Vayakhel, Siman 1 ויקהל, א׳
1 א

וַיֹּאמֶר מֹשֶׁה אֶל בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל רְאוּ קָרָא ה' בְּשֵׁם בְּצַלְאֵל. יְלַמְּדֵנוּ רַבֵּנוּ, עַד כַּמָּה חַיָּב אָדָם הַמְטַפֵּל בַּכִּלְאָיִם. כָּךְ תָּנֵי רַבִּי שִׁמְעוֹן בַּר יוֹחַאי, וּבֶגֶד כִּלְאַיִם שַׁעַטְנֵז לֹא יַעֲלֶה עָלֶיךָ (ויקרא יט, יט), אֲפִלּוּ עַל גַּבֵּי מֵאָה כֵּלִים אָסוּר לוֹ לִלְבּוֹשׁ. אֲבָל אִם פֵּרַשׂ אוֹתוֹ תַחְתָּיו בִּלְבָד שֶׁלֹּא יְהֵא נוֹגֵעַ בְּשָׂרוֹ בְּכִלְאַיִם, מֻתָּר, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר: וּבֶגֶד כִּלְאַיִם שַׁעַטְנֵז לֹא יַעֲלֶה עָלֶיךָ. עָלֶיךָ לֹא יַעֲלֶה, אֲבָל אַתָּה מַצִּיעָן תַּחְתֶּיךָ. אָמַר הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא לְיִשְׂרָאֵל, שִׁמְרוּ מִצְוֹתַי וְחֻקּוֹתָי. לָמָּה, שֶׁשְּׂכַר מִצְוָה מִצְוָה, וּשְׂכַר עֲבֵרָה עֲבֵרָה. בֶּן עַזַּאי אוֹמֵר, מִצְוָה גּוֹרֶרֶת מִצְוָה, וַעֲבֵרָה גּוֹרֶרֶת עֲבֵרָה. אָמַר רַבִּי מֵאִיר, עַל כָּל מִצְוָה שֶׁאָדָם עוֹשֶׂה, מוֹסְרִין לוֹ מַלְאָךְ לְשָׁמְרוֹ. עָשָׂה מִצְוָה אַחַת, מוֹסְרִין לוֹ מַלְאָךְ אֶחָד. עָשָׂה מִצְוֹת הַרְבֵּה, מוֹסְרִין לוֹ מַלְאָכִים הַרְבֵּה לְשָׁמְרוֹ, כִּי מַלְאָכָיוּ יְצַוֶּה לָּךְ וְגוֹ' (תהלים צא, יא). כָּל זְמַן שֶׁאָדָם מַרְבֶּה בַּמִּצְוֹת, הוּא קֹנֶה שֵׁם טוֹב לְעַצְמוֹ. אַתְּ מוֹצֵא שְׁלֹשָׁה שֵׁמוֹת נִקְרְאוּ לוֹ לְאָדָם, אֶחָד מַה שֶּׁקּוֹרְאִים לוֹ אָבִיו וְאִמּוֹ, וְאֶחָד מַה שֶּׁקּוֹרְאִין לוֹ בְּנֵי אָדָם, וְאֶחָד מַה שֶּׁקּוֹנֶה הוּא לְעַצְמוֹ. טוֹב מִכֻּלָּן מַה שֶּׁקּוֹנֶה הוּא לְעַצְמוֹ.

And Moses said unto the children of Israel: “See, the Lord hath called by name Bezalel the son of Uri” (Exod. 35:30). May it please our masters to teach us: How far must a person go to eliminate mixed materials (shatnez)?1A biblical injunction prohibiting the wearing of a garment made of wool and linen. The law also proscribes the planting of heterogeneous plants in the same field. R. Simeon the son of Yohai concluded from the verse Neither shall there come upon thee a garment of two kinds of stuff mingled together (Lev. 19:19) that a man is prohibited from donning an outer garment of mixed material even though he puts it on over a hundred other garments. However, if he should put it on beneath his other garments, without the mixed material touching his body, he is permitted to do so, for it is said: Neither shall there come upon thee a garment of two kinds of stuff mingled together. The words upon thee signify that it may not be worn as an outer garment but that it may be placed underneath (i.e. closer to the body). The Holy One, blessed be He, said to Israel: Keep My commandments and My statues. Why? Because the consequence of a good deed is another good deed, but the result of committing a sin is another sin. Ben Azzai stated that one good deed results in another good deed, and one sin produces another sin. R. Meir said: For every good deed a man performs, an angel is assigned to watch over him. If he does one good deed, one angel is assigned to him, and if he performs many good deeds, many angels are assigned to him, as it is said: For he will give His angels charge over thee (Ps. 91:11). Every time a man increases the number of good deeds he performs, he adds to his good name. You find that a man is known by three names: the name by which his father and mother call him, the name by which other men call him, and the one he earns for himself; the most important name is the one he earns for himself.2His good deeds are apparent to all.

