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Parashah 22: Vayak'hel
("He Assembled")

by Michael Bugg

Torah:  Sh’mot (Exodus) 35:1-38:20

Haftarah:  M'lakhim Alef (1 Kings) 7:13-26 (S), 7:40-50 (A)

B’rit Chadasha:  1 Corinthians 12:4-11, 14:1-26

The Theme

When we think of Spiritual gifts, we tend to think about the overtly supernatural ones, like prophecy, tongues, healing, miracles, and discerning spirits.  But while we are indeed told to eagerly desire these "better giifts" (1Co. 12:31), the fact is that there are numerous other gifts that are just as important:  Teaching, administration, knowledge, wisdom, helps, mercy, prayer, art . . .   Yes, there is indeed a Spiritual gift of artistry, and without it, the Tabernacle could never have been built.

God gave this special gift to Bezalel the son of Uri and Oholiab, the son of Ahisamach, representing the largest and greatest of the tribes (Judah) and smallest of the tribes (Dan) respectively.  So great was the skill the Holy One gave them, that the rabbis said that they had been given knowledge of the very building blocks of the universe:  "Said R. Judah said Rab, 'Bezalel knew how to join together the letters by which the heaven and the earth were made'" (b. Berakhot 55a).  While this is, perhaps, and exaggeration, there is no doubt that the Eternal One gave them superlative skill; hammering a functioning menorah out of a single block of gold is no mean task!

Just as the Lord gave Bezalel and Oholiab the special skill to build His Tabernacle, so He gives each of us gifts to aid in the building up of His House.  We need to each put aside thoughts of jealousy or envy, but appreciate both our own gifts and those of others, putting them to the work that our King has given us:  "When you come together, each one of you has a psalm, has a teaching, has a revelation, has another language, has an interpretation. Let all things be done to build each other up" (1Co. 14:26). 




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