(Shmot 30:11-34:35)

(Haftara: Melachim I, 18:1-39)

  1. [30:38] “If a person makes it (the incense) to enjoy its smell, he shall be cut off from his people.” There is a rule in the Talmud which says, “Commandments were not given for enjoyment (or for personal gain)”. We know, however, that we are encouraged by our tradition to “enjoy” doing God’s commandments, and we get pleasure from many commandments. What does the Talmud mean when it says, “Commandments were not given for enjoyment”?
  1. [31:2] “Look, I have called by name Betzalel ben Uri…” God called Betzalel ben Uri “by name”, to use his talent for craftsmanship. Our tradition tells us that each of us has a special job to do in this world. What is so special about Betzalel being called “by name”—all of us are called “by name”?
  1. [31:3] “I filled him with the spirit of God—with wisdom, understanding and knowledge, and the talent for craftsmanship.” Does this mean that wisdom, understanding and knowledge, and the talent for craftsmanship are the spirit of God, or does it mean that the spirit of God was joined with wisdom, understanding and knowledge, etc.?
  1. [32:4] “He took it from their hands and he formed it in a form and cast it into a calf…” Some say that the main sin of the golden calf was the fact that it was an unchanging, rigid form. They wanted to convey the message that the ideal life is stable and lived with a fixed personality. This is the opposite of the Torah life that demands dynamic movement toward holiness. According to that opinion, is the sin of the golden calf a sin of idolatry or is it the sin of having the wrong outlook on life?
  1. [Haftara: Melachim I, 18:21] “…how long will you stay between two opinions. If God  is  God, then follow Him, and if Ba’al then follow him…”   Eliyahu thought that this was an effective educational method. What was the people’s religious mentality, if this would be an effective educational method?

Commentary

When a person turns his gaze upwards and wants to change the direction of his soul from bad to good—immediately he finds the way open in front of him. Moreover, even though he is still far and has not been able to purify all of his actions, as soon as his heart agrees to return [to goodness and to God] he enters into the realm of holiness.

–R. Avraham Y. H. Kuk, 1865-1935, Lithuania and Israel.

This study page is dedicated to the memory of Gad Eliahu ben David and Kochava—Eli Zucker

And this study page is dedicated to the memory of Sarah Bella bat Yitzchak Kummer, Chaim Yosef Yechiel ben Eliyahu Kummer and Eliyahu and Margaret Kummer