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Vol. 5 No. 19
The Great Illusion
A visitor entering the Mishkon, and later the Beis ha'Mikdosh, might have been excused for believing that the most important piece of furniture (described by the Torah as vessels) was the Mizbei'ach ha'Nechoshes - the large copper altar. After all, with the two daily communal sacrifices that were brought on it, a host of extra ones every Shabbos, Rosh Chodesh and Yom-tov, and the numerous private offerings - both voluntary and obligatory - that one imagines to have been brought daily, incorporating animal, bird and flour-offerings, the Mizbei'ach must have been in constant use, with a host of Cohanim in regular attendance. For sheer hustle and bustle, none of the other vessels could compare with it - the small, golden altar was used only twice daily, for the morning and afternoon incense, and so was the Menorah, which was prepared each morning and lit each evening. And as for the Table, the breads lay there untouched for a whole week, to be replaced only on Shabbos. The impression gained was most certainly that none of the vessels could compete with the copper Mizbei'ach for importance.
And which of the vessels was the least significant? The visitor would not hesitate to tell you that it was the Oron - assuming that is, that he was aware of the Oron's existence.
The Oron, he would tell you, remained hidden, untouched, unserved, and even unseen, and it was only once a year - on Yom Kipur - that the Cohen Godol would spend a short time in the Kodesh Kodshim, be briefly exposed to the Oron, and leave, to keep his distance for another twelve months - until next Yom Kipur. Clearly then, the Oron played only a minor role in the smooth running of the avodah in the Mishkon.
What an illusion! The Oron was the key to the workings of the entire Mishkon. Not only was it the vessel (in its capacity as the home of the Luchos and the Torah) on whose behalf the Mishkon was built, but it was the vessel, more than any other, that was responsible for the Mishkon's functioning. If not for the Oron, there would have been no Mishkon (as is evident from the Medrash, which describes Hashem's request to build Him a house so that He could be near His daughter - the Torah), and if not for the Oron, the Mishkon would not have been functional, since Hashem's communication with Yisroel through Moshe, took place via the lid of the Oron (see Sh'mos 25:22).
In fact, this is comparable to the engine of a car, which in similar fashion, is hidden from view, serving no visible purpose, yet in its capacity in making the car move, it is both the cause of the car's manufacture and chiefly responsible for its smooth running.
Man may work the other parts of the car, turning, switching, pressing, conveying the impression of greater significance than the engine, which he does not touch. However, it is the engine that plays the major role in making the car functional, because it is the source of power - for which reason it does not need man to work it as it silently plays its part. Likewise the Oron - it did not need man to make it functional, because, like the engine, it is the source of power, it causes the entire Mishkon to function. And like the engine of the car, it is precisely on account of the Oronís significance that it remained covered and unseen.
And it is exactly the same with the talmid-chochom. Like the Oron, he is not seen. People do not have much to do with him and he appears to be insignificant and redundant.
But this too, is a total illusion. Not only was the world created for him, but he is the motor whose power keeps the entire world running smoothly.
There are five people who may not separate T'rumah, and even if they do, their T'rumah is invalid: 1) a deaf-mute; 2) an imbecile; 3) a minor; 4) someone who separates from crops that do not belong to him (without the owner's knowledge); and 5) a non-Jew. (Mishnah T'rumos 1:1)
Everything is hinted in the Torah, and the above Mishnah is no exception. All five people are hinted in our Parshah, which speaks about T'rumah (in spite of the fact that the T'rumah here has a different connotation [see Torah Temimah]).
1) "Speak to the B'nei Yisroel and they shall take T'rumah" - but not non-Jews.
"And you shall place on the table the show-bread before Me always."
The Gemoro in Chagigah (26b), learns from the word 'always,' that the bread should (literally) always be on the table, and that consequently, unlike all the other vessels in the Beis ha'Mikdosh, the table could not be toveled. Therefore they would announce on Yom-tov "Take care not to touch the Table!"
It was customary to tovel all the vessels after Yom-tov, for fear that, on account of the numerous olei regel who came to the Beis ha'Mikdosh on Yom-tov, someone who was tomei touched them - all that is, except for the table.
But who would touch the table anyway? The table was situated in the Heichal, an area which was accessible only to Cohanim who were doing the avodah, but out of bounds to Yisraelim.
