There are many names throughout the Tanach and Divrei Chazal that end with “El.” This ending signifies that these people have some element of Godliness in their character. Generally, these names are those of angels, such as Gavriel and Michael, names given by Hashem, like Yisrael and Yishmael, or names given because of divine service, such as Shmuel. In the last few Parshiot of Sefer Shmot, including this week’s Parsha, we have another instance of such a name – Betzalel, the primary builder of the Mishkan. How did Betzalel earn his name?
To answer this question, we need look no further than a Rashi on the second Pasuk of the Parsha. Rashi wonders why it is necessary to add that Betzalel did “according to everything Hashem had commanded Moshe.” Would it not have been sufficient to say that he did “as Hashem had commanded Moshe?” Rashi explains that the word “Kol,” “everything,” teaches that Betzalel not only did all that Hashem had told Moshe and also what Hashem had not told Moshe. Hashem first commanded the building of the Kelim, the vessels of the Mishkan, and only then discussed the actual structure of the Mishkan. However, Betzalel first built the Mishkan structure and only then did he create the Kelim, reasoning, according to Rashi, that it would not make sense to build the furniture before first building the house. Because he used his powers of reasoning, Moshe commented that Betzalel lived “in the shadow of Hashem,” which enabled him to deduce Hashem’s true will. Betzalel thus merited his name, which literally means “in the shadow of God,” by serving Hashem with his mind.
This clearly demonstrates the importance of thought. Betzalel was rewarded for thinking instead of merely following blindly. Just think of what we can accomplish if we simply use our minds!