Hashem’s Hand in Troubled Times: Insights from Chur, Bezalel, Esther, and the Hidden Plan

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by R. Eliezer Simcha Weisz

There is so much grief, loss, and suffering that we are baffled by the age-old question of “why do the righteous suffer and why do the wicked prosper?” G_d’s plans are beyond our immediate comprehension. In Shemos (33:23), G-d speaks to Moshe, saying “And you will see My back, but My face shall not be seen, וראית את אחורי ופני לא יראו.” Full comprehension of the Divine is beyond human capability. Just as Moshe could only see “G-d’s back”, symbolizing a partial understanding of the Divine plan in hindsight, we too may only grasp fragments of the greater design in our lives. This concept underscores the idea that while we may not comprehend the full extent of G-d’s intentions at  the  moment, with time and reflection, we may gain  some insight into the underlying purpose and meaning behind events.

God’s plans are beyond our grasp. It is through patience, faith, and reflection that we may come to understand and appreciate the wisdom and purpose behind His actions, just as Moshe glimpsed “G-d’s back”, but not “His face”.

In this week’s parsha, Vayakhel, we have a superb example. There is a verse (similar to one found in Parshas Ki Sisa) which reads “See, G-d has designated with a name Betzalel son of Uri son of Chur” (Shemos 35:30). Betzalel was the “general contractor” of the Mishkan. On three occasions (Shemos 35:30 ,36:2,38:22) exceptionally, the Torah makes a point of tracing the  lineage of a person not only to his father (Uri) but also to  his grandfather(Chur). This unusual mentioning of father and grandfather is obviously intentional in order  to indicate a connection between the actions  and character of Chur, Betzalel’s grandfather, and the doings of Betzalel. Chur was the son of Miriam (Rashi 35:30)  herself a leader with a strong dedicated and devoted  personality to her causes .Chur was the individual who stood up and objected vociferously to the construction of the Golden Calf. He paid for this protest with his life killed by the mob. It would  seem that Chur sacrificed his life in vain. Nothing was accomplished by his death. He tried to stop the Bnei Yisrael from making the Golden Calf, but they made it anyway. By repeatedly tracing Betzalel’s lineage back to Chur, the Torah is emphasizing that Chur did not die in vain.

Due to his exceptional connection to G-d, Betzalel possessed the quality of “b’tzel Kel” (in the shadow of G-d ), making him the perfect choice for constructing the Mishkan. “From where did Betzalel inherit this quality of “b’tzel Kel”? By taking his genealogy back to Chur, the Torah emphasizes that these qualities did not come from just anywhere. They are qualities that he inherited from his grandfather. That quality that Chur exhibited — a willingness to give his life for G-d’s Honor — was transferred through his son Uri to his grandson Betzalel. We always tend to consider the “bottom line”: Did Chur accomplish anything or not? Did he or did he not prevent the sin? Based on this narrow evaluation, Chur was a failure. The Golden Calf  was made anyway. However, that narrow view is based on our view of the world. In G-d’s world, that is not the end of the story. A grandfather’s dedication and sacrifice, which during its time may have been seen as futile, may still have a major impact on the potential accomplishments of future generations. Moreover, our Sages say that the Mishkan was an atonement for the sin of the Golden Calf (Rashi Shemos  35:21). This atonement was brought about through the efforts of Betzalel, who himself came from Chur. Thus, Chur played a crucial role in the atonement for the sin he tried to prevent. Ultimately, Chur did stop the Golden Calf — he stopped its effect, by providing for its atonement. The lesson of this verse is that we should not always look for instant success or explanation. Chur’s accomplishment was not perceived at the time, but Chur did, in effect, provide the atonement for the sin of the Golden Calf. This is the reason for the emphasis on the word “Re-u” (See) which introduces Betzalel. ראו קרא ה’ בשם בצלאל (שמות ל”ה  ל’) Re-u means – think about it; SEE how life sometimes works. The message of hope derived from these teachings is profound. The concept of “ראית את אחרי ופני לא יראו” underscores this idea beautifully. It reminds us that we may not always understand the purpose or significance of events in the moment. This is what the Chasam Sofer writes:

 וראית את אחורי ופני לא יראו – (שמות ל”ג:כ”ג)
כי לא כל דבר מבינים אנו את פשרו ותכליתו. ישנם דברים שבתחילה נראים תמוהים ובלתי מובנים, ורק לאחר זמן מה מתברר עניינם, ומבין האדם למפרע למה באו

For not all things do we understand their interpretation and purpose. There are things that initially appear perplexing and incomprehensible, and only after some time do their matters become clear, and one understands why they occurred.

Moreover, the story of Purim provides another example of this principle in action. The events of Purim, as recounted in the Book of Esther, initially appear to be a series of unrelated and seemingly random occurrences. Esther, a Jewish woman, becomes queen of Persia, while her relation  Mordecai uncovers a plot to assassinate the king. Meanwhile, Haman, a high-ranking official, plots to exterminate the Jewish people.

Yet, as the story unfolds, it becomes clear that each seemingly insignificant detail serves a purpose in God’s grand design. Esther’s position as queen enables her to intercede on behalf of her people, while Mordecai’s loyalty to the king ultimately leads to Haman’s downfall. What initially appears to be a series of unfortunate events culminates in the salvation of the Jewish people and the celebration of Purim.

For bereaved parents and orphaned children who have experienced loss and struggle to see the whole picture in their grief for all those suffering and bleeding from the terrible war, the stories of Chur, Bezalel, Esther, and Mordechai may provide  some solace and reassurance. These narratives remind them that even in times of darkness and despair, there is a Divine Plan and their suffering is not in vain .

As they navigate the complexities of grief and loss, may they take heart in the knowledge that their loved ones’ legacies live on through them, shaping future generations and contributing to the hope for the survival and  redemption of the Jewish People. And may they find comfort in the enduring wisdom of “וראית את אחרי ופני לא יראו,” trusting in G-d’s plan for healing and renewal in their lives.

הַרְנִ֤ינוּ גוֹיִם֙ עַמּ֔וֹ כִּ֥י דַם־עֲבָדָ֖יו יִקּ֑וֹם
O nations, acclaim this people!
For [God] will avenge the blood of these servants
(דברים פרק לב פסוק מג)

About Eliezer Simcha Weisz

Rabbi Eliezer Simcha Weisz is a member of The Chief Rabbinate Council of Israel

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