Thoughts on the Weekly Parshah by HaRav Eliezer Chrysler
Formerly Rav of Mercaz Ahavat Torah, Johannesburg

For sponsorships and advertising opportunities, send e-mail to:

Back to This Week's Parsha Previous Issues

subscribe.gif (2332 bytes)

Vol. 17   No. 19

This issue is sponsored jointly
l'iluy Nishmos
Frank and Frieda Kaplan z"L
and Yosef Loescher z"l
l'iluy Nishmos
Ha'Rav Simchah ben ha'Rav Asher
and Gita bas Bentziyon z.l.
& Chayim Ze'ev ben Yisrael
and B'rachah Miriam bas Moshe Aharon z.l.

Parshas Terumah

The Aron ha'Kodesh
(Adapted from Rabeinu Bachye)

The Aron (1)

"And they shall make an Aron of acacia wood " (25:10).

In connection with all the other Keilim (the Holy Vessels - the Shulchan, the Menorah, even the lid of the Aron), the Torah writes "And you shall make ". The sole exception is the Aron. The Medrash explains that this is because, due to the importance of the Torah, G-d wanted everyone to participate in the construction of the Holy Vessel that housed it, so that everyone should merit a portion in it. R. Bachye explains that this they did by donating something towards it. (According to the Ramban, he could donate a golden vessel, assist Betzalel in its construction or simply share in the construction by having in mind to do so.)

See also 'Highlights from the Ba'al ha'Turim'.


The reason that this Parshah begins with the Aron, says R. Bachye, is because the Torah, which preceded the world, is called 'Reishis'; and the reason that the Aron (or Oron), a derivative of the word "Or" (light) is called by that name is because it houses the Torah, which is called Or, as the Pasuk writes in Mishlei (6:23) "For Mitzvah is a lamp, and Torah Or". The footnote cites the Yerushalmi in Yuma, which relates that, up until the time that the Aron was hidden, the Kohen Gadol would enter the Kodesh Kodshim by the light of the Aron (i.e. which the Korban Eidah equates with the Light of the Shechinah.).


The Aron (2)


The Medrash states that the work of the Aron was as dear to G-d as the Kisei ha'Kavod (the Divine Throne of Glory). In fact, when the Torah writes (in the Shirah, which we recite each morning) "the foundation of Your dwelling-place that you fashioned", it is declaring that the Mikdash corresponds to the Kisei ha'Kavod (i.e. it is the equivalent of the Kisei ha'Kavod on earth).

The two Keruvim (Cherubs) are as dear to G-d as Heaven and earth, since they represent the dual locations of His dwelling. The construction of the entire Mishkan was only for the sake of the Aron, in which the Shechinah dwelt, and all the miracles that took place at that time were done via the Aron, due to the fact that the Shechinah dwelt in it.

The Torah writes that "the Aron of the covenant of Hashem travelled before them", and as it did, it killed all snakes and scorpions (that abound in the desert), and destroyed all things that were harmful to Yisrael. As R. Elazar ben P'das citing R. Elazar ben Zimra describes - 'Two sparks came out from between the two poles of the Aron, killing the snakes and scorpions and burning all the thorns that were in their path. The smoke then rose like a date-palm and the entire world was filled with its fragrance, as the Pasuk writes in Shir-Hashirim (3:6) "Who is this ascending from the wilderness, its way secured and smoothed by palm-like pillars of smoke ?" '.


The Aron (3)


Furthermore, one can explain the Pasuk "And they shall make the Aron of acacia-wood" with reference to the people who support those who study Torah. "And you shall overlay it with pure gold" - because G-d is going to create a shade of protection for both those who study Torah and those who support them, as the Pasuk writes in Koheles (7:12) "For sitting in the shelter of wisdom and sitting in the shelter of money (are one and the same)". And the Pasuk also writes in Mishlei (3:18) "It is a tree of life for all those who support it", not 'those who study it' note (for them the statement is superfluous) but "those who support it"!


