ayavei es haAron el haMishkan vayasem es paroches hamasach vayasech al Aron haEidus ka’asher tzivah Hashem es Moshe (40:21) The Baal HaTurim in his commentary on this verse notes that the Torah emphasizes that every single aspect of the construction and assembly of the Mishkan was done precisely as Hashem had commanded Moshe. In fact, the phrase “as Hashem had commanded Moshe” is used 18 times in our parsha. As there are no coincidences in Torah, he suggests that this number alludes to the 18 blessings recited thrice-daily in the Amidah. I heard a beautiful understanding of the Baal HaTurim’s explanation. Hashem told Moshe (31:1-5) that Betzalel should be in charge of the building of the Mishkan, for He had imbued him with Divine wisdom and with expert skills of craftsmanship. We are accustomed to viewing artists as those who are free-thinking and creative, valuing self-expression over adherence to strict rules and guidelines. As many of the requirements for the Mishkan weren’t absolute, one might have expected Betzalel, with his “artistic spirit,” to improvise and attempt to “improve” upon Hashem’s blueprint. Therefore, the Torah stresses that he followed every instruction to the last detail. Similarly, many people today complain that they feel constrained by the standard text of our daily prayers established almost 2000 years ago. As our daily needs change, they feel, so too should our expression of them. However, based on the Baal HaTurim’s comparison of the daily prayers to the construction of the Mishkan and its vessels, we may suggest that on a deeper level, he is hinting to us that we also need not feel stifled by the repeated expression of our entreaties in the exact same phrases.

Just as Betzalel followed Hashem’s precise guidelines for the creation of the Mishkan and still found room for creative expression by doing so with his own unique intentions and insights, so too our Rabbis established the standard wording of the prayers with Divine Inspiration, articulating within them every sentiment we may wish to express.

Many times, in the middle of a difficult situation, we begin the standard prayers with a heavy heart, only to find a new interpretation of the words which we have recited thousands of times jump out at us, perfectly fit to the sentiments we wish to express.

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