Parshas Vayakhel
Exodus 35:1 - 38:20

The Wonder of Wisdom ©

By Dr. Akiva G. Belk

This study of mysticism in Hebrew Gematria is dedicated in the loving memory of Mr. Paul Sakash, may he rest in peace.

The Story Of A Lost Soul
Recently a young man aged nineteen came to work in my division. He was not Jewish. Shortly after his arrival he was removed from my division by another supervisor. When he came to work, only a few minutes were required to size him up. According to him he had been in our field for more than two years. No problem. His immediate supervisor had less experience in the field but followed directions well, provided quality work, interacted well with his fellow workers, was appreciated and respected by management.

Now this young man IS NOT typical of most youth that I have worked with. We have other young adults working with us that have not exhibited his know-it-all attitudes, his inappropriate assertiveness, his objections to directives and his contemptuous demeanor. Several days with this individual was like a stone in the shoe. It was difficult and uncomfortable.

When studying for this week's parsha thoughts grasped my mind. 'What would have happened to our glorious Mishkon had Hashem employed such rebellious, obtrusive individuals to prepare and construct the Mishkon?'

"And all wise hearted among you shall come and make everything that Hashem has commanded." Exodus 35:10 We know that Hashem selected only the finest in their fields of expertise to prepare and construct the Mishkon. Hashem selected only the very best! Hashem selected the best spiritually and the best mentally. We recall last week's parsha, "And said Hashem to Moshe, stating, 'Observe! I called by name Bi Tzahl El, Son of Oo Ree, son of Choor of Yehuda's tribe. I have filled him with the Spirit of G-d [perfect judgment] in wisdom and in understanding and in knowledge and in all occupations to devise from [carefully] calculated [plans] of a metal [craftsman] in gold and in silver and in copper and in artisan work of stones and in artisan work of wood to metal [craft] in all occupations. And I, behold, I have given him Aaw Haw Lee Aawv son of Ah Chee Saw Mach from Don's tribe. And in the heart of all wise hearted I have given wisdom and [now] they [can make as] artisans all that I have commanded!'" Exodus 31:1-6

Dear reader, there is a decisive difference between the young belligerent know-it-all and the individuals that Hashem selected to prepare and fashion the Mishkon. THANK G-D!! First according to our sages there were two groups of people, Bi Tzahl El and Aaw Haw Lee Aawv, those who possessed wisdom and those to whom wisdom was granted to fulfill Hashem's commands.

Holy reader, this provides us with the most intriguing concept. There are those who now possess the wisdom, spirituality and mentality to fulfill Hashem's commands and there are those who Hashem will grant the wisdom, spirituality and mentality to fulfill His commands. Then there is a third group which consists of the unlearned represented by this young individual.

Now when we speak of the Mishkon we make reference to the Mishkon of thousands of years ago in the BaMidbar and today, mystically, to the Mishkon of our soul. Who is commissioned... who is called... who is selected to carefully craft the Mishkon of our neshama? Who do we want to formulate our internal house of worship? We must be extremely cautious of this!! Not any religious leader, rav, rabbi or rebbetzin, will do! Yet one must use the best material available to learn.

Hashem has the clear and distinct advantage here as in every situation. Hashem intuitively knows each of us. We are at a considerable disadvantage here. Before we can truly select a teacher we must learn everything we can about the teacher, congregation, Bais Yaakov, institution or Yeshiva. THAT IS NOT SO EASY since leaders normally attempt to display and project their finer qualities when in public. Institutions are not going to advertise their poorer areas. They are not going to display the questionable or known unrighteous actions of their staff. They are going to cover and hide those. THIS IS WHY WE HAVE TO EXERCISE EXTREME CAUTION!! Do we want to learn from religious people who cannot contain their ANGER or their SEXUAL DESIRES or their BUDGETS, etc.?? NO! And for reasons like this Hashem did not select a person with these problems to construct the Holy Mishkon. The Mishkon, its fashioning, its construction and its holy intent were in accord with wisdom. In other words, Hashem protected the Mishkon from absorbing indecencies and imperfection by choosing the wise and empowering others to wisdom. Naomi, my wife, reminds me, "Never prepare a meal when you're angry because the food will absorb your anger." When you go to bed at night listen to the music without words that elevates your soul...It is in this framework that the Mishkon was fashioned.

For this and many other reasons we must be careful.

We understand that the preparation and construction of every part of the Mishkon, both the physical and the spiritual, along with every holy article MUST BE ACCOMPLISHED BY THE WISE OF HEART! Because we absorb from them. The construction of this very special place... of this very holy place... of this place where G-d and man meet required Vi Cawl Chaw Cham Layv, meaning "And all wise hearted [among you]"to construct and craft it. This means we MUST dedicate serious efforts to learn about those who lead us. We MUST be involved with the religious schools our children attend or plan to attend. We must consider every policy, examine each instructor and administrator. Nothing must be left for chance. Those who fashion, who craft the Mishkon of our souls MUST BE THE BEST! It is not necessary for us to invade their privacy. We can learn much from what is open...

There was an institution that Naomi and I once supported. After making about eight contributions we heard of questionable business practices. I simply examined the back of each cancelled check. To my amazement many of the checks were deposited in an account other than the one they were intended for. I phoned the institution and requested to speak with the accounting office. I inquired, 'What CPA reviews your accounting practices?'

The individual responded with a name.

I continued, 'When was the last time they audited your procedures?'

- PAUSE - 'It's been a long time. We are being reviewed in a few weeks... I think...'

Will the audit be made public when it is completed?

'I doubt it,' was the response.

At that point we suspended our support until after the audit when I phoned again.