Indeed, commenting on the Pasuk "And you shall bring the staves (by which the Aron is carried) into the rings" (Pasuk 14), the Medrash writes that the people are obligated to support those who study Torah, just as the staves support the Aron. The words "to carry the Aron with them" (Ibid.) indicate that it is thanks to those who support them, that the Torah students are elevated. This can be compared to the Kohen Gadol, about whom Chazal, based on the Pasuk "and the Kohen who is greater than his brothers", have said 'Gadleihu mi'shel echav' - Elevate him (financially) from his brothers, an obligation for the Kohanim to enrich the Kohen Gadol out of their own pockets. There too, the Kohen Gadol is supported by the ordinary Kohanim.


And finally, the Gemara in Chulin (92.), comparing the Talmidei-Chachamim to grapes and those who assist them to the leaves, advises the grapes to pray for the well-being of the leaves, which protect them from the heat and the cold, the wind and other harmful elements. Because, the Gemara explains, were it not for the leaves, the grapes would not survive (the climatic elements and the birds who would devour them before one had a chance to pick them).

In the same vein then, the Talmidei-Chachamim need to pray for the well-being of those who support them, because if not for them, how would they succeed in their Torah-learning? As the Mishnah says in Pirkei Avos (3:17) 'If there is no bread, there is no Torah!'.

* * *

Parshah Pearls
(Adapted from Rabeinu Bachye)

A Good Acquisition

And they shall take (ve'yikchu) for Me a gift " (25:2).

Commenting on the word "ve'yikchu", the Medrash quoting Hashem says 'Now that I have given you My Torah'about which the Pasuk in Mishlei (4:2) writes "For I have given you a good acquisition (Lekach tov)", bring Me a gift (as described in the Pasuk)!'


To describe the special qualities of the 'gift' that G-d gave us, the Medrash presents the parable of two merchants, one of whom dealt in pepper, the other, in silks, When they once met, and decided to exchange their respective merchandise, they discovered that each one may have gained a new merchandise, but that he had, at the same time, lost what he previously owned.

But in Torah, that is not the case. If Reuven, say, has learned Seider Zera'im, and Shimon, Seider Mo'ed, and Reuven then teaches Shimon Zera'im, and Shimon teaches Reuven, Mo'ed, each one will end up 'owning' two Sedarim, and neither will have lost anything.


Torah is the Best S'chorah!

The Medrash goes on to tell the story of a Talmid-Chacham who was traveling on a ship on which a number of merchants were also travelling. When they queried him about his merchandise, all he would tell them was that his merchandise was superior to theirs. So they searched the boat from one end to the other, but failed to find anything that might have comprised the Talmid-Chacham's merchandise. So they began to make fun of him.

Not long afterwards, the ship was attacked by pirates, who robbed the passengers of all their belongings. When the ship eventually docked, the merchants were left stranded without a penny to their name, not knowing where to turn or what to do. The Talmid-Chacham on the other hand, entered the Beis-Hamedrash, and began to hold a D'rashah. The townspeople, overawed by his greatness, gave him Kavod and accompanied him wherever he went. When the merchants saw what happened to their fellow-traveller, they approached him and begged his forgiveness. They began to plead with him to put in a good word on their behalf with the townspeople, to help place them on their feet, so that they should not die of hunger.

'Did I not tell you', he reminded them, 'that my merchandise is superior to yours!?'


What's more, the Medrash concludes, those who indulge in business dealings do not succeed all the time; everyone has his ups and his downs. Not so Torah. Torah stands a person in good stead in both this world and the next. Hence the Pasuk writes "For I have given you a good acquisition, don't forsake it!"


The Number Ten in the Mishkan!

" and one and a half Amos its height" (25:10).

Since the Amah of the Torah comprises six Tefachim, and bearing in mind that the Kapores (the lid) of the Aron was one Tefach thick, as the Gemara in Succah (5a\b), Rabeinu Bachye points out, it emerges that the total height of the Aron was ten Tefachim.

What's more, he adds, the number ten (which one generally associates with sanctity) is connected with each of the Holy Vessels.

The Shulchan, like the Aron, was one and a half Amos tall; together with its Misgeres (rim) that protruded one Tefach above the table-top, gave it total a height of ten Tefachim.

