BLOG WITH RABBI JUDIAHAVAH
Rabbi JudiAhavah DelBourgo
March 12, 2021
The Source of Life gives directions to us to build a
place for that Source to dwell and commune with us.
Moses tells the people a certain artist is chosen to
oversee the task: "Look, God has chosen Bezalel"…
Re’u, Look… (35:30) Why say "Look?" Why not
simply say "God chose Bezalel"?
The Ishbitzer Rebbe, R. Mordechai Leiner taught
that the word re’u, see, when used in the Torah, is a
keyword that means to look beyond the superficial
appearance of things. It tells us to discern some
deeper meaning. In Gematria, the system of
numerical value for each Hebrew letter, the word
re’u has the same value as the word “raz”, secret.
So, what is the secret Torah is pointing us towards?
Let’s go to the very next line of our Torah reading.
It says God filled this man Bezalel with the spirit of
God- in wisdom, in understanding, and in
knowledge. What could the word "see" in that first
line, have to do with wisdom, understanding and
The Ishbitzer Rebbe lived during the 19th century.
It was an amazing time of rapid growth in science.
Two centuries earlier, the 17th century brought
Galileo’s and Newton’s ideas to the scene, the 18th
century continued to build on these ideas during
And with the influence of the Enlightenment, many
different schools of philosophic thought emerged.
In the early 20th century, Franz Rosenzweig entered
onto the scene. He was a Jew, although he did not
always want to be a Jew (Perhaps you might relate?
Clearly that was before you had the powerful
Makom Ohr Shalom spiritual experience!)
Rosenzweig was a philosopher, yet he warned
against too much philosophy. He warned against
the temptation to substitute the study of things and
the labeling of things for the actual essence of them.
In one of his books, he spent pages addressing how
we could decide what butter is in a philosophical
sense. Eventually, he warned, we would end up
losing touch with the very essence of the butter! He
argued that philosophizing too much can "stagnate”
the stream of life. We can do the same with
religious ideas. Very often, ironically, in trying to
name God, we can lose the very essence of God.
Rosenzweig believed the desire to name God
through philosophical reasoning stemmed from fear.
Fear of what? Think about what you're most afraid
of…….. besides taxes, moving, public speaking...
Ultimately, thought Rosenzweig, philosophy is an
attempt to elude the fear of death. The end of life is
the ultimate thing many of us fear because it is
something we have no control over.
What is most ironic is that Rosenzweig himself
seemed to live life fearlessly: He developed ALS,
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis: Lou Gehrig’s
disease. Even with the disease, he continued to
write with the help and patience of his wife who
developed a system with him. Brilliant and brave
ideas came from this man, who did not lose his
sense of wonder. Think of Steven Hawking, also
affected by ALS, one of the most brilliant physicists,
who also had a grand sense of wonder.
Both believed God is a given. According to
Rosenzweig, life is about a real relationship between
God and people; life is not only theorizing about
God so we can appease our fears. It is so much
more than that. Indeed, it is of great value to study
and theorize the Why and How of the universe. Yet,
at some point we have to take a leap of faith,
according to Rosenzweig, otherwise we miss seeing
what truly is.
Many of you are familiar with Lake Balboa. A
beautiful place. One day, years ago while studying
in rabbinical school, I took my books to Lake
Balboa. Focused on learning, wanting to see what
these books had to tell me, I became very absorbed.
A friend called, and I welcomed the break. As we
talked, my friend remarked at how amazing the
birds sounded. I was so caught up in my studies I
hadn't even noticed! I looked up to see all the birds
around me- many in a beautiful blossoming tree
which I had parked myself under. I had not noticed
the tree either! There studying Torah, the spiritual
compass from The Blessed Holy One, I was first
oblivious to the birds and blossoms, yet then I was
finally able to "look" as Torah compels us to. Re’u!
I could have looked around and instead I focused on
the reclaimed water that is used to fill the lake. I
could have used the intellect of the mind to
remember that we live in an extremely dry climate.
Those are important pieces of information, are they
not? No one would want to drink the water at the
lake. It might remind us to conserve water. Yet if I
got caught only in the why and how of the
experience, I would have lost something. As I sat
facing the blossoming tree and the manmade lake,
with the red winged black birds, geese, ducks,
starlings and a variety of others, I realized the
importance of not getting stuck in the analysis of
why and how. Sometimes it’s important to look and
simply experience the wonder around us.
Re’u! Look! Look for the hidden and the
miraculous. That is how we build a dwelling place
for the Blessing Holy One. Remember not to get too
caught in the analysis - Just enjoy the wonder!