Thursday, March 03, 2011

Betzalel did all that Hashem commanded Moshe, pt i

Summary: According to Rashi, Betzalel knew even that which Moshe didn't say to him, and also argued against the reverted order. How to understand this is a major dispute amongst super-commentators of Rashi. In this first part, we try to establish that Rashi never even juxtaposed the two midrashim, which may then impact how we understand what he does say. Update: Read part ii here.

Post: In the second pasuk in parashat Pekudei we encounter the following interesting pasuk and Rashi:

22. Bezalel, son of Uri, son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, had made all that the Lord had commanded Moses.כב. וּבְצַלְאֵל בֶּן אוּרִי בֶן חוּר לְמַטֵּה יְהוּדָה עָשָׂה אֵת כָּל אֲשֶׁר צִוָּה ה אֶת מֹשֶׁה:

And Betzalel ben Uri... made all that Hashem commanded Moshe: "
that Moshe commanded" is not written here, but rather "that Hashem commanded Moshe". Even those things which his master {Moshe} did not say to him, his opinion coincided which that which was stated to Moshe on Sinai, for Moshe commanded Betzalel to first make the vessels and afterwards the Mishkan. Betzalel said to him, the custom of the world is to first make the house and afterwards place the vessels within it. He said to him, "so did I hear from the mouth of Hashem." Moshe said to him, "you were in the shadow of God", for certainly so did Hashem command me. And so did he first make the Mishkan and afterwards make the vessels.
ובצלאל בן אורי וגו' עשה את כל אשר צוה ה' את משה: אשר צוה משה אין כתיב כאן, אלא כל אשר צוה ה' את משה, אפילו דברים שלא אמר לו רבו, הסכימה דעתו למה שנאמר למשה בסיני, כי משה צוה לבצלאל לעשות תחלה כלים ואחר כך משכן, אמר לו בצלאל מנהג עולם לעשות תחלה בית ואחר כך משים כלים בתוכו. אמר לו כך שמעתי מפי הקב"ה. אמר לו משה בצל אל היית, כי בוודאי כך צוה לי הקב"ה, וכן עשה המשכן תחלה ואחר כך עשה הכלים:

(English translation is my own.) Looking to Mekorei Rashi for Rashi's basis, we read the following

"See in Netivot Hashalom, that he brings from two manuscripts in his hand the following nusach: " 'that Moshe commanded him' is not written here but rather 'that Hashem commanded him'. Even those things which he did not hear from his master, his opinion was in accord to what was stated to Moshe on Sinai" {and it ends there}. And this is from Yerushalmi Peah, perek 1. And in the printed nusach is added upon this the statement of Rabbi Yonatan [sic; should be Yochanan] (Berachot 55a), that even where Moshe changed from what was told him, Betzalel knew the position of the One On High, and did as Hashem commanded Moshe."

Indeed, in Yerushalmi Peah 3a, all we find is this first statement:
רבי תנחומא בשם רב הונא (שמות לה) ובצלאל בן אורי בן חור למטה יהודה עשה את כל אשר צוה ה' את משה אותו משה אין כתיב כאן אלא אשר צוה ה' את משה אפי' דברים שלא שמע מפי רבו הסכימה דעתו כמה שנאמר למשה מסיני
and totally separate from that is the statement of Rabbi Yochanan in Berachot 55a (and here):
א"ר שמואל בר נחמני א"ר יונתן בצלאל על שם חכמתו נקרא בשעה שאמר לו הקדוש ברוך הוא למשה לך אמור לו לבצלאל עשה לי משכן ארון וכלים הלך משה והפך ואמר לו עשה ארון וכלים ומשכן אמר לו משה רבינו מנהגו של עולם אדם בונה בית ואחר כך מכניס לתוכו כלים ואתה אומר עשה לי ארון וכלים ומשכן כלים שאני עושה להיכן אכניסם שמא כך אמר לך הקב"ה עשה משכן ארון וכלים אמר לו שמא בצל אל היית וידעת
R. Samuel b. Nahmani said in the name of R. Johanan: Bezalel was so called on account of his wisdom. At the time when the Holy One, blessed be He, said to Moses; Go and tell Bezalel to make me a tabernacle, an ark and vessels,21  Moses went and reversed the order, saying, Make an ark and vessels and a tabernacle. Bezalel said to him: Moses, our Teacher, as a rule a man first builds a house and then brings vessels into it; but you say, Make me an ark and vessels and a tabernacle. Where shall I put the vessels that I am to make? Can it be that the Holy One, blessed be He, said to you, Make a tabernacle, an ark and vessels? Moses replied: Perhaps you were in the shadow of God22  and knew!
Looking at some of the Kitvei Yad, I see one that indeed only has the Yerushalmi Peah and not the gemara in Berachos. This is ktav yad Roma, from 1470:

I underlined the two dibbur hamatchils in red. Hakikar is the dibbur hamatchil of pasuk 24, so we see that the entire quote of the gemara in Berachos is missing.

Here is another stylish Ktav Yad, from Würzburg, in 1233:

The blank space is not because anything has been lost to the ages. Rather, it is a way of decorating the text with stylish whitespace. But I underlined, once again, the two dibbur hamatchils, so you can see that the gemara in Berachos is absent.

And here is a third example, from a ktav yad, Cod Hebr 3, but I don't know from where and when:

Once again, the relevant section of Rashi is missing.

If I had to guess, some scribe put this in as a parenthetical comment, or as a marginal gloss, and eventually it became accepted as part of Rashi itself.

This is something to keep in mind, for the juxtaposition of these two midrashim, by Rashi, might influence how to interpret each one. But if Rashi never juxtaposed the twain, then we should not be influenced by this, and perhaps we should consider each midrash by itself.

What I mean by this is that the midrash in Yerushalmi Peah is based on אֵת כָּל אֲשֶׁר צִוָּה ה אֶת מֹשֶׁה, while the midrash in Bavli Brachot is based upon the name בצלאל, as well as the reversed order of the construction of the Mishkan and its keilim in Terumah vs. in Ki Tisa. And the Yerushalmi Peah was seemingly about omitted information, which Betzalel was able to supply, and the Bavli Berachot was about perhaps a different order in presentation, though not necessarily an error that Moshe made. By juxtaposing the two, it looks like this is Betzalel correcting Moshe, and about an error of commission rather than omission. Indeed, the text of this inserted "Rashi" makes this explicit, stating כי משה צוה לבצלאל לעשות תחלה, which is NOT what the gemara in Berachot was saying, if we read it carefully enough.

Finally, if we are to understand Rashi, it would pay to see how Rashi explains that gemara in Berachot:
לך אמור לו לבצלאל עשה משכן ארון וכלים - שכן הם סדורים בפרשת כי תשא ראה קראתי בשם וגו' את אהל מועד ואת הארון לעדות וכל הפרשה ומשה אמר לו עשה ארון וכלים כגון שלחן ומנורה ואחר כך משכן דס"ל לר"י שכסדר שהם סדורים בויקחו לי תרומה אמר לו:
Also, see Tosafot there:
לך אמור לבצלאל עשה משכן ארון וכלים. ואם תאמר היכא אשכחן שצוה הקדוש ברוך הוא לעשות משכן תחלה הרי בפרשת תרומה כתיב ארון תחלה. ויש לומר דבפרשת כי תשא כתיב את אהל מועד ואת הארון לעדות:

This is the likely basis of this particular midrash, in Berachot.

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