ויאמר משה אל בני ישראל ראו קרא ד’ בשם בצלאל בן אורי בן חור למטה יהודה וימלא אותו רוח אלוקים בחכמה בתבונה ובדעת ובכל מלאכה Moshe said to the Jewish people see that Hashem has proclaimed by name Betzalel son of Uri the son of Chur from the tribe of Yehuda. He has filled him with a spirit from Hashem, with wisdom, insight and knowledge and with every craft.
The Medrash discusses this pasuk, explaining that in this world Hashem says My spirit gives wisdom, however in the future my spirit will bring you life. The Ateres Mordechai (Rabbi Mordechai Rogow) clarifies that to understand this Medrash, we need to understand what seems to be a contradiction between two Chazals. The Mishna at the end of Messechtas Makkos tells us in the name of R’ Chanania ben Akashia that Hashem wants us to gain merits and therefore He gives us more Torah and mitzvos to do. On the other hand, the Yerushalmi indicates that had we not sinned, we would have received only the 5 books of the Torah and sefer Yehoshua. This makes it seem that we only received more Torah because we sinned. How do we reconcile these two Chazals?
The Ateres Mordechai answers by pointing out that throughout the generations in every area people have been making advancements and inventions. He wonders why that is. Is it due to the greater intellect that people had over the previous generations? He answers that it is due to the fact that as the generations advance, they are not satisfied with the status quo and feel the need to make improvements. The earlier generation did not achieve these advancements not because they weren’t as bright, but because they didn’t feel that they were lacking in this area and, therefore, didn’t put the effort into inventing the improvement. This idea can be extrapolated to spiritual endeavors as well: innovation comes from necessity. Avraham Aveinu had the ability to understand the entire Torah before it was given because to him it was an absolute necessity, as essential as eating and drinking. Therefore, he invested tremendous time and effort into learning the Torah even before it was given.
With this understanding, we can reconcile the two Chazals. Had we never sinned, Hashem would not have had to give us the Torah. We would have felt that it was something we could not live without and, therefore, we would have been dedicated to knowing all of the Torah and mitzvos just as Avraham had. Now that we have sinned, we don’t have that feeling and, therefore, we only learn Torah and do mitzvos because Hashem told us to do so.
This is also the idea from the Medrash in this week’s parsha. In this world, where we have not reached our full potential, Hashem has to give us Torah, and we need to learn it, in order to know how to go about our lives. If we didn’t have the Torah to guide us, we would not feel the lack in our lives. In the next world, the Torah will go beyond just telling us how to live. Rather, it will be our life itself- meaning we will understand how wonderful Torah is, and, just as we realize that in this world we weren’t able to live without food or water, we will realize we also could not live without Torah.