2 ב

תֵּדַע לְךָ, שֶׁהֲרֵי בְּצַלְאֵל עַל יְדֵי שֶׁקָּנָה שֵׁם טוֹב, זָכָה שֶׁיַּעֲשֶׂה מְלֶאכֶת הַמִּשְׁכָּן. וּכְתִיב: נִבְחָר שֵׁם מֵעֹשֶׁר רָב, מִכֶּסֶף וּמִזָּהָב חֵן טוֹב (משלי כב, א). מִנַּיִן, מִמַּה שֶּׁקָּרְאוּ בְּעִנְיַן רְאוּ קָרָא ה' בְּשֵׁם בְּצַלְאֵל.

You know this is so from the fact that Bezalel was granted the privilege of building the Tabernacle because he had earned a good name, as it is written: A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches, and loving favor rather than silver and gold (Prov. 22:1). Whence do we know this? From the name by which he called him: See, the Lord hath called by name Bezalel.3The name Bezalel can be read as betzal el “in the shadow of God.”

3 ג

זֶה שֶׁאָמַר הַכָּתוּב: טוֹב שֵׁם מִשֶּׁמֶן טוֹב וְיוֹם הַמָּוֶת מִיּוֹם הִוָּלְדוֹ (קהלת ז, א). אָמְרוּ לִשְׁלֹמֹה, מַהוּ טוֹב שֵׁם מִשֶּׁמֶן טוֹב. אָמַר לָהֶם: בְּשָׁעָה שֶׁאָדָם נוֹלָד, אֵין הַכֹּל יוֹדְעִין מִי הוּא. נִפְטַר בְּשֵׁם טוֹב, מַשְׁפִּיעַ מַעֲשֵׂים טוֹבִים, בָּאִין יִשְׂרָאֵל מִטַּפְּלִין עִמּוֹ, עוֹשִׂין עִמּוֹ גְּמִילוּת חֶסֶד. מַכְרִיזִין שִׁבְחָם וְאוֹמְרִים: פְּלוֹנִי זֶה כַּמָּה צְדָקוֹת כַּמָּה תוֹרָה כַּמָּה מִצְוֹת עָשָׂה, מִשְׁכָּבוֹ תְהֵא עִם הַצַּדִּיקִים.

Scripture states elsewhere: A good name is better than precious oil; and the day of death than the day of one’s birth (Eccles. 7:1). They asked Solomon: Why is a good name better than precious oil? He replied: When a man is born, no one knows what he will become, but when he leaves this world with a good name, good deeds become abundant because of him. The Israelites attend him, they perform deeds of charity, they extol him with praises, and they exclaim: “How righteous was so-and-so, and how wholeheartedly he fulfilled the law and performed good deeds.” May his sleep be with the righteous.

4 ד

וְלָמָּה לֹא אָמַר, טוֹב שֵׁם מִיֵּין הַטּוֹב וּמִדְּבַשׁ הַטּוֹב, וְהִנִּיחַ כָּל הַמַּשְׁקִין וְאָמַר מִשֶּׁמֶן טוֹב. אֶלָּא מַה הַשֶּׁמֶן אַתָּה נוֹתֵן לְתוֹכוֹ מַיִם שֶׁהוּא עוֹלֶה וְצָף לְמָעְלָה אֲבָל שְׁאָר מַשְׁקִין אַתְּ נוֹתֵן לְתוֹכָן מַיִם וְהֵן בּוֹלְעִין, כָּךְ בַּעַל שֵׁם טוֹב.

Why did Solomon not say: “A good name is better than wine or honey”? And why did he refrain from mentioning any other fluid except precious oil? Because of the fact that when you pour water into a bottle of oil it rises and floats to the surface, while other fluids are miscible with water. That is what happens to one who possesses a good name. He rises to a new level in his community.

