What's Bothering Rashi? Parshat Vayakhel: Bezalel and Ahaliav
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Vayakhel(Exodus 35:1-38:20)

Bezalel and Ahaliav

This week's parsha continues with its discussion of the Mishkan. It describes the work done by Bezalel and his co-workers in constructing the Mishkan and the related accoutrements.

Exodus 35:34

And he gave the ability to teach to him and Ahaliav, the son of Achisamach, of the tribe of Dan.

 

RASHI

And Ahaliav - Rashi: [He] was from the tribe of Dan, of the lowliest among the Tribes, one of the sons of the maidservants, yet God equates him to Bezalel in the work of the Tabernacle, who was from the greatest of the tribes. This exemplifies what it says:

"He does not recognize the wealthy over the poor." (Job 34:19)

 

WHAT IS RASHI SAYING?

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 when we compare our verse with a previous one, we 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."

 

QUESTIONING RASHI

A Question: On the above words Rashi has no 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.

Hint: Compare the wording of the two verses.

Your Answer:

 

UNDERSTANDING RASHI

An Answer: 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.

 

LESSON

It is always wise to assume that Rashi will make an appropriate comment at the earliest opportunity in the Torah. If he does not, then we must strive to understand why.

 

Shabbat Shalom,
Avigdor Bonchek


Published: February 26, 2005

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