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February 20, 1999 4 Adar 5759
Pop Quiz: From where did B'nei Yisrael get the wood for building the Mishkan?

FULL SUPPORT by Rabbi Reuven Semah

"And you shall make two golden kerubim" (Shemot 25:18)

In the Mishkan, the Temple that traveled along with the Jewish people in the desert, there were two kerubim. These were two angelic statues that were placed over the ark that contained the two tablets of the Ten Commandments.

Our sages tell us that the kerubim had the faces of children. The Vilna Gaon explains (as quoted in Torah Ladaat) in the name of the Midrash that when a chick is young, its mother feeds it and takes care of all of its needs. However, when it grows up and comes to eat with its mother, the mother drives it away since the mother feels that the chick doesn't need her any more. Similarly, when a child is young and helpless, he puts his complete faith in Hashem, and therefore Hashem protects him with a great deal of direct protection. However, when a person grows up and gains confidence in his own abilities and does not trust in Hashem as much, Hashem removes some of His Divine Providence from the person.

We see this concept on a national scale as well. When the Israelites left Egypt, they felt completely helpless and put their complete faith in Hashem, and as a result He protected them with all of His miracles, such as the splitting of the Red Sea. Later on, when their faith lessened somewhat, Hashem removed some of His protection, such as by the attack of Amalek.

It was for this reason that the kerubim had the faces of children - to emphasize that Hashem is closest to us because of the merit of children and the people who put their complete faith in Hashem.

Obviously, the innocence and purity of our children is a great national treasure that must be preserved. It has come to my attention, more than once, from teachers in our schools, that the children openly admit that they have access to the family computer. They know how to bypass the blocks and, at times, watch the pornography that is in abundance at the computer. Are we going to wait for our children to come to us to discuss the problem? Let's do what we have to do to protect that wonderful purity of our kids. Shabbat Shalom.

GROWN TO PERFECTION by Rabbi Shmuel Choueka

"Make an Ark of cedar wood...and cover it with gold." (Shemot 25:10-11)

The Aron (Ark), which held the two Tablets in them, had to be made out of cedar wood and covered with gold from within and from without. Since this is one of the most important vessels in the Mishkan, shouldn't it be made totally out of gold? What is the significance of the wood between the layers of gold?

The answer is that the Torah must be kept in something wooden because wood is a substance which symbolizes growth. The scholar and the layman both must be like wood in the sense that they are constantly growing and improving. The gold covering symbolizes the midot, the character, which must be sterling and pure like the pure gold in the Mishkan, but the main substance which can hold the Torah is wood. The lesson for us is that no matter what our level of understanding is, we must try to increase our learning and be constantly on the move towards perfection. Shabbat Shalom.

Answer to Pop Quiz: Ya'akob had planted trees in Egypt for this purpose and instructed his sons to bring it out with them when they left Egypt.

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