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G-d selected two talented artisans to lead in the construction of the Mishkan: Betzalel from the Tribe of Yehuda and Oholiav from the Tribe of Dan.

While it is understandable that a member of the leading Tribe should have a part in the construction of the Mishkan, G-d's dwelling place on Earth, why should Dan be given a special portion in this task?  Among the Tribes, there were many that would seem to be a more suitable choice.  Among all the Tribes, Dan is considered to be the lowliest, the Tribe most prone to idolatry - in fact, it was a member of Dan that instigated the construction of the Golden Calf.  Why should a member of Dan be chosen over, say Yosef, the secondary leader of the Tribes, or Levi, who would go on to serve in the Mishkan itself?

There are two kinds of artists in the world: those who create artwork for other people, and those who create art for themselves.  The first kind seeks to influence others, to sell their work, or to be admired for their aesthetic sense.  The second kind is deeply aware of their own feelings, and feels a deep inner urge to express themselves in a personal way.  Unlike the first, this type of artist may even choose to keep their work private and not show it to others.

By virtue of being close to the side of 'darkness', members of the Tribe of Dan are capable of attaining an acute awareness of their hidden, inner urges.  Furthermore, by virtue of the Nation's interconnectedness, an especially talented member of Dan could be capable of understanding the hidden forces at work within the Nation's collective heart.  The purpose of the Mishkan was to atone for the Golden Calf - and in order to do so properly, it would need a leader who had a deep awareness of the reasons behing the Calf's creation and an understanding of the urges that led to it.  A member of Dan would be the ideal choice.

As a member of the Tribe of Yehuda, the Tribe of leadership and appreciation for the skills of others, Betzalel was likely the primary leader of the Mishkan's construction, who gave the instructions of who should build what and how the constructions should be made, 'filled with the spirit of G-d'.  Oholiav, by contrast, was 'wise of heart' - able to search within himself for inspiration in a way that would subconsciously reflect the purpose for which the Mishkan was intended to atone.  It would require both of these artisans to create the Mishkan in a way that was both a reflection of the Will of G-d and at the same time capable of recalling - and in doing so, correcting - the inner urges that led to the construction of the Golden Calf.

 | Daniel Nadel Daniel Nadel  |  Torah  | Feb 13, 2013  |  456 Views