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Vol. 13 No. 19
Who Supports Whom?
(Based on the Meshech Chochmah)
On the Pasuk "In the rings of the Aron the poles shall be, they shall not be moved" (25:15), Chazal comment that anyone who removes them at any time, receives Malkos. Both in connection with the Mizbei'ach ho'Olah and the Shulchan, the Torah confines the poles being in place to when the Vessels are actually being transported, and it is only the Aron whose poles have to remain in place permanently.
The Meshech Chochmah ascribes this to the Medrash, which states that the Aron represents the Crown of Torah, which is available to whoever wishes to wear it. The Talmid-Chacham, he explains, requires constant support (as Chazal have said in Pirkei Avos 'If there is no flour, there is no Torah'). That is why the Gemara in Pesachim (53b) praises those who help Talmidei-Chachamim by means of lending them money with which to do business. And that is why the Gemara says in Yuma (72b) that the community is obliged to do the Talmid-Chacham's work. And it also explains why the Yerushalmi in Sotah (7:4) praises someone who himself, is unable to learn, teach or to observe Mitzvos, yet, in spite of his poor financial situation, he supports those who do learn Torah.
And all of this is hinted in the poles, which permanently support the Aron (thereby representing the supporters of Torah whose assistance is contantly required).
Another explanation he bases on the Rambam, who obligates the Kohanim to kindle the Menorah in the Beis-Hamikdash not only at night, but also by day (as the Hatovas ha'Neiros [preparing the lights] he maintains, incorporates lighting them). This is logical, explains the Meshech Chochmah, since Chazal have pointed out that G-d, in whose House the Menorah is lit, does not require human lights by which to see! And it is in order to emphasize this that He commanded the Mitzvah of Hadlokas Neiros in the day, when lamps are futile, indicating that the Mitzvah of kindling the Menorah in the Beis Hamidkash is not to supply His needs, for some other undisclosed reason. By the same token then, now that Chazal have taught us that the Aron carried itself, and did not need the B'nei Kehos to carry it, the Torah commanded that the poles should not be removed. This serves as an ongoing reminder that just as the poles are not required when the Aron is lying in its place in the Kodesh ha'Kodshim, so too, were they not required when K'lal Yisrael were traveling in the Desert, since the Aron was perfectly capable of carrying itself.
Perhaps we can take the message from the Meshech Chochmah's second explanation, and adapt it to elaborate on the first one.
If the Aron was able to lift up the Kohanim who were seemingly carrying it, and fly them over the River Yardein, say Chazal, then it was certainly able to carry itself. And so it is with Torah. It is well able to look after itself, and provide the Talmidei-Chachamim who study it diligently, with all their needs. Then why does the Torah expect the wealthy to support them, as we explained? Because the truth of the matter is that it is not they who support the Torah, but the Torah which supports them! And the prohibition of removing the poles from the Aron is not because the Talmidei-Chachamim need them constantly, but rather because they constantly need the Torah-learning of the Talmidei-Chachamim, not only for the spiritual inspiration and guidance that it affords them, but for their continued success in their financial endeavours. For who knows whether their material blessing is not conditional to their sharing it with Talmidei-Chachamim, and that, the moment they withdraw their support, that blessing will come to an end?
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The Right to Give
"From every man whose heart is willing you shall take My gift" (25:2).
There is a Halachah in Shulchan Aruch, says the Magid of Pressburg, that if one philanthropist wishes to pay for a communal Shul out of his own pocket, the building committee must refuse his offer, since the possibility of anyone who wishes to participate in the building must be left open.
And this Halachah is hinted in this Pasuk, he explains. Whoever wishes to donate towards building a House for the Shechinah, must be allowed to do so.
It's the Goodwill that Counts
The truth of the matter is that 'all silver and gold belong to G-d' (anyway), in which case nobody can really give Him anything, says the Toras Moshe. The only thing that one can really give Him is one's goodwill. That is why the Torah says here "From every man whose heart is willing you shall take My gift", because without the goodwill, the gift is meaningless.
This concept is remarkably similar to what Chazal say 'Everything is in the Hands of G-d, except for the Fear of G-d'.
B'rachah MustTake Effect
"And you shall place on the Shulchan Show-bread before Me permanently" (28:30).
