Once upon a time, a few scientists decided to create their own human being. They told G-d “We figured it all out Big Guy. It looks like we don’t really need you anymore.” G-d, somewhat surprised at their audacity replied, “Can I at least watch what you are doing?” “Sure! Be our guest!” exclaimed the scientists. They began to extract some cells from a body. G-d retorted, “Hey! Those are Mine! You can’t use those. You said you don’t need Me anymore.”
Even the most arrogant of scientists know deep down that they cannot truly create on their own – ex nihilo. No finite mind would have been able to decipher how much blood a person needs or how to connect the limbs of a body. We needed G-d to create a model from which to learn from and extract its resources.
“And Betzalel …did all that Hashem commanded Moshe to do”(Shemos 38:22).
Our Sages teach that Betzalel knew the depths and secrets of the Torah. He knew how Hashem arranged the letters of the Aleph Bet to create the world. He was able to figure out how to make the Mishkan on his own, so why did he have to specifically follow the command of Hashem?
Read through Parshat Pekudei and you will find a persistently redundant line: “They did…as Hashem commanded them to do.” Why is there a need to repeat those words after almost each paragraph?
The answer, in seven words, is Hashem is the One Who Knows Measurements.
What is the essential difference between the various creatures or vegetation on earth? The fundamental elements are all the same (there is only a limited number of elements on earth.) It is the amount of each element and their unique arrangement that makes all the difference. Some creatures are cold-blooded while some are warm. Some are naturally dry and some are moist. We humans don’t know the measurements that Hashem used and how he arranged them to create. Had we been privy to that knowledge we’d be able to create our own creatures from scratch!
The Kuzari explains that other religions may have good intentions. They all want to achieve closeness to G-d. Various religions may utilize isolation, fasting, self-mutilation, pure faith, and many other means to attain nearness to their Creator. In truth, however, the one and only way to get close to Hashem is through the steps and actions that He instructed us to do in His Torah. Only Hashem knows measurements – how much to do, how to do it, where, and when. It’s after we take all of His assigned measurements and bring them together that we achieve closeness to Hashem. That is exactly the manner that the Mishkan functioned and accomplished its mission. Although Betzalel was in tune with G-d’s will, he would only act on the spoken word of Hashem. He understood that following the word of Hashem is the one and only way to guarantee that Hashem’s Presence would rest on the Mishkan.
Likewise, Hashem taught us through the Torah how to be a balanced people. He taught us how to react to every single circumstance we are presented in life. He taught us measurements. The word loosely translated as desirable character traits in Hebrew is middos. The literal English translation for middos is measurements. Someone with good middos is someone whose actions and reactions are calculated and calibrated with the Torah’s values. The measurements that were set by G-d, alone.
After the passing of the Brisker Rav, Rabbi Yitzchak Zeev Soleveitchik, a certain guest approached his son during the Shiva. The guest asked, “What was your father’s character like in the privacy of his home? We all knew him in the public eye, but people tend to be different in private.” His son responded proudly, “Whether in public or in private: My father was whatever the Torah expected him to be at that moment.”
May we all merit to achieve true closeness to Hashem according to His measurements.