February 20, 2014
Bezalel and Ahaliav
This week’s parsha continues with the building of the Mishkan. It describes the work done by Bezalel and his co-workers in constructing the Mishkan and the vessels.
34. And He gave the ability to teach, both him (Bezalel) and Oholiab, the son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan.
לד. וּלְהוֹרֹת נָתַן בְּלִבּוֹ הוּא וְאָהֳלִיאָב בֶּן אֲחִיסָמָךְ לְמַטֵּה דָן:
Rashi: “and Oholiab of the tribe of Dan, of the lowest of the tribes, of the sons of the handmaidens [Bilhah and Zilpah. Dan was Bilhah’s son]. Yet the Omnipresent compared him [Oholiab] to Bezalel for the work of the Mishkan, and he [Bezalel] was of the greatest of the tribes [Judah], to fulfill what is said: “and a prince was not recognized before a poor man” (Job 34:19). -[from Tanchuma 13]
ואהליאב: משבט דן, מן הירודין שבשבטים מבני השפחות, והשוהו המקום לבצלאל למאלכת המשכן, והוא מגדולי השבטים, לקיים מה שנאמר (איוב לד יט) ולא נכר שוע לפני דל:
Rashi’s message is clear. He says that Torah teaches us a moral lesson, i.e., that God does not show preference to the privileged over the less privileged. We derive this from the fact that God chose Ahaliav, the son of one of Jacob’s maidservants, to be on an equal footing with Bezalel, the son of Leah, one of Jacob’s wives, in the holy work of constructing the Tabernacle. And we are made aware of this by the phrasing of our verse.
But if you compare our verse with a previous one, you will have a question. See 31:6 (parshat Ki Tisa). There it says:
“I have given with him (Bezalel) Ahaliav the son of Achisamach of the Tribe of Dan, etc.”
There, Rashi did not comment. Why didn’t he make the comment he made on our verse on this earlier verse? This verse also mentions Ahaliav together with Bezalel.
In verse 31:6 it says “with him (Bezalel.)” The word “with” can be understood to mean “subordinate to” and not necessarily “equal to.” While in our verse we have the words “him and Ahaliav etc.” Here the two are placed on an equal basis. Thus it is not by chance that Rashi makes his comment here and not earlier; only here does the wording of the verse stress their equality.
Rashi always comments at the earliest opportunity in the Torah. If he does not, then we must research into why not.