"See, the Eternal has endowed him… with a divine spirit of skill" Exodus 35:30-31


It is said that Michelangelo could look at a quite ordinary block of marble and see within it something exceptional - an exquisite statue of Moses, David or even Apollo. Michelangelo claimed that he was merely the channel for God's magnificence, that his hammer and chisel were driven by divine inspiration; in his own words, "every beauty which is seen here below by persons of perception resembles more than anything else that celestial Source from which we all come".

Michelangelo was not the first artist to be so inspired by the Creator. In this week's parashah, Bezalel, the foremost artisan in the creation of the Tabernacle, is recorded as gaining inspiration from the spirit of the Eternal. The menorah and other sacred items that Bezalel fashions from solid blocks of metal are both visually magnificent and a testament to humanity's potential. Ibn Ezra, the 12th-century commentator, suggests that Bezalel would devise designs in his mind that had never before been seen.

For those of us who enjoy the arts, there is nothing quite like encountering something so new and profound that it blows us away. Whether it's a musical score or an art installation, that magical moment when one gasps or sighs may well be as close as we can get to a glimpse of the Divine. Sadly, not all of us are equipped with great artistic skills; we can appreciate but fail to emulate. So how can we participate in this holy endeavour? Perhaps the wonder of the Creator is not just seen in great works of art, perhaps each of us has a small amount of potential too; for whenever we feel inspired to perform an act of kindness, no matter how small, we are also creating and enhancing beauty within this world.

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