In today’s world, the most heralded of celebrities are those known by a single name, such as Oprah, Kobe, or Madonna. Similarly, whenever one hears the name Betzalel, one immediately thinks of the chief builder of the Mishkan, appointed by Hashem in last week’s Parsha, Ki Tisa. Interestingly, however, as Moshe relays this appointment to Bnei Yisrael for the first time, and even for several times afterward, Betzalel is referred to as “Betzalel ben Uri ben Chur.” Rav Yissocher Frand asks an obvious question: why does the Torah make a point of introducing Betzalel’s heritage every time he appears? What was the true purpose of repeating the lineage of the ever-famous Betzalel, constructor of the most sacred structure in the Midbar?
Chur, Betzalel’s grandfather, was tragically killed by the Israelite mob as a result of his vehement protests against Bnei Yisrael’s actions at Har Sinai leading up to Cheit HaEigel. In fact, many Mefarshim believe that the death of Chur was what caused Aharon to relent and construct the golden calf. At first glance, Chur’s sacrifice seems pointless, as despite his best efforts, Bnei Yisrael still sinned by worshipping the Eigel HaZahav. The nation was nevertheless sentenced to forty years of wandering in the desert and endured much hardship despite Chur’s death. By repeatedly retracing the great Betzalel’s lineage to his grandfather, the Torah emphasizes that Chur did not die in vain; his sacrifice merited the reward of a grandson who would be the main builder of the Mishkan.
Chazal teach that Hashem chose Betzalel as the constructor of the Mishkan because he was created “BeTzeil Keil,” “in the shadow of God,” as his name states. Betzalel was not chosen because he was a great architect or planner, but rather because he had special qualities which generated a unique connection to Hashem. Such a connection was necessary in order to create a resting place for Hakadosh Baruch Hu. Where did this mysterious “connection” to Hashem come from? It emerged from his lineage. Betzalel inherited the invaluable trait of Mesirut Nefesh from Chur, a statement supported by the Torah’s constant repetition of Betzalel’s ancestry. Chur gave himself up for what he felt was right, and was thus honored with a grandson with credentials like Betzalel’s.
Overall, Chur did not accomplish what he set out to do – that is, to save Bnei Yisrael from sinning with the Eigel. But Chazal teach us that the Mishkan was actually a Kaparah, atonement, for the Cheit HaEigel. Since Betzalel, builder of the Mishkan, descended from Chur as a result of his sacrifice, it was as if Chur’s action brought about the atonement for the Cheit. Therefore, Chur technically accomplished his initial goal, that of stopping the effect of the Eigel on Am Yisrael.
A powerful message can be gleaned from Chur and Betzalel. Nowadays, everyone demands instant gratification and wants everything done as soon as possible, which is the motivation for the invention of most of modern technology. If one cannot see results immediately, it is as if his efforts were completely in vain. However, from Chur we see that even if one’s actions do not have a direct impact, they may still pay off in the long run.
--Adapted from a Dvar Torah by Rabbi Yissocher Frand