Always in Your Heart
"Avi, how are you?"
"Baruch Hashem great, Chaim."
"Do you want to come to my house to see something great?"
"What is it?"
"A new model of the Kelim of the Mishkan (Vessels of the Tabernacle)."
"Wow! I'll ask my mother if I can come."
A few minutes later there is a knock at Chaim's door. It is his friend Avi. Chaim opens up a box and shows Avi a model of the Aron Kodesh (Holy Ark). It stands about ten inches tall, shining brightly gold.
"Wow! That is beautiful."
"Look, along with the model is a sefer which contains many Divrei Torah about the Kelim, their functions, and symbolism."
"What does it say about the Aron Kodesh?"
"Let's see. We have something very interesting here from Rav Levi Yitzchak of Berdichev. He speaks about the verse which states, 'The poles (which were used to carry the Aron Kodesh) shall remain in the rings (which held them in place) of the Aron; they must not be removed' (Shemos 25:15)."
"That is exactly the question that Rav Levi Yitzchak asks. He answers that there are different types of mitzvos. There are those which are applicable at certain times, such as tzitzis and tefillin, which can only be fulfilled during the day. There are other mitzvos which are not applicable at all nowadays, such as korbonos (sacrifices). And then there are other mitzvos which are constant. A person must carry these mitzvos around with him in his heart all of the time - 24 hours a day - seven days a week. These mitzvos are the foundations of Yiddishkeit. The Aron Kodesh reminded the people of these constant mitzvos."
"Can you give an example, Chaim?"
"Yes. The mitzvah of knowing that Hashem exists, and that He created the universe - the first of the Aseres HaDibros (Ten Commandments). To know that He is the only power capable of doing anything, and that there is no other. To love Him."
"How do we fulfill the mitzvah of loving Hashem?"
"Rav Levi Yitzchak explains that we should love to do things that give Hashem ta'anug (delight) and nachas ruach (pleasure), so to speak. Learning Torah, praying to Him, giving tsedaka, and other acts of kindness, all give Him simcha (happiness) and nachas ruach."
"What an honor - to give pleasure to the Creator of the Universe! Does he mention any other constant mitzvos?"
"Yes. To fear Hashem. To be afraid to violate His mitzvos or to do anything against His will chas v'shalom (Heaven forbid)."
"That is quite a big job."
"True, Avi. Rav Avigdor Miller says that thinking about Hashem all of the time is one of life's major accomplishments. Some people accomplish great things in life. They learn through all of Shas. They give major amounts of money to tsedaka. They raise a large family of wonderful children. They start a great Yeshiva. They lead a large congregation of G-d fearing Jews. Gaining and maintaining a constant awareness of Hashem in your life is no less of an accomplishment."
"You have a great memory tool, Chaim - this model of the Aron Kodesh. Its rods were never removed. So too may the thoughts of Hashem, and your love and fear of Him may never be removed fro your heart."
Kinderlach . . .
What is in your heart? What are you thinking about all day? Our great Rabbonim - Rav Levi Yitzchak of Berdichev and Rav Avigdor Miller tell us what we should be thinking about. Hashem. He is The One Who created everything, and keeps it all running. Everything that we have is from Him. Seeing the world full of His wonderful creations should remind us of Him. Love Him. Do things that give Him nachas ruach. Learn His Torah, pray to Him, act kindly toward His children - our fellow Jews. Fear Him. Do not dare to do anything that He would not approve of. This is a major accomplishment in life. This is true greatness.
A Big Responsibility
"That was a wonderful Devar Torah about the Aron Kodesh, Chaim. Please share another one with me."
"Let's see. Take a look at these three kelim - the Aron Kodesh, the Shulchan (table), and the Mizbeach HaZahav (Golden Incense Altar). What do they have in common?"
"They are all made of gold."
"Very good. Anything else?"
Avi looks carefully at the models.
"I know! They all have a gold crown around the top."
"Excellent, Avi. The top covering of these three kelim has points around the perimeter which look exactly like that crown that a king wears upon his head. The verses describe this covering as a 'zer zahav' (golden crown)."
"I thought that the Hebrew word for crown was 'keter.'"
"Avi, you have asked the exact same question as the Shelah HaKadosh."
"What is his answer?"
"He quotes the Gemora (Yuma 72b). The word 'zer' is written with the Hebrew letters 'zayin resh.' If the person merits, the Torah will be a 'zer' (crown) for him. If he does not merit, he will be a 'zar' (stranger) to it. A stranger who approaches the holy things that are forbidden to him suffers the death penalty, as the verse states, 'A stranger who approaches shall die' (Bamidbar 1:51)."
"That is scary. Can you explain it to me?"
"Yes. Someone who learns Torah in order to guard it by keeping the mitzvos - he will perform mitzvos properly and uphold the Torah. Fortunate is he! He will be crowned with the Torah! However, someone who knows a lot of Torah, is capable of making beautiful drashas, but does not fulfill what he knows - he becomes a complete stranger. He distances himself from Hashem's holy Torah, and his punishment is many times worse than an unlearned person."
"Because he was close to the Torah. He knew the right way to behave. Yet he turned away and acted like a stranger. Therefore 'the stranger who comes close must perish.' The Shelah warns us to place these words upon our hearts."
"They are certainly a strong motivation to do the right thing."
"Be smart, Avi. Wear the crown of Torah."
Kinderlach . . .
Why do we learn Torah? In order to know it. What will we do with that knowledge? If we fulfill what we know by keeping the mitzvos to the best of our abilities, then we will wear the Torah that we know as a crown upon our heads. It will bring us much honor and nachas both in this world and the next. However, if we do not keep what we know, chas v'shalom, then we will become strangers to the Torah. We do not even want to think about the consequences of that. Learning Torah is a big responsibility, kinderlach. Live up to it.
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