the efforts but ultimately Hashem causes the results to happen.