I spoke with the same individual. I asked, 'Were all the institution's bank records audited?'

The individual said something to the effect, 'The bank accounts the auditor was aware of.'

I questioned, 'Are there accounts that were not audited?'

'Yes' was the reply, the head of the institution has accounts that no one is permitted to examine.'

I asked, 'How many accounts?'

'I don't know,' was the response.

'A few or many?'


This led to further questions regarding the practices of that institution... To make a long story short the individual over accounting who was supposed to receive all the general funds did not receive some of our contributions, they were siphoned off into some other unaudited account that was unknown.

Go back! Look at the cancelled checks from your gifts, from your support, see if they are deposited in the proper account. See if they are deposited in a variety of accounts. It is NOT that difficult to review what is obvious! WE STOPPED SUPPORTING THAT INSTITUTION!

Holy reader, it is our obligation to support... to uphold... to learn with the "wise hearted [among us]." It is the wise hearted that we need to connect with! It is the wise hearted that we need our Mishkon carefully crafted by. It is the wise hearted we need to absorb from. Unfortunately there are some leaders who are crafty and skilled only in the arts of DECEPTION AND STEALING YOUR TZEDAKAH!

Recently in a discussion of concepts from this article, a JewishPath supporter mentioned how disgusted he was observing several community rabbium 'drooling' over a wealthy individual who visited the community. One of the rabbium was from the institution we stopped supporting. Dear reader, it is NOT DIFFICULT to observe where the crafts are... where the skills are...and where they are not.

The Torah speaks of a good... of a wise leader... our great forefather Yosief. The Torah records that even though Yosief was falsely accused and sent to prison for crimes he did not commit that Pharaoh said, "After G-d [the G-d of discernment] informs you of all this there is no intelligence and wisdom like yours." Genesis 41:39 In other words, 'I realize in our brief discussion that G-d shares His wisdom with you. Since that is the situation, who would be better qualified than you to lead our nation through these years of prosperity and famine? What wisdom... what spirituality... what integrity... what honor can match yours?'

Holy reader, when Hashem shares wisdom with you as Hashem did with our forefather Yosief there is no greater honor that one can receive even if they are made Viceroy of the greatest nation on earth as Yosief was! Dear reader, when Hashem gives you a pupil, a student, a class, a congregation or an institution of students to share your wisdom with, that is of the highest honor. You in your position are charged with fashioning the Mishkon of the neshama of each student of the future. DON'T SCREW IT UP as the above mentioned leader has...

We see many, many Gematria threads interwoven through the Gematria of 156.

The Gematria of Yosief is 156.

156 =
Pey = 80 Samech = 60 Vav = 6 Yud = 10

Ooh Hehl Mooh Ayd, meaning the 'the Tent of Witness" which is the focal point of Hashem's presence among us... Hashem's presence of Wisdom, as in Judge, resides in the "Tent of Witness" in both the physical and mystical / spiritual Mishkon. This is evidenced by the Gematria of 156.

Ooh Hehl - Mooh Ayd {Tent of Meetings}
156 = Dalet = 4 Ayin = 70 Vav = 6 Mem = 40 - Lamed = 30 Hey = 5 Aleph = 1

Hashem selected only the wise to craft the Mishkon where His presence would dwell. We observe this in the Gematria 156 of the words Vi Cawl Chah Cham Layv, meaning "And all wise hearted" [among you shall come and make everything that Hashem has commanded]." Exodus 35:10 Here, dear reader, Hashem has charged only the wise of heart to craft. The rest of us are charged to support their efforts! Now, who are we supporting? Are we supporting an institution because of its leaders' charm? Are we supporting a rabbi because he drools over us like molasses? Are we supporting someone or some place because of our sinful guilt? Are we contributing to a congregation because we want the most prominent edifices in our community, in our state...? Why? Why?!! Why are we supporting those who we support? Are we the wise or the crafty? Do we care? Will we investigate?

Vi Cawl Chah Cham Layv, {And all wise hearted}
156 = Bais = 2 Lamid = 30 - Mem = 40 Chof = 20 Ches = 8 - Lamid = 30 Chof = 20 Vav = 6

Two weeks ago in parshas Tezaveh while discussing the article entitled, "Perfect Oil That Illuminates Torah" we stated, "We MUST be careful not to use {i.e., receive} light from oil which has been processed, which has had sediments screened from it. That oil is NOT suitable to illuminate Torah!! The sediments inhibit the spiritual flow. For example, I know of a rabbi who is very charming and warm and has a great deal of charisma. Yet, the good that he does is spoiled because of the sediments which are his fiery, uncontrolled temper. Learning from a person like this is like planting weeds with your vegetables. While you will get vegetables, you will also get problems. It is better to find a teacher without sediments / weeds."

In this week's parsha the word wisdom constantly occurs when discussing the fashioners of the Mishkon. The idea of giving a terumah offering frequently occurs also in support of the wise efforts of the fashioners. Both creating and supporting work in conjunction. Both are very necessary. Yet there is a PROBLEM. The problem is when the crafty sweet talkers gather support and the wise go without support. THERE CANNOT BE A BALANCE BETWEEN THE TWO! We must be careful to support the works that Hashem has commanded NOT MAN!! Parshas Vayakel guides us in the proper patterns to accomplish these goals in accordance with the Torah.

Each year about this time we remind our readership that our staff has prepared a guide to selecting a school for our children. This guide is intended to shake us a bit, to cause us to take a close look at the institutions and staff that our children learn in / with. The same principles from this guide show us what institutions we should avoid supporting.

School Investagation Guide

School Investagation Question List


Best Wishes!

Dr. Akiva G. Belk

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