From the time that G-d created the world out of nothing, B'rachah cannot take effect on nothing. There must be something there before a B'rachah for more can take place, says the Ramban. Now the source of material blessing in this world was the Shulchan. That is why it was essential for the Lechem ha'Panim to be on it at all times. If, at any given time, it was removed, then the entire world would be devoid of B'rachah at that moment.
All From the Torah Itself
"Its knobs and its flowers (of the Menorah) shall be from it" (28:31).
There are Maskilim (from the Reform) who, before discussing Divrei Torah, introduce their words with thoughts taken from secular sources, says the Toras Moshe.
That, he explains, is why the Torah writes "Its knobs and its flowers shall be from it". Even the blooms and the flowers of the Menorah (which represents the oral Torah) must come from the Torah itself. It does not require secular ideas to bring it to life.
Cooking One's Own Children
"Beaten (mikshoh)you shall make them (the Keruvim)" 25:18.
The Sh'loh ha'Kodosh used to translate the Pasuk in Eichah "The hands of the merciful mothers cooked their (own) children", to mean that mothers who treat their children with kid-gloves, ruin them. Much in the same vein as the Pasuk in Mishlei "Spare the rod and spoil the child". In today's modern world, it is generally accepted that, for the most part, hitting a child causes more harm than good. That does not mean however, that a child should be pampered. He must still be brought up strictly (but with love). And, bearing in mind that the Keruvim were made in the form of children, we can extrapolate this from the current Pasuk, which, if we interpret "Mikshoh" as 'tough' (which, as we explained, nowadays tends to replace beaten), can be translated as 'Make them tough', in other words, 'Don't pamper them!'
It Depends Which Way
"And their (the Keruvims') faces turned towards one another" (25:20).
Another Pasuk writes "And their faces turned towards the house".
To resolve this discrepancy, Chazal establish the first Pasuk when Yisrael are performing the will of Hashem, and the second Pasuk, when they are not.
When two Jews look towards one another (i.e. take interest in each other's needs), that is synonymous with performing the will of G-d. But when each one looks only at his own house (to see to his own needs and not concern himself with anybody else), that is called not performing the will of G-d, says the K'sav Sofer. Either way, this was reflected in the position of the two Keruvim (Cherubs).
"And you shall make for it a border" (25:25).
The Shulchan, the K'li Yakar explains, symbolizes the food that we eat. The Torah is warning us here, he says, to place limits on how much we eat; to eat modestly, and not to turn our meals into extreme culinary experiences.
Serving G-d with Warmth
"The Lechem ha'Panim shall be before Me always" (25:30).
The Torah writes in connection with the Lechem ha'panim "Hot when it was taken", from which Chazal learn that it was as hot when it was removed from the Shulchan as when it placed there.
There are many Jews, says R. Yosef Shaul Natanson, who get very excited when they begin performing Mitzvos. As time passes however, they cool down slowly but surely, like regular bread, which comes out of the oven hot, but which gradually loses its heat.
From the Lechem ha'Panim we can learn, he says, that in the service of G-d, we need to retain ones' heat with the passing of time, so that our enthusiasm does not wane. As Rashi explains in the second Parshah of the Sh'ma " ... My Mitzvos, that I am commanding you today" - 'each and every day they should be fresh (as if they have been commanded that today)!'
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Connecting Heaven and Earth
The commentaries, comparing the Mishkan's three sections, the Azarah, the Kodesh (known as 'the Heichal' in the Beis-Hamikdash) and the Kodesh Kodshim (alias the D'vir) to the three worlds - this world, the world of the sun and moon ... , and that of the angels (the Aron ha'Kodesh, incidently, corresponds to the Kisei ha'Kovod [the fourth world]). These in turn, correspond to the three 'Olomos' mentioned in 'Yehei Sh'meih Rabah ... ' (whereas 'Sh'meih Rabah' [His Great Name] corresponds to the Olom ha'Kisei]).
Here are some other threes that fit into the same pattern ...
