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Parshas Vayakhel 5771

Rav Pesach Siegel

Parshat Vayakel

Feb 25, 2011

Parshas VaYakhel 5771

And Moshe Rabeinu spoke to the Bnei Yisroel, “See, Hashem has called upon the name of Betzalel the son of Uri the son of Chur of the tribe of Yehudah. He has filled him with the spirit of Elokim, with chochmah, tevunah and da’as. He has granted him the ability to instruct others, him and Ahaliyav the son of Achisamach of the tribe of Dan.  He filled them with the chochmah of the heart.”

The construction of the Mishkan is to be supervised by Betzalel and Ahaliyav. Betzalel is from the greatest of the tribes, the tribe of Yehudah. Yehudah was the mightiest of the sons of Yaakov Avenu from his first wife Leah. Ahaliyav is descended from Yaakov through Zilpah, Rachel’s maidservant. They are considered equal to one another.

 Betzalel is blessed with Ruach Elokim, chochmah, tevunah and da’as, while Ahaliyav is filled with chochmah of the heart.


 If the descendants of Yehuda and Dan are considered equal, why does it appear that Betzalel is the more prominent of the two?

 Why is there a need for two representatives to supervise the construction?

 There are four tribes from which to choose from amongst the ones descended from the maidservants. Why is the tribe of Dan singled out?

 Background/Deeper Understanding

 The members of the tribes of Yehudah and Dan have been joined together on prior occasions.

 When the brothers stood accused of deceit, and Binyomin’s liberty was endangered, Yehudah roared like a lion. The sound of his mighty roar carried to the Land of Canaan, a distance of 400 parsah. It was heard by Chushim, the son of Dan. He raced to Mitzrayim to join his uncle Yehudah. He roared alongside him and the force of their voices caused the cities of Pis’om and Ra’amses to crumble and fall. 3

 The sons of Yaakov Avenu accompanied his funeral bier to the Land of Canaan. At the entrance to the Me’aras HaMachpela, they were accosted by Eisav HaRasha. He challenged them, and claimed sole ownership to the burial cave. They swiftly dispatched Naftali to the Land of Egypt to retrieve the ownership contract over the site. As they waited for his return, Chushim, who was hard of hearing, questioned the delay. When he understood that Eisav stood in the way of the burial of his grandfather, he snatched a staff and smote Eisav on the head. Eisav fell and Yehudah stood over him and killed him. 4

 What lies at the root of this partnership?

 The tribes of Yehudah and Dan share a unique bond. When Yaakov Avenu blessed his children before he departed from this world, He blessed Yehudah with the capabilities of a young lion (Gur Aryeh Yehudah). 5  Moshe Rabeinu granted the tribe of Dan the exact same blessing before he passed from this world (Dan Gur Aryeh). 6

 There is evidently a need for two lions amongst the Bnei Yisroel. The role of the two lions becomes clearer when examining the travels of the Bnei Yisroel throughout the desert.

 When it came time to travel, the tribe of Yehudah led. They were positioned at the front, in the East. The other tribes followed their lead. The tribe of Dan was positioned at the back. They were in charge of the weaker ones, the ones who would lag behind. If any items would be lost or forgotten, they would gather them up and return them to their owners. 7

 There is a lion of leadership, of courage, who stands on the forefront. He has the wisdom of vision and the power. He is on the front lines and is the first to encounter the enemy or any danger. The others follow behind. This is the lion of Yehudah.

 Then there is the lion that ensures that no one or anything is left behind, that the entirety of the people follow behind the leader. The lion of Dan is the one that finds a place for the weaker ones in the battle. They too are an integral part of the battle. They possess a hidden strength and the nation of Israel cannot hope to be victorious without all aspects of its strength, even the less obvious type of strength. All of Klal Yisroel must blend together, without a single exception. This is the power of Dan.

 It was always this way. When the Bnei Yaakov went down to Mitzrayim, Yehudah was sent ahead. The last one to enter Mitzrayim was Chushim the son of Dan. He ensured that the Bnei Yaakov would arrive intact in their entirety, and that nothing would be lost or left behind. 8


 While Moshe Rabeinu blessed Dan with the ability of a lion, Yaakov Avenu granted him the power of a snake. 9 (In fact, the numerical value of the name Chushim equals 358, which is the same gematria as nachash). 10

 The tribe of Dan is the lion of the lower elements in creation. They represent the potential in every member of Klal Yisroel to rise up and join together no matter how low they have fallen. As stated before, the tribe of Dan is in charge of returning “lost objects.”  They are the lions of the snakes.

 It was therefore incumbent upon Chushim to race to Mitzrayim was Binyomin was in danger of being taken from them. His task is to oppose all forces that would rip away pieces of Klal Yisroel. And, so, he was the last one to enter Egypt. He had to ensure that the nation stayed together in one unit, while Yehudah preceded him, leading them into Egypt.

 It was also Chushim who went up against Eisav. Eisav was attempting to prevent Yaakov Avenu from joining together with his ancestors, who are buried in the Me’aras HaMachpelah, thus blocking Yaakov’s entrance to his eternal rest amongst the other Avos of Klal Yisroel. Chushim ensured that Yaakov Avenu would join them and not be left behind.

 Eisav is constantly plotting to prevent the true identity of Klal Yisroel from emerging. The culture of Eisav is that the lowly physical components of a person cannot be elevated or sanctified. One who has fallen cannot hope to be restored.  It is only natural that Chushim would be the one to eliminate him. 11

 There is a two sided task beset upon mankind; to purge the world of all its evil, and to embrace holiness.

 Just as the lowest element of Klal Yisroel is not beyond salvation and is potentially capable of ridding itself of evil, so too, can this element have an irreplaceable part of building the structure that is to unite all of Klal Yisroel towards the pursuit of unity with our Creator.

 The very name Ahaliyav son of Achisamach represents this. The name Ahaliyav contains the word ohel, referring to G-d’s tent, and Achisamach means bringing brethren together (ach samach). 12

 Thus, there are two lions, one the more prominent one, from Shevet Yehudah, the other, no less important, from Shevet Dan. They join together, Betzalel leading with the Ruach Elokim, chochmah, tevunah and da’as, Ahaliyav, with the wisdom of his heart, ensuring that all are following, and all are included.

1 Perek 35, Posuk 30

2 Rashi, Perek 35, Posuk 34

3 Breishis Rabbah, Parshah 93, Piska 7

4 Meseches Sotah 13a, Tosafos, Meseches Gittin 55b

5 Breishis, Perek 48, Posuk 9

6 Devarim, Perek 33, Posuk 22

7 Rashi, Bamidbar, Perek 10, Posuk 25

8 Breishis Rabbah, Parshah 94, Piska 9

9 Breishis, Chapter 49, Posuk 17

10 Sefer Eitz Hada’as Tov, Parshas Toldos. There is an image of a pure celestial nachash engraved upon the throne of King Shlomo that represents the middah of din that rules over the impure snakes.

11 Maharal, Chidushei Aggados, Meseches Sotah

12 Kli Yakar

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