In Parashat Ki Tisa (Shemot 31:3), Hashem tells Moshe regarding Betzalel, “VaAmalei Oto Ruach Elokim,” “And I will fill him (Betzalel) with the ‘Spirit of Hashem.’” How is it possible to be or not be filled with the Spirit of Hashem (the Shechinah)? Isn’t Hashem’s presence all-encompassing, as we say each day in Kedushah, “Melo Chol HaAretz Kevodo,” “The entire world is full of his glory” (Yeshayah 6:3)?
The Aruch LaNeir (quoted in Praying with Fire) compares the Shechinah to the sun. Rav Eliyahu Dessler in Michtav MeiEliyahu uses this comparison to explain why most people don’t feel the Shechinah in their everyday lives. We, the receivers of the “rays of the sun,” have polluted windows (hearts). Therefore, the more one cleans his heart by improving his character, the more the light of the sun will enter. It therefore makes sense to say that Betzalel, who was a great Tzaddik, was able to be filled with the Shechinah because he did an excellent job improving himself.
Perhaps this idea of self-improvement can explain a puzzling Midrash in the Parasha. The Midrash, quoted by Rashi (30:13 s.v. Zeh), states that Hashem showed Moshe the Machatzit HaShekel as a “coin of fire.” Why would Hashem show the appearance of the coin in fire? Couldn’t He just have showed it to him as a regular coin? A possible reason for this is that one of the main purposes of fire is to burn an object until it melts or evaporates, leaving its true essence. Hashem was telling Moshe that Bnei Yisrael cannot just give the Machatzit HaShekel; rather, they first have to “burn” all other obstacles that may harm their quality of giving the Shekel, so as to be able to do the Mitzvah with a Leiv Shaleim, a full heart.
The message is clear. We, like Betzalel, have to probe ourselves and our actions so as to improve our characters. As a result of this, we will not only live happier lives, but also merit to feel the presence of the Shechinah with us at all times.