There is a tendency in our society that leads some of us (most notably our kids and teenagers) to admire (and sometimes even idolize) athletes, popular musicians, and other stars from stage and screen. But what about promoting a sense of respect for the unsung heroes in today's world, whose understated activities might go relatively unnoticed? The suggestion to "Be like Mike," has a nice ring to it. It flows. It rhymes. But "Be like Bezalel" doesn't seem to have the same ring. It doesn't resonate in quite the same way. But maybe it should.
Who was Bezalel and why is he important? Bezalel son of Uri, son of Hur of the tribe of Judah was, according to the Torah, "...endowed with a divine spirit of skill, ability and knowledge in every kind of craft." He was a designer who worked with gold, silver and copper, a stonecutter, a wood carver, a weaver and an embroiderer. He was an expert craftsman, renowned for his abilities. He had apprentices who learned their trade from him, and were able to excel similarly.
But while Bezalel is credited with the construction of the Mishkan (Tabernacle), the Ark for the housing of the tablets, and related objects, what is most remarkable is that the construction project is never "about him." Torah does not spend a great amount of time telling us about Bezalel; rather Torah tells us about Bezalel's achievements and accomplishments, his hard work and dedication, and how he devoted himself to a higher purpose. The end result is what matters, namely, how Bezalel used his skills, wisdom, knowledge, and enlightenment to create a place where the Torah would be appropriately housed.
Additionally, Bezalel's efforts were collaborative, not singular. He partnered with Oholiab and worked with "every skilled person whom the Lord had endowed with skill." In other words, Bezalel might have been the first person to admit, "There's no "I" in team." He wasn't alone in the special work of constructing the Mishkan, and he couldn't complete the sacred task before him on his own.
Bezalel's talents continue to inspire us today, reminding us that our actions must speak louder than our words, and that focusing on the project rather than self-promotion, living with humility, being one of those "unsung heroes," yields great results too. While it is customary to bless our sons at the Shabbat dinner table, "May God make you like Ephraim and Manasseh," and our daughters, "May God make you like Sarah, Rebecca, Leah and Rachel," maybe, just maybe, there is also a place for us to say, "Be like Bezalel," and in so doing, remember the creativity, workmanship, and tireless dedication of one of Torah's unsung heroes.
 Exodus 35:31 and following.
 Exodus 36:2.