The ladder in Yaakov's dream
1. The Foot:
3. The Angels
(4.Hashem standing over him = G-d's Throne)
1. Mizbei'ach ha'Olah….(Korbonos: animals and plants 2. Shulchan, Menorah, Mizbe'ach ha'Zohov….. (constellations that govern the world) 3. The Keruvim
(World of the Angels) (4. the Aron [Kisei ha'Kovod])
1. Teva (nature).. 2. Chiyus (life).. Dibur (speech) (4. Machshavah)
1. Nefesh 2. Ru'ach 3. Neshamah (4.Chayah, Yechidah)
1. Guf (body) 2. Leiv (heart) 3. Rosh (head)
1. Birchas ha'Shachar 2. Pesukei d'Zimra 3. K'rias Shema (4. The Amidah)
Dovid Ha'Melech said in Tehillim (103:20)
3. "Borchu Hashem Mal'achav
2. Borchu Hashem kol Tzeva'av
1. Borchu Hashem kol ma'asav".
And these same three worlds are depicted in the Mizmor that we say each morning in Pesukei de'Zimrah "Halelukah, Halelu es Hashem min ha'Shamayim", where we call out to each of the various creatures in the three worlds to praise Hashem.
Here is a re-print of the main article in vol. 5, which discusses much of the above in more detail.
The Three Worlds
(Adapted from Rabeinu Bachye)
The Mishkan was divided into three sections, each with its own distinctive character - the Courtyard, which housed the copper altar, on which most of the sacrifices were offered, the Kodesh, where the Menorah, the Shulchan and the Mizbei'ach ha'Zahav stood, and the Kodesh Kodshim, the home of the Aron ha'Kodesh.
Rabeinu Bachye explains that these three areas resembled the three worlds leading up to G-d's Throne - this world, the world of the sun, moon, stars and planets, and the world of the angels (which in turn, correspond to the three sections of Tefilah that precede the Amidah itself: Birchas ha'Shachar, Pesukei de'Zimra, Shema and its B'rachos and Amidah, to G-d's Throne).
The Mishkan in fact, is a microcosm of the universe, and demonstrates the manner in which G-d governs the world, as He already demonstrated to Ya'akov Avinu, when Ya'akov, on his way to Choron, dreamt of the ladder. There the Torah speaks of "a ladder placed on the ground, with its top reaching the sky, and behold angels of G-d ascending and descending it. And behold G-d was standing over him."
Everything that happens in this world, happens via the medium of the heavenly bodies (as is born out by the science of astrology).
The Heavenly bodies themselves have no mind of their own. Their power to influence this world and to dictate its course is dependent entirely upon the influence that they receive from the angels who, in turn, pass on to them the instructions that they have received from G-d Himself. To understand this just a little, is to gain a better understanding of G-d's power, magnificence and omnipotence - and must fill a person with deep awe before His Majesty.
This is similar, explains Rabeinu Bachye, to the composition of man, whose three parts, the head, which houses the brain (which he refers to as the world of speech), the heart and the lower body, correspond to the above three worlds, respectively: the brain - the world of the angels: the heart (which pumps life to all the limbs) - to that of the sun and the moon (which also supplies life to the animal and plant worlds): the lower body - to the physical world in which we live. And in the same way as the Shechinah rested on the ladder - symbolising the tzadikim's direct access to G-d. so too, does man merit that the Shechinah rests on him through the Tefilin, which he wears on his arm next to his heart, and on his head (corresponding to the two Cherubs).
And these three worlds are represented by the three sections of the Mishkan: the Courtyard corresponds to the physical world, depicted by the animal with which the avodah is performed, the Kodesh, which houses the holy vessels that portray the glory of G-d like the heavenly bodies, about whom David ha'Melech wrote in Tehilim (19:2) "The Heaven tells Hashem's glory".
And the Kodesh Kodshim, where the Aron, the Luchos and the Keruvim are situated - unseen but seeing - resembles the world of the angels, the world of speech and the Divine Throne above it (which may be seen as a fourth world that governs the three).
And the latter was the focal point of the entire Mishkan. This was where G-d descended to supervise His people and to tend to all their needs. Like the Torah writes by the ladder, immediately after its reference to the world of the angels "And behold Hashem stood over him". Here too, it was from between the two Cherubs, from the lid of the Aron that G-d spoke to Moshe. There was the centre of Divine communication.
The Kodesh Kodshim may have been the most silent and unvisited spot in the Beis-ha'Mikdash, but that was not due to its insignificance, but rather to the fact that it was the centre of activity. It was the most hallowed and the most powerful spot in the world. It was the point where G-d and Yisrael became one.
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