Friday, June 6, 2014

Exodus: Chapter 31

Artist as  minister
The wise of heart 

Breath in divinity
and make
Exhale and rest
the doing of being
filling and  hollowing

[For full chapter, click here
This chapter can’t help but be a favorite. 
“I have called the name of Bezalel… and have filled him with the spirit of God, with wisdom, intuition and knowledge, and every kind of craft (melaha—the leitword of this chapter).”  Here, the Bible introduces its archetypal artisan. Creativity is presented as divinely inspired, an act that is conceptual and mental as much as it is craft and material: “to think thoughts / and to do (la-asot) every craft.” It is the realm of the “wise of heart,” who are “given” divine wisdom.   Bezalel can understand and create the realms of “gold, silver and bronze,” can bring into fruition what “God has commanded.”
Bezalel-as-artisan is presented as an ur- Kohen -priest. It is only he who can create the clothing that will consecrate the priests.  Like Aaron, he is called by name. Like Aaron and his sons, he is “filled” (milui—the key word of the consecration chapter).
Human creativity is presented here as a reflection of divine creativity. The calling of Bezalel is followed by a reiteration of the Sabbath.  “Six days you shall do (ta-ase)  craft (melaha) and the seventh is a rest holy to God…. For six days God created (asa) the heavens and the earth, and on the seventh he rested (va-yinafash).va-Yinafash, lit, was ensouled, breathed, is a play on that initial "spirit" of God that  inspires  (literally, "breathed in") Bezalel. 
The Sabbath introduces another level of creativity, a passive “keeping” that balances that active “doing.” This divine rest is not that “filling” that inspires Bezalel, but rather an avoidance of “emptying” (lehalel—to empty, to desecrate).  Whereas the divinely inspired creativity is open only to the “wise of heart,” the guardianship of the Sabbath is aimed at all the “children of Israel.” It is a level of being, rather than an act.] 

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