Shadow of God
"Bezalel [Shadow of God], son of Uri, son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, made everything God had commanded Moses." - Exodus 38:22-23
Artists exist in the Shadow of God
We all do what we have to do to maintain our daily lives;
the mundane tasks of eating, sleeping, paying our bills
driving from one place to the other, the paperwork,
the errands, the chairs in front of our computer screens.
These are the essentials.
But when we engage in activities outside the essential,
art for example, we become hyper-aware of everything;
our mind and surroundings, our soul, and we're particularly
aware that what we are doing at the moment doesn't
need to be done to ensure our physical survival.
It is these artistic endeavors, these unessential tasks,
that give our lives a meaning beyond survival. We don't need
to write poems to exist, but when we do, we begin
to exist in an elevated way. We get higher and higher
with each piece of art we create, until soon, we are so
elevated, we reach the point necessary to exist in the
shadow of God, like Bezalel, who completed the Mishkan,
who created, with God's blueprints, a place for God do dwell
amongst us. We do this too, every time we paint, or sing, or
write, or draw, or build, we are elevated beyond the mundane.
We are doing so much more than having lunch
we are light years beyond balancing our check books
we are traveling one mile per hour down the road
noticing every detail of the journey
paying no attention to the destination
existing in the Shadow of God.
" and he [Moses] blessed them." - Exodus 39:43
"At every stage of their journey when the cloud lifted from the Tabernacle, the Israelites broke camp; but if the cloud did not lift from the Tabernacle, they did not break camp until it lifted." - Exodus 40:36-37
We are all Looking for Clouds of Smoke
These days of rain and mud in Los Angeles
We tend to associate clouds with weather,
weather we have no use for, an inconvenience,
closed roads and in the most unfortunate cases
destroyed homes and lost lives.
When a cloud hovered over the Mishkan,
the Israelites knew that God was there.
They wouldn't travel until it lifted, and then they too
would lift up their tents and continue the journey
to the home none of them had ever seen.
We are home now but still looking for clouds.
Wouldn't it be nice, something floating in the sky,
letting us know we are not alone, teaching us when
to go and when to stay? Perhaps there are different
signs now and we need to learn how to see them.
Perhaps our clouds are in the faces of our lovers,
our parents, our children. Maybe our cloud is the
satisfying glow after a good meal, a warm dry room
protecting us from the rain, telling us Stop, I'm here,
there's no need to travel anywhere now.
The Mishkan was beautiful, but today it is a memory.
We need to make our own holy place or at least
recognize when the cloud is there, whatever form it takes.
There are tiny miracles in our fingers and faces; even in the
rain. We are given Moses' blessing every day.
One thousand seven hundred and seventy-five shekels
was used to make hooks to hang posts. With that kind of
money, we'd have some pretty nice hooks in our house too.
Moses blessed all of the workers
after he saw what a good job they had done.
I like to give my guys pizza
which after a long days work
is just like a blessing.
Moses set up the Tabernacle, put all the sockets in place,
the planks and crossbars too, all because God commanded
him to do so. We hired a painter from Craig's List to paint our new
house and now there is paint on our new door knobs.
Never hire your own subcontractors.
At night there was fire in the sky over the Tabernacle.
These days, fire in the sky would lead to frantic phone calls,
home video being sold to Fox, and suspicions of conspiracy.
Back then, they wrote the Torah.
Chazak Chazak V'nitchazeik
We finish a book this week.
We will read this book again next year
and every year, for the rest of our lives.
It's that good of a book.
Prepared by Rick Lupert, assistant director, Hillel at Pierce and Valley Colleges
Additional commentaries and text studies on Pekuday at MyJewishLearning.com.