Rashi and Tosfos therefore, both explain that it was the Cohanim amei ho'oretz who were being warned here.
The Torah Temimah however, points out that it is not necessary to learn like this. He quotes a Yerushalmi in Chagigah, which explains how, on Yom-tov, they would carry out the table, to show all the olei regel the incredible sight of the steaming-hot breads - eight days after they had been baked, from which they would all know the extent of G-d's love for them. And it was then, explains the Torah Temimah, that they warned everyone - Cohanim and Yisraelim alike - not to touch the Shulchan.
The Menorah (Menochos 28b)
The Menorah was made initially of gold, but we learn from a 'klal u'frat u'klal' that any metal is kosher, but not wood or glass etc.
If the Menorah was made of other metals (as happened in the times of the Chashmono'im, who inaugurated the Beis ha'Mikdosh with metal spit-rods, because they could not afford gold), then it did not need the patterned goblets, knobs and flowers, which were only required on a golden Menorah.
Nor was it necessary to use a kikar of metal in its production, as it was when it was made of gold.
History of the World ( Part 41)
In the third year of his reign, he sends messengers to teach the people the ways of G-d.
Chiel ho'Eli (the man whom the prophets of Ba'al place inside their Mizbei'ach to ignite the fuel that they placed on top) is bitten by a snake and dies - the punishment due to someone who transgresses Rabbinical decrees (and Chiel disregarded the decree of Yehoshua bin Nun - not to build up Yericho).
Achazyah, son of Ach'ov, falls through a netting, becomes ill and dies. His brother Yehorom assumes the throne of Yisroel.
"And Let Our Hearts Understand..."
We fervently ask Hashem for the ability to understand the Torah that we are going to learn, and that our learning should be le'halochoh (Eitz Yosef), to hear Torah she'be'al peh from others and to develop it, to teach others, not to contravene the mitzvos lo sa'aseh and to fulfill the mitzvos asei - and to go beyond the letter of the law by keeping even the divrei chasidus which Chazal have taught us (Eitz Yosef).
It is essential that our learning and keeping of mitzvos should be with love and not merely out of fear, explains the Eitz Yosef, because serving G-d out of fear of punishment is not genuine avodas Hashem - serving Him out of love, is.
The Iyun Tefilah cites a B'raysa in Nedorim (62b) which states that a man should not learn Chumash in order to be called a chochom, nor should he learn Mishnah in order to be called a Rebbi, or Gemoro, so that he can become an elder and a Rosh yeshivah. Rather, one should learn out of love for Hashem, concludes the B'raysa, and the honour will come by itself.
"And Enlighten Us in Your Torah"
Now we ask Hashem for a deeper understanding of Torah (according to the Eitz Yosef, this refers to the study of Kaboloh, which is not naturally accessible to everyone who tries to study it) and for a level beyond that of mere fulfillment; namely, that our hearts, the seat of our desires, should cleave to Hashem, and to unify our hears - that nothing else is of importance to us - to love and to fear Hashem, and we will never be ashamed. Someone who reaches such levels of devotion will never have reason to be ashamed, neither in this world nor in the next (Eitz Yosef).
"And Unify our Hearts..."
When the Chofetz Chayim's son died at an early age, the Chofetz Chayim, who was naturally heart-broken, eulogized him with the following story. The Cossacks once attacked a village, killing men, women and children mercilessly.
In their wake, they left among the dead, the only son of an unfortunate widow. As the wretched woman stood crying over her dead son, she raised her eyes heavenwards, and exclaimed "Master of the Universe, You commanded us to love You with all our heart, but I must admit, I had difficulty in fulfilling this command, inasmuch as I could not resist the natural tendency to reserve some of my love for my son. But now that You have taken him away from me, I will truly be able to fulfill the mitzvah properly, since I have no-one else with whom to share my love but You!" The holy Chofetz Chayim concluded that that was exactly the way he felt at that moment. He had lost his only son, whom he had loved dearly, so that now he would find it easier to love G-d with all his heart - that is the meaning of the phrase 'and unify our hearts to love and to fear Your Name'... It is the level that Avrohom Ovinu attained, when he demonstrated at the Akeidoh that his love of Hashem superceded that of his beloved son Yitzchok.
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