Building with the Divine

The Jewish Studio just hosted a weekend of events. In crafting the services and events, we gathered together people of great skill and wisdom. We only gave them an outline. As with a blueprint or a recipe, greatness was achieved and the holiness found was in the execution and not merely in the directions. This is a lesson from Torah.

In Parshat Vayakhel God tells people to gather the people together. God offers further details on the construction of the tent of meeting, the Mishkan. Moses then deployed Bezalel and Oholiab, and every skilled person whom God had endowed with skill, everyone who excelled in ability, to undertake the task and carry it out. He connected the artisans of varying skills with the tasks at hand.

We were blessed to learn Torah with Rabbi Michael Paley who spoke about Bezalel. Rabbi Paley explained that Bezalel’s name literally means “in the shadow of God.” What does it mean to be in the shadow of God? It means that Bezalel’s work came from a Divine aesthetic.

The blueprint for the Mishkan was not sufficiently detailed. Like a shadow cast, Bezalel had to craft the Divine details from an outline. His deployment as an artisan was to complete the structure beginning with a mere projection. Bezalel could not rely solely upon his skill but had to use great wisdom to complete the project.

Moreover, Bezalel had to cast his own shadow. He had to inspire the other artisans to complete the project appropriate to the holiness of the task. The end result was a Mishkan worthy of God’s presence.

The great beauty in the weekend we just shared was how musical artisans crafted an amazing, holy experience from an outline of a weekend. Rabbis and Cantors, singers and musicians, all came together with their skills, but fashioned an extraordinary Shabbat experience with wisdom. They created a Shabbat that was like the Mishkan, a container for the Holy One of Blessings.

My deep gratitude to Rabbi Jessica Kate Meyer, Cantor Basya Schechter, Rabbi Michael Paley, Cantorial Student Lisa Sokolov, Rabbi Noah Diamondstein, Instrumentalist Oren Neiman, Cantor Jessi Roemer, Cantor Stephanie Weishaar, and Rabbi Jessica Shimberg. We heard from William Kristol, who reflected some glimmers of optimism for our future. And my deepest and most heartfelt appreciation for Cantor David Abramowitz, my partner in The Jewish Studio, whose soul shines bright as a spiritual leader, musician, and friend.

Rabbi Evan J. Krame