Exodus 31 is great for artists and crafts people, and great for people who just need a day of rest! Karl and Daniel spend about thirty minutes talking about the first seventeen verses, and then thirty minutes talking about verse 18 alone! That’s one great verse. Plus, Daniel tells the joke that gives our episode it’s name.
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See, I have called by name Betzalel . . . of the tribe of Judah . . . and I have appointed with him Aholiav . . . of the tribe of Dan (31:2, 6)
No tribe was greater than Judah, and none more lowly than Dan. . . . Said G‑d: “Let the one come and be associated with the other, so that no man may despise [his fellow] or be arrogant, for both great and small are equal in G‑d’s sight.”
3 — with wisdom: [I.e.,] what a person hears from others and learns. -[from Sifrei Deut. 1:13]
with insight: With his intellect he understands other things based on what he learned. -[from Sifrei Deut. 1:13]
with knowledge: The holy spirit.
6 — and all the wise-hearted into whose hearts I have instilled wisdom: And additionally, other wise-hearted people among you [shall assist], as well as everyone into whom I have instilled wisdom, and [all of them] shall make everything I have commanded you.
10 — the meshwork garments: Heb. בִּגְדֵי הַשְְׂרָד In my opinion, according to the simple meaning of the verse, it is impossible to say that the garments of the kehunah are referred to [here], because it says next to them [at the end of the verse], “the holy garments for Aaron the kohen, the garments of his sons [in which] to serve [as kohanim].” But these בִּגְדֵי הַשְׂרָד [referred to here] are the garments of blue, purple, and crimson wool mentioned in the section dealing with the travels (Num. 4:6-13): “and they shall place upon it a garment of blue wool,” “and they shall place upon it a garment of purple wool,” “and they shall place upon them a garment of crimson wool.”
13 — And you, speak to the children of Israel: But [as for] you, although I have mandated you to command them [the Israelites] concerning the work of the Mishkan, do not let it seem to you that you may easily set aside the Sabbath because of that work.
Only keep My Sabbaths!: Although you will be rushed to perform the work [of the Mishkan] quickly, the Sabbath shall not be set aside because of it. All instances of אַ and רַק [imply limitations, i.e.,] are exclusive, to exclude the Sabbath from the work of the Mishkan.
For it is a sign between Me and you: It is a sign of distinction between us that I have chosen you, by granting you as an inheritance My day of rest for [your] rest.
to know: [So that] the nations [should know] that I, the Lord, sanctify you.
15 — (a Sabbath of complete rest: For this reason, Scripture repeated it [the word, שַׁבָּת], to inform [us] that on it all work is prohibited, even what is needed for food.
The children of Israel shall keep the Sabbath, to make the Sabbath (31:16)
There are two dimensions to Shabbat, referred to in the dual commandments to “keep” it and to “make” it. It is a day possessing an intrinsic holiness from the very beginning of time; this holiness the people of Israel are commanded to keep and preserve. And then there is the command “to make the Shabbat”—to impart greater sanctity and meaning to it by our actions.
(Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak of Lubavitch)
And on the seventh day He rested and was refreshed (31:17)
Resh Lakish said: On Shabbat eve G‑d imparts an additional soul to the person, and at Shabbat’s end He takes it away.
(Talmud, Beitzah 16a)
18 — He gave Moses: In the Torah, chronological order is not adhered to. The episode of the calf took place long before the command of the work of the Mishkan. For on the seventeenth of Tammuz the tablets were broken, and on Yom Kippur the Holy One, blessed is He, was reconciled to Israel. On the morrow [i.e., on the eleventh of Tishri], they commenced with the donation for the Mishkan, and it [the Mishkan] was erected on the first of Nissan. -[from Midrash Tanchuma, Ki Thissa 31]
He gave to Moses, when He had concluded speaking to him upon Mount Sinai, two tablets of the testimony (31:18)
It is usual for an earthly king to bestow gifts on his subjects and furnish supplies for them as long as they are loyal to him, being then obliged to support them. But as soon as they rebel against him, G‑d forbid, he has no obligation whatsoever towards them, and he immediately cuts off their supplies as a penalty for denying his royal authority. With G‑d, however, it is not so; for while they were busy provoking Him to anger below, He was occupied in heaven with bestowing upon them a Torah of life . . .
He gave to Moses, when He had concluded (31:18)
(The sages note the similarity of the Hebrew word kechaloto—“when he had concluded”—and the word kekallato, “as his bride,” )
Rabbi Shimon ben Lakish said: If one gives a discourse on the Torah, and it is not as pleasant to those who hear it as a bride is pleasing to her spouse, then it were better that he should not have said it at all. Why is that? Because when G‑d gave the Torah to Israel, it was then as dear to them as a bride is to her spouse, as it says, “He gave to Moses kechaloto.”
A bride keeps herself secluded the whole time she is in her father’s house, none knowing her, and reveals her face only when she is about to enter the bridal chamber, as if she were thus proclaiming: “Anyone who can testify anything against me, let him come and do so.” So must a Torah scholar be as modest as a bride, but he must be renowned for his good deeds just as a bride . . .
Just as a bride comes to her groom beautiful, bejeweled and perfumed, so does the Shabbat come to the people of Israel. . . . Just as the groom dresses in his finest clothing to receive his bride, so does the Jew receive the Shabbat. Just as a groom is pampered and absolved from working all his nuptial days, so is the Jew on Shabbat.
speaking with him: [The word “with”] teaches [us] that Moses would hear [the laws] from God and then they would both repeat the halachah together. -[from Exod. Rabbah 41:5]
tablets: Heb. לֻחֹת. It is spelled לֻחֹת [without the “vav” of the plural, as if to be read לֻחַת, the singular form,] because they were both the same [size]. -[from Exod. Rabbah 41:6]