The Menorah was eighteen Tefachim tall. However, in Pasuk thirty-one, the word "te'oseh" (in "te'oseh ha'Menorah") contains a superfluous 'Yud' (ten). And it is from this 'Yud', the Medrash teaches us, that Sh'lomoh ha'Melech learned to construct ten Menoros. And it appears that he extended this D'rashah to construct ten Shulchanos and ten Kiyoros (Washing-Basins). The bottom set of coverings, consisting of twined linen and wool of various colours, comprised ten curtains joined together; What's more, the height of the Mishkan was ten Amos, corresponding to the height of the planks on which the coverings were placed. Finally, even the Mizbei'ach ho'Olah in the Mishkan was not only ten Amos tall, but its combined length and breadth was ten Amos. What emerges is that the number ten leaves its mark on each of the Holy Vessels of the Mishkan (with the sole exception of the Mizbei'ach ha'Ketores).


The Staves of the Aron

"And you shall cast for it four golden rings and you shall place them on its four corners (pa'amosov)" (25:12).

Rashi interprets this to mean on the four top corners (i.e. near the top) near the lid, so that the Aron was transported, for the most part, from the shoulders downwards.

Rabeinu Bachye however, prefers the explanation of the Ramban, who maintains that the rings were placed at the bottom of the Aron, and he proves this from the Pasuk in Shir-Hashirim (7:2), where the same word ("pa'amayich") means' footsteps'. And so they should be, he argues, seeing as it is a greater Kavod for the holy Aron to be carried from the shoulders upwards than hanging from the shoulders downwards, as Rashi explains.

I always wondered, according to the Ramban, how, considering that the staves were right next to the ground, the Kohanim must have struggled to lift up the Aron - no problem according to Rashi.

But besides, the Gemara in Shabbos (92) rules that someone who carries something ten Tefachim from the ground has transgressed the Dinim of carrying on Shabbos, and it cites as its source a. the fact that a person is three Amos (eighteen Tefachim) tall, b. people who carry heavy loads in this way, tend to carry them one third above their shoulders and two thirds below. Consequently, when the B'nei K'has carried the Aron on their shoulders, its base was more than ten Tefachim from the ground.

Clearly then, Rashi's explanation concurs with that of the Gemara.


One Solid Kikar

"A Kikar of pure gold you shall make it, all these vessels (accessories)" (25:39).

1 Kikar of Kodesh, Rashi explains, is equivalent to a 120 Manah; 1 Manah=25 Sela'im;1 Sela = 4 golden Dinrim.


Rabeinu Bachye, following in the footsteps of the Ramban, maintains that whereas" pure gold" refers to the Menorah together with all its accessories, "a Kikar" is confined to the Menorah and its branches, not to its accessories. And he explains the Pasuk as if it had written 'A Kikar of pure gold you shall make it (the actual Menorah together with its branches) Pure gold you shall make all its vessels".

And this is clearly stated in Maseches Menachos (53:).


The Standing Planks of 'Shitim'-Wood

"And you shall make the planks of 'shitim' (acacia)-wood, standing" (26:15).

See Rashi.

R. Bachye cites a Medrash which explains why the Torah chose specifically 'acacia-wood' (or more precisely, why it chose Shitim-wood).

'Yisrael sinned (with the daughters of Mo'av) in Shitim, and they were punished in Shitim (when they were smitten with a plague and many thousands died). That is why G-d ('creating the cure before the stroke') healed them with 'Shitim'-wood, forty years before they had even sinned.


The Middle Bolt

"And the middle bolt in the middle of the planks " (26:28).

Rashi in Shabbos (98:) explains that on each of the three sides (north, south and west) there were five bolts that held the planks together, and that the five were actually three (since the top and bottom bolts each comprised two half-sized bolts). R. Bachye however, cites Tosfos there who explains that the middle bolt was really one, which miraculously encircled all three above sides. Seeing as the north and south sides of the Mishkan each measured thirty Amos, and the west side, twelve, this would have meant that the bolt measured seventy-two Amos. Only bearing in mind that it was pushed through a hole that was bored right through the middle of the planks, one needs to allow for two Amos at the corners, in which case its actual measurement was seventy Amos.

This meant that, in a sense, the entire Mishkan was held together by the seventy-Amah middle bolt. This represented the power of 'Heichal ha'Kodesh' (the Holy Temple), the author explains, which was the Midah of Ya'akov (whose face is engraved underneath the Kisei ha'Kavod, as we explained recently), and who was the father of the seventy Souls that went down to Egypt. And it was the 'Heichal ha'Kodesh' that shed its influence upon the seventy angels who control the seventy nations. It is hardly surprising therefore that Ya'akov Avinu was the one who transported the middle bolt to Egypt and instructed his children to take it out with them when they were redeemed.

