Have you ever felt your heart rise up to your throat at the sight of a work of art?
“ He has God in his throat” was my dad’s favorite phrase when he heard an opera singer or a particularly talented cantor.
For me, it happens when I see Michael Baryshnikov dancing or hear a particularly beautiful musical performance or see a spectacular work of visual art. And I think to myself — wow, how does God dance / sing / draw through this artist .. it’s just “divine“.
Sometimes this feeling of a “rising heart to the throat” comes from love and a need to give, as happened to the people of Israel when they were asked by Moses to make a contribution to the construction of the Tabernacle.
They brought so much that Moses had to say enough. You brought “more than enough.”
Try to imagine yourself, as if you were the ones who received the instruction from Moses to bring a contribution to the construction of the Mishkan from your heart’s love. What group would you belong to?
To the generous-of-heart people who brought donations of gold, silver and copper and spices…and precious gems?
Or to the wise-hearted people who are engaged in the creative work of building the Mishkan?
Or to the people whose hearts rose up to their throats?
The fact that unlike other times in which Moshe was forced to “push” the people into action, this time they cooperate with unbridled enthusiasm – and it is very noticeable.
The fire is burning in their hearts. They do not know when to stop.
Why are they so obsessive?
Are they going through a process of transformation? Using the energies that motivated them to build the golden calf and converting them, diverting them toward a positive and sublime goal of building the tabernacle to God? And perhaps it is no coincidence that gold is the most prominent material in the construction of the Tabernacle.
And who is the expert jeweler, the artist, the master who wins over the craft of combinations in gold, silver and copper?
Bezalel Ben Uri Ben Hur.
Bezalel, so it is written, is not only wise and prudent, but has Da’at wisdom or knowledge:
“And the spirit of God filled him with intelligence, wisdom and understanding”.
‘Da’at’, knowledge, or special skill, is that alchemy that comes from a mysterious place, it’s this special thing that when we recognize it in another we are filled with wonder. Our heart rises to our throats … wow! how he sings … how he dances … how he drew it …
Da’at , Dr. Zornberg explains, is the ability to attach, connect, pair two separate things and make them one thing.
The Midrash says that Bezalel knew how to attach/combine letters from which heaven and earth were created, and in this he actually resembled God. He was not just an artist who understood how to create beautiful things, but he felt in the material the meaning that was right for that moment and understood the hint that was in the material to produce from it the perfect creation.
His work as a goldsmith required him to work with fire.
Working with fire can be a dangerous thing, both when it is an internal fire of the heart and when it is a physical external fire.
There is a destructive force in fire that can consume in an instant. And it can be ineffective if not used properly (a person without fire is an extinguished person, and taking the material out of the fire too soon will not enable us to work with it)
Bezalel’s work is the work of precision. He knew exactly how to work with fire in the exact right amount to melt and create with the gold.
May we be blessed with the intuitive ability, creativity, and the ability of Bezalel to merge (connect) in all our deeds, and may our hearts rise up in our throats, as a result.