5 ה

דָּבָר אַחֵר, טוֹב שֵׁם מִשֶּׁמֶן טוֹב. שֵׁם טוֹב עוֹלֶה, וְשֶׁמֶן טוֹב יוֹרֵד. שֵׁם טוֹב עוֹלֶה, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר: וְאֶעֶשְׂךָ לְגוֹי גָדוֹל, וַאֲגַדְּלָה שְׁמֶךָ (בראשית יב, ב). וְשֶׁמֶן טוֹב יוֹרֵד, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר: כַּשֶּׁמֶן הַטּוֹב עַל הָרֹאשׁ יֹרֵד (תהלים קלג, ב). שֶׁמֶן טוֹב, לְפִי שָׁעָה. וְשֵׁם טוֹב, לְעוֹלָם, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר: יְהִי שְׁמוֹ לְעוֹלָם לִפְנֵי שֶׁמֶשׁ יִנּוֹן שְׁמוֹ (תהלים עב, יז). וְכֵן אַתְּ אוֹמֵר בִּנְבִיאִים וַחֲכָמִים. שֶׁמֶן טוֹב כָּלֶה, וְשֵׁם טוֹב אֵינוֹ כָלֶה, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר: שֵׁם עוֹלָם אֶתֶּן לוֹ אֲשֶׁר לֹא יִכָּרֵת (ישעיה נו, ה).

Another comment on A good name is better than precious oil. A good name increases (among people), while precious oil descends. A good name arises, as it is written: And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee and make thy name great (Gen. 12:2), while precious oil flows downward, as it is said: It is like the precious oil upon the head (Ps. 133:2). Precious oil is transitory, while a good name is everlasting, as is said: May his name endure forever; may his name be continued as long as the sun (ibid. 72:17). This was said in reference to the prophets and the wise men. Precious oil may be destroyed, but a good name is indestructible, as it is said: I will give them an everlasting memorial, that they shall not be cut off (Isa. 56:5).

6 ו

שֶׁמֶן טוֹב, בַּעֲשִׁירִים. וְשֵׁם טוֹב, בַּעֲנִיִּים וּבַעֲשִׁירִים. שֵׁם טוֹב, בַּחַיִּים וּבַמֵּתִים. וְשֶׁמֶן טוֹב, בַּחַיִּים. שֶׁמֶן טוֹב, כַּמָּה הוֹלֵךְ, מִקִּיטוֹן לִטְרַקְלִין. וְשֵׁם טוֹב, מִסּוֹף הָעוֹלָם עַד סוֹפוֹ. שֶׁמֶן טוֹב נוֹפֵל עַל הַמֵּת וְהוּא מַבְאִישׁ, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר: זְבוּבֵי מָוֶת יַבְאִישׁ יַבִּיעַ שֶׁמֶן רוֹקֵחַ (קהלת י, א). וְשֵׁם טוֹב, נוֹפֵל עַל הַמֵּת וְאֵינוֹ מַבְאִישׁ, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר: וַיַּעַל וַיִּשְׁכַּב עַל הַיֶּלֶד וַיָּשֶׂם פִּיו עַל פִּיו וְעֵינָיו עַל עֵינָיו וְכַפָּיו עַל כַּפָּיו וַיִּגְהַר עָלָיו וַיָּחָם בְּשַׂר הַיָּלֶד (מלכים ב ד, לד). דָּבָר אַחֵר, שֶׁמֶן טוֹב נוֹפֵל עַל הַמַּיִם וְהוּא נִדָּח, שֵׁם אֵינוֹ נִדָּח, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר: וַיֹּאמֶר ה' לַדָּג וַיָּקֵא אֶת יוֹנָה אֶל הַיַּבָּשָׁה (יונה ב, יא). דָּבָר אַחֵר, שֶׁמֶן טוֹב נוֹפֵל עַל הָאוּר וְהוּא נִשְׂרָף, וְשֵׁם טוֹב נוֹפֵל עַל הָאוּר וְאֵינוֹ נִשְׂרָף, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר: בֵּאדַיִן נָפְקִין שַׁדְרַךְ מֵישַׁךְ וַעֲבֵד נְגוֹ (דניאל ג, כו).