In Pasuk fifteen, Rabeinu Bachye himself, commenting on the words "And you shall make the planks" (and not just 'planks'), explains that Ya'akov planted cedar-trees on his way down to Egypt, with orders to fell them when they left in order to use them for constructing a Mishkan. Irrespective of whether this is one and the same Medrash or two different ones, imagine the size of the cedar-tree from which one is able to fashion a bolt that measures seventy Amos (over a hundred feet)!

* * *


"And they shall make an Aron of acacia-wood " (25:10).

By all the other Keilim, the Torah writes "And you shall make", the Ba'al ha'Turim observes. The reason that it changes here, to write "they" is because when Sh'lomoh Hamelech built the Beis-Hamikdash, he built a replica of all the Keilim, with the sole exception of the Aron, where he used the one that Betzal'el built.

See also 'Parshah Pearls'.


"They (the planks) shall be even at the bottom and they shall end together (yachdav) at the top" (26:24).

The word "yachdav" also appears in Yeshayah (43:3) "They (the Egyptians) will all perish together (yachdav - i.e. simultaneously)".

This teaches us, the Ba'al ha'Turim explains, that the boards were flush next to one another and not one jutting out more than the other; alternatively, it is a hint that those boards, which were an Amah wide at the bottom, became gradually narrower, from bottom upwards, until at the top they measured no more than a finger-breadth.


"And you shall set up the Mishkan like you were shown (hor'eiso) on the Mountain" (26:30).

The word "hor'eiso" also appears in Va'eschanan "You were shown (hor'eiso) to known that Hashem is G-d " (4:35), says the Ba'al ha'Turim.

Because it is on Har Sinai that you were shown that Hashem is G-d, when He bent the Heaven of the Heaven and showed you how He alone rules over both the celestial creatures and those on earth.


"The length of the Chatzer (the Courtyard) is a hundred Amos, and the width is fifty by fifty" (27:18).

The Ba'al ha'Turim explains this to mean that the Chatzer was one fiftieth of the Har ha'Bayis (the entire Temple Mount). The Har ha'Bayis measured five hundred Amos by five hundred Amos (250, 000 Amos square), and the Chatzer, fifty times a hundred (five thousand Amos square), as Rashi explains, one fiftieth of the Har ha'Bayis, just as the Ba'al ha'Turim explains.

* * *

We apologise for the error in last week's 'Highlights from the Ba'al Ha'Turim', Parshas Mishpatim, where some of the text was inadvertently omitted. Here is the full version.

" he may not rule over her to sell her, thereby dealing with her treacherously (be'vigdo boh)" 21:8.

The same word appears in Veyeishev (39:12) "And she seized him by his garment (be'vigdo)".

This explains the opinion of R. Eliezer, says the Ba'al ha'Turim, who (interprets the word literally as 'garment' and who therefore) says in Kidushin that 'Once the father has spread his garment over his daughter (i.e. taken her under the Chupah), he is no longer permitted to sell her.

However, he adds, R. Akiva too, who translates it as above, also learns it from Yosef. In his opinion, the Ba'al ha'Turim explains, Yosef returned to the house with the intention of sinning with his mistress (a treachery to his father's ideals), and it was only when the image of his father appeared to him that he managed to fight off the temptation.


" then she leaves his house (ve'yotz'oh mi'beiso) to freedom " (21:11).

Here too, the Ba'al ha'Turim cites one other location where the word ve'yotz'oh is to be found - in Ki Seitzei (24:2), where the Torah writes (in connection with divorce) " and she leaves his house (ve'yotz'oh mi'beiso), and she goes and marries another man". The Torah is comparing a maidservant to a married woman, in that just as one 'acquires' a woman by means of a sh'tar (a document), so too can one acquire a maidservant by means of a sh'tar.

* * *

For sponsorships and adverts call 651 9502

Back to This Week's Parsha | Previous Issues

This article is provided as part of Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Permission is granted to redistribute electronically or on paper,
provided that this notice is included intact.

Shema Yisrael Torah Network
For information on subscriptions, archives, and
other Shema Yisrael Classes,
send mail to
Jerusalem, Israel