SALT - Motzaei Shabbat, February 23, 2019

  • Rav David Silverberg
            The Torah identifies the artisan who oversaw the construction of the Mishkan as Betzalel, a member of the tribe of Yehuda (31:2, 35:30).  The Midrash (Shemot Rabba 40:4) comments that Betzalel was also known by five other names, which are listed in a pair of verses in Sefer Divrei Hayamim I (4:1-2) that name the members of the family of Yehuda’s son, Peretz.  Although the names mentioned in these verses appear to refer to different people, the Midrash views them as different names of Betzalel.
            One of these five names is Lahad, and the Midrash offers two possible explanations for the meaning of this name.  The first is “she-natan hod ve-hadar al Yisrael” – “that he brought glory and majesty upon Yisrael” by leading the construction of the Mishkan, which was their source of pride and granduer.  The second explanation is “she-ha-dal she-bi-shvatim medabeik lo” – “that the lowliest of the tribes attached to him.”  This refers to the fact that Betzalel, the lead artisan, was from the most distinguished tribe, Yehuda, whereas his assistant, Ohaliav, was from the smallest tribe, Dan (31:6, 35:34).
            Quite possibly, these two explanations of the name “Lahad” in reference to Betzalel are to viewed in conjunction with one another, and not as two separate, independent perspectives.  The “pride” and “majesty” brought by the Mishkan was due not only to the Shekhina’s presence, but also to the merging together of all the different tribes, all the various groups of Am Yisrael.  An integral part of the Mishkan, which made it worthy of the Almighty’s presence, was precisely the elimination of socioeconomic boundaries, the blending of Yehuda and Dan, the collective participation of all Benei Yisrael, irrespective of their background or social status.  From the Midrash’s perspective, glory and majesty are achieved not through exclusivity, by withdrawing and dissociating from those who are perceived to be on a lower stature, but to the contrary, through the merging of “Yehuda” and “Dan,” by looking past the artificial lines that separate between the different groups of Am Yisrael and creating a true bond with each and every member of the nation.