One of the greatest sins ever committed by a people occurs in this parashah reading. I am talking about the sin of the Golden Calf. And later on in this parashah, we are also given one of the greatest blessings we can receive when God shows himself to Moses and tells us who and what he is, which in Judaism we call The 13 Attributes of God’s Nature.
If you prefer to watch a video, click on this link: Watch the video.
We start this reading with God commanding that a census must be taken, and for everyone in the census, a half-shekel tax is to be paid. This tax was a ransom required for the taking of a life (not through murder), which was assumed to be necessary since this census was to know the size of the army, and everyone in the army would, at one time or another, probably take someone’s life.
God gives the formula for making the holy incense and other sanctuary items the worship of God requires.
All of this is happening while Moses is on the mountain. After some 40 days the people get worried and ask Aaron to make a god for them because they don’t know what has become of Moses (meaning, most likely, they think he is dead.) Aaron submits to them and when the calf is made, the people revel in paganistic worship. God tells Moses to get down and take care of this, and when Moses sees for himself what has happened, he becomes so mad he smashes the tablets God made for him, the ones with the 10 Words on them. He splits the camp into those who will follow God and those who reject him, and the Levites are the tribe that takes action to kill the ones who have sinned.
God says that he is fed up with these people and he will send an angel ahead of them, but he, himself, will not go with them. Moses intercedes and God relents, and this reading ends with Moses asking to see God’s glory, which God allows him to see. God passes before Moses but prevents Moses from seeing his face. It is just before he passes that God announces his nature, which lets us know exactly what he wants us to know about him.
Obviously, there is so much in this parashah I could spend a year discussing it…but I won’t. In fact, you may expect that I will talk about the Golden Calf, or maybe God’s nature, but that isn’t what I felt today’s message should be.
I want to talk about Bezalel and Oholiab. Actually, not about them, per se’, but about what God says regarding them. We read that God tells Moses in Exodus 30:1-3:
And the Lord spoke unto Moses, saying: “See, I have called by name Bezalel ……and I have filled him with the spirit of God, in wisdom, and in understanding, and in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship, …
and then later in Exodus 30:6:
And I, behold, have appointed with him Ohaliab, …and in the hearts of all that are wise-hearted I have put wisdom, that they may make all that I have commanded thee.
It should not come as a big surprise to anyone that the world refuses to see God’s influence within it. When I read about how God gave the skills and understanding to Bezalel and Oholiab, as well as other people, I thought about how we often talk about God’s intervention in our lives and give testimony to miraculous healings and other wonderful works of God in our life. These testimonies are always nice to hear, but what about when God intervenes and it isn’t miraculous? Have you ever thought that what you considered to be “normal” things was really God taking care of you?
I just underwent some kidney stone operations, and the Urologist was really great. As I am recovering and feeling 1,000% better, I am thanking God not just for helping me to heal, but also for the skills he gave the doctor to whom he led me. Not that an angel brought me in the spirit to the doctors’ office (which, I admit, would have been really cool!), but for the events that occurred before I got to the Urologist. I especially thank him for the doctor at the hospital where I had a CAT scan done who said I should go to a Urologist and recommended one to me.
You see, I first called my regular (soon-to-be-not regular) doctor’s office and told them I needed a urologist STAT (that’s doctor talk for ASAP) because I was in severe pain, and they didn’t even call me back for 6 hours. After one hour I decided to call the doctor that was recommended, and he saw me within a few hours that same day. The lack of response from my regular doctor also helped me to get to the doctor I needed, so (again) I see God’s intervention.
But what really is the most important thing is that God gave the wisdom and understanding to the doctors and nurses that helped me through this, and he did that for them many, many years before I needed them.
The lesson for today is this: we need to not just look for God’s intervention in our daily life, but also to appreciate that it is more often than not through the skills and talents he has given others. I believe we each have a gift from God, and that in his perfect time he will make us aware of that gift. This gift should be used to give glory to God, so when we have someone who is gifted help us, we need to praise God for that person. And I mean not just saying “Thank you, God” (which, of course, is the correct thing to do), but saying “Thank you, God, for this person and the skills you have given him/her.” I think in this way not only do we show God our thanks, but also acknowledge the blessing to the world he gives by means of the gifts of wisdom and understanding he gives to people.
Maybe I am making a mountain out of a molehill, maybe this isn’t such a big thing, but I think it is important to recognize not just what God does but to show our appreciation for how he does it.
Thank you for being here, and please don’t forget to SUBSCRIBE by clicking on the button in the right-hand margin. Also, please use the link above and subscribe to my YouTube channel, as well.
I wish you all a pleasant Shabbat Shalom, and until next time… L’hitraot and Baruch HaShem!