April 24, 2024
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April 24, 2024
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This week’s parsha begins with an accounting of the materials used to build the Mishkan, as well as listing those specially involved in its construction: Moshe, Ohaliav and Bezalel.

Rashi notes that Bezalel uniquely was able to intuit what Hashem wanted, even when it wasn’t explicitly told to him. He quotes a Gemara that relays that Moshe initially told Bezalel to first build the keilim of the Mishkan, followed by the actual Mishkan itself. Bezalel questioned Moshe’s directive, reasoning that the general custom is to first build a house, and only then to build the furnishings that will go inside the structure. To this Moshe exclaimed, “You were in God’s shadow” (a reference to Bezalel’s name), because in fact God commanded the Mishkan to be built before the keilim.

While Bezalel’s response to Moshe makes a lot of sense, many mefarshim note a fundamental question on the text that remains. If in fact Hashem commanded the Mishkan itself to be built first, as Moshe says, why did Moshe command in Parshat Terumah the creation of the keilim first and then the Mishkan? The Maharal suggests that from a purely spiritual perspective, the furnishings in the Mishkan were more important than the structure of the Mishkan—as the keilim were the tools used to complete the Avodah. Therefore Moshe, who described the construction from a theoretical perspective, mentioned the keilim first, because of their central importance. However, Bezalel, whose role was to shift the instructions from the theoretical to the practical, understood that, practically, the Mishkan needed to be built before the keilim. Therefore, he corrected Moshe regarding the actual building.

Although this discussion between Moshe and Bezalel deals with the construction of a physical entity, there is much we can learn from their conversation regarding the importance of context and framework. Just as in the physical realm we must ensure that any objects we build have a space in which to place them, the same is true of ideas and values that we try to convey to others. If we have a powerful message to share, but those we share it with don’t have the internal space or ability to “hold” what we share with them, then the message will pass them by, having no effect.

I believe that this message is extremely important for us in parenting, in a couple of ways.

Firstly, we must realize the significance of a child’s early years—when he is a baby, toddler and young child. These are years when developmentally, cognitively and emotionally, much of the foundation of our child’s character is formed. It’s during these years that we have the opportunity to shape the outer contours of who our child will be, the overall base of who he will become, and what he will be capable of receiving and internalizing. Our focus at this point should be much more on creating the structure of our child, and less on the content within. If we’re successful during these years at forming and shaping him, then he will be primed and prepared to receive all the lessons, ideas and messages that we strive to inculcate within him. If, however, we fail to develop his foundation properly, then later when we strive to transmit messages and life lessons to him he may not be able to receive and maintain those messages—as we failed to help him become the vessel capable of receiving what we strive to give over.

Secondly, at all stages in our children’s development—throughout both childhood and adolescence—we must ensure that the messages and lessons that we teach our kids, as well as the expectations that we have of them, are appropriate for their age and maturity level. We must determine whether each child, at his current age and maturity level, can receive and “hold” our advice and/or expectations. If we try to push ideas or expectations that our children are not capable of internalizing, for whatever the reason, then not only will we be unsuccessful at conveying those messages to our child, but it may hurt our child—similar to trying to fit a large piece of furniture within a small area. Not only does it not fit, but the effort to stuff it in causes damage to the outer structure as well.

We may be tempted to argue, like Moshe, that the messages and values that we want to impart to our children are really the ikar, the most important, from a religious perspective—and therefore they should be the focus of our efforts. However, as Bezalel correctly pointed out, while Moshe’s logic was correct theoretically, practically it was fundamentally flawed. As important as the keilim of the Mishkan were, without a proper structure to house them they have no significance. Similarly, as important as the values that we want to impart to our children are, if our children are not old enough, mature enough, or developed enough to accept what we have to teach them, then they will have no impact.

As Am Yisrael comes together to build the Mishkan, Moshe and Bezalel debate the relationship and dynamic between a structure and the contents that it contains.
This discussion has tremendous importance, both in the physical and spiritual realm—and is extremely relevant for us as parents, looking to properly raise the next generation.

Shabbat Shalom!


Rav Yossi Goldin is the menahel tichon at Yeshivas Pe’er HaTorah, rebbe at Midreshet Tehilla, and placement adviser/internship coordinator for the YU/RIETS Kollel. He lives with his family in Shaalvim and can be reached at [email protected].

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