Precious oil is possessed by men of wealth, but a good name may be attained by poor and rich alike. A good name adheres to the living and the dead, while precious oil exists for the living alone. The scent of precious oil may travel from the sleeping chamber to the anteroom, but a good name travels from one end of the earth to the other. When precious oil falls upon a corpse, it become putrid, as it is said: Dead flies make the oil of a perfumer fetid and putrid (Eccles. 10:1), but when a good name is possessed by a deceased person, it does not deteriorate, as is said: And he went up, and lay upon the child, and put his mouth upon his mouth, and his eyes upon his eyes, and his hands upon his hands, and he stretched himself out upon him; and the flesh of the child waxed warm (II Kings 4:34). Another explanation. When precious oil falls into water it floats away, but a good name does not float away, as is said: And the Lord spoke unto the fish, and it vomited out Jonah upon the dry land (Jonah 2:11). Another explanation. When precious oil falls into a fire, it is consumed, but when a good name falls into fire, it is not consumed, as is said: Then Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego came forth out of the midst of the fire (Dan. 3:26).

7 ז

אָמַר רַבִּי יְהוּדָה בַּר סִימוֹן, מָצִינוּ שֶׁבַעֲלֵי שֶׁמֶן טוֹב נִכְנְסוּ לִמְקוֹם הַחַיִּים וְיָצְאוּ מֵתִים. וּבַעֲלֵי שֵׁם טוֹב נִכְנְסוּ לִמְקוֹם הַמֵּתִים וְיָצְאוּ חַיִּים. נָדָב וַאֲבִיהוּא נִכְנְסוּ לְהַקְרִיב וְיָצְאוּ שְׂרוּפִים, וְהֵם מְשׁוּחִים בְּשֶׁמֶן הַמִּשְׁחָה. וּכְתִיב: וַתֵּצֵא אֵשׁ מִלִּפְנֵי ה' וַתֹּאכַל אוֹתָם (ויקרא י, ב). חֲנַנְיָה מִישָׁאֵל וַעֲזַרְיָה עָלוּ לְאַתּוּן נוּרָא וְיָצְאוּ חַיִּים, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר: בֵּאדַיִן נָפְקִין שַׁדְרַךְ מֵישַׁךְ וַעֲבֵד נְגוֹ מִן גּוֹא נוּרָא (דניאל ג, כו). וְיוֹם הַמָּוֶת מִיּוֹם הִוָּלְדוֹ (קהלת ז, א). נוֹלְדָה מִרְיָם, אֵין הַכֹּל יוֹדְעִין. מֵתָה, נִסְתַּלֵּק הַבְּאֵר. נוֹלַד אַהֲרֹן, אֵין הַכֹּל יוֹדְעִין. מֵת, נִסְתַּלֵּק עַמּוּד הֶעָנָן. נוֹלַד בְּצַלְאֵל, אֵין הַכֹּל יוֹדְעִין. נִתְמַנָּה לִמְלֶאכֶת הַמִּשְׁכָּן, יָדְעוּ אוֹתוֹ הַכֹּל. טוֹב שֵׁם מִשֶּׁמֶן טוֹב, טוֹב שְׁמוֹ שֶׁל בְּצַלְאֵל מִבְּנֵי אַהֲרֹן שֶׁנִּמְשְׁחוּ בְּשֶׁמֶן הַמִּשְׁחָה. שֶׁבְצַלְאֵל, הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא מֵעִיד עָלָיו, רְאוּ קָרָא ה' בְּשֵׁם בְּצַלְאֵל.

R. Judah the son of Simon stated: We find that one who possesses precious oil may enter a healthy place and come out a corpse, while the owner of a good name can enter a place of death and come out alive: Nadab and Abihu approached the altar to offer sacrifices, but they were consumed even though they were anointed with it, as is written: And there came forth fire from before the Lord and devoured them (Lev. 10:2). Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, on the other hand, went into the fire and came out alive, as it is said: Then Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego came forth out of the midst of the fire. And the day of death rather than the day of one’s birth (Exod. 7:1). When a child is born, no one can foresee the vicissitudes that may befall him, but at the time of his death everything about his life is known. When Miriam was born, no one was aware of it, but at her death the well disappeared.4See Taanit 4a. The well in the desert was given for Miriam’s sake. When Aaron was born, no one knew but when he died, the cloud of glory was removed;5Indicating that he had died and that his soul was lifted up by the cloud. when Bezalel was born, nobody knew but (before he died) he was called to build the Tabernacle. (After their deaths,) everyone knew these things. A good name is better than precious oil. Bezalel’s good name was more helpful to him than anointing oil to the sons of Aaron, for in the case of Bezalel, the Holy One, blessed be He, declared: See, the Lord hath called by name Bezalel.