Tehillim on the Parsha: Vayakhel: God’s Light
“And Betzalel made the Ark (Exodus 37:1).” This is what is described in the verse in Psalms (119:130), “The introduction of Your words illuminates, making simpletons understand.” At the time that the Holy One, Blessed is He, created his world, all was water covered by water, as the verse in Genesis (1:2) says, “And darkness was over the face of the deep.”
Rabbi Judah and Rabbi Nehemiah debated this verse: Rabbi Judah taught that the light was created first before the world, and only afterward the rest of creation. We can compare this to a King who wanted to build a palace but the place was all dark. What did he do? He lit candles and torches to know where he should lay the foundations. So too, God first created the light, and only then created the rest.
Rabbi Nehemiah taught that the world was created first, not the light. We can compare this to at King who finished a palace and upon completing his home lit candles throughout the entire building.
Rabbi Shimon the son of Yehotzadak asked Rabbi Samuel the son of Nachman, he said to him I have heard about you that you are one who understands the verses. From where was the light created? Rabbi Samuel answered him, “The holy one, Blessed is He, wrapped himself in a cloak and the entire world from beginning to end was illuminated from its light, as the verse in Psalms (104:2) says, “He wraps himself in light like a cloak,” and only afterward, “He stretches out the heavens like a curtain.” Therefore our verse says, “The introduction of Your words illuminates,” from God all the righteous learned how to begin, to begin with light.
So you find at the time that the Holy One, Blessed is He, said to Moses that he shall make the tabernacle, Betzalel said with what shall I begin?” He began with the Ark as the verse says, and they made the Ark (Exodus 25:10).”
The Midrash is teaching us that we must always approach our service of God and begin with light, a commitment to illuminate the world with our words, our actions, our Torah study. Our intention must be to bring God’s light, His presence, to the world, so that all will see more of God’s presence in the world as a result of all we do.