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“And with him was Oholiab… a craftsman and a skilful workman and a weaver in colours” Exodus: 38:23
Having for the first time in 20 years renovated our home, I know the pleasure of, and frustration with, details. It is inevitable perhaps that some details become burdensome and others a joy. The process of creating a harmonious home is the substance of this week’s parashah.
Gone are the spectacular miracles, the drama of the exodus from Egypt and the awe of receiving the Torah; we are left to work with God to build a home together, both beautiful and functional. It is similar to the shift from the wedding celebrations to the joy of discovering your partner in the everyday machinations of life; discovering God in the details is extremely personal work.
Bezalel, the master-builder of the Tabernacle, is able to delegate the work to those who are both eager and skilled and to create this dwelling-place in both its entirety and its pedantic detail. This delegation resonates with the supposition that each of us has a particular vision of the world and gifts which might enable us to fulfil that vision.
On Friday night, an additional prayer after the blessing over the Shabbat candles reads: “May I merit to raise wise and understanding children… who enlighten the world with Torah, good deeds and all works in the service of God.” This is a treasured prayer, for it espouses the idea that God is not only interested in your Torah and your kind deeds, but in all endeavours which demonstrate your capacities in creating a more Godly world. The details matter, your participation matters — together they bring a careful and considered service of God. This last sidrah in Exodus reminds us that although our grand experiences have surely marked us, it is our personal eye for detail which builds us.