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"They shall make the Aron..."(Shemos 25:10). This verse is referring to the Aron Kodesh, the Holy Ark, which stood in the holiest place of the Mishkan (Tabernacle). The Medrash (Shemos Rabba 34:2) asks a very interesting question regarding this verse. When Hashem instructed Moshe Rabbeinu to make all of the other kelim (vessels) of the Mishkan, He used the singular form of the verb, "and you shall make" (Shemos 25:17,23,31, etc.). When He came to the Aron, He used the plural form of the word, "They shall make" (Shemos 25:10). What was the difference between the Aron, that "they" were commanded to help in its construction?
The Medrash answers with an inspiring insight. The Aron represented Torah. "Let everyone come and work on the Aron, in order that they can all acquire the Torah." The Torah was for everyone. The Medrash continues describing two other kelim - the shulchan (table), and the mizbeach (altar). They represented Malchus (kingship) and Kehuna (priesthood) respectively. Hashem instructed Moshe to make a gold crown for the other two kelim (Shemos 25:24). When referring to the Aron, He said to make a gold crown "on it" (Shemos 25:11). What is the difference? The words "on it" are used to describe the crown of Torah, because it is above the others; it is greater than the others. Acquiring the crown of Torah is like acquiring all of the crowns together. Therefore, we see that the crown of Torah is both the greatest crown, and the one that is most available for anyone to take.
Kinderlach . . .
Who wears a crown? A great person. A person who deserves much honor - a King, a Kohen. There is a third crown that is greater than Kingship or Kehuna. The crown of Torah. Not only is it the greatest crown, it is the most accessible. You do not need royal blood to wear the crown of Torah. You just need a desire to put all of your energy into learning. Commit yourself to learning Torah to the best of your abilities. Then carry out your commitment. You will soon be wearing a very beautiful thing - the crown of Torah.
"Rabbi Weiss, I just stopped in to say goodbye."
"Where are you going Mr. Katz?"
"On vacation for a few weeks. My wife and I are going to China."
"That sounds fascinating, Mr. Katz. Are to planning to visit the Great Wall?"
"Yes, Rabbi Weiss."
"Enjoy yourselves. Please tell me all about your trip when you return. I will be here in the Beis HaMedrash learning Torah B'ezras Hashem (With Hashem's help)."
"Thank you. Rabbi Weiss, do you mind if I ask you a personal question?"
"Not at all."
"Have you ever traveled the world and seen the great sights? The Eiffel Tower, the Golden Gate Bridge, the Grand Canyon, The Himalayan Mountains, the African rainforests, or the Swiss Alps?"
"I'm afraid I haven't Mr. Katz."
"Why not, Rabbi? There's a whole big world out there to see and enjoy."
"Mr. Katz, believe it or not, one of my neighbors asked me the same question a few days ago."
"What did you say to him, Rabbi Weiss?"
"I asked what he knew about interest rates and property investment. Did he ever examine marriage laws and customs? Did he know how to properly care for widows and orphans? Did he understand how much charity to give, and how much food to eat? Did he know how to examine the internal organs of a kosher animal? How should two partners dissolve a partnership? When does a squatter have rights to the land he is living on? Does he understand the difference between the holiness of Shabbos and Yom Kippur? When does life begin, and when does it end?"
"Rabbi Weiss, these subjects contain worlds of knowledge."
"That is exactly the point, Mr. Katz. There are worlds and worlds of Torah to understand and learn. Each sugya (subject) is more beautiful than the Swiss Alps, more intricate than a microchip, and more alive than a rain forest. It is Divine knowledge, here on earth."
"Mr. Katz, I can offer you a world-wide tour that will take your breath away. Right here in the Beis HaMedrash."
"Where do I begin, Rabbi Weiss?"
"Right here. 'Eiloo metzios shelo' (These are the lost objects that you can keep)," (Bava Metzia 21a).
Kinderlach . . .
This week's parsha speaks about the Aron Kodesh (Holy Ark). It contained the Luchos (Tablets) and it represented Torah learning. The Torah is the most fascinating thing you will ever see in your life. Learning it is life's greatest pleasure. Take a whirlwind tour of all the Torah "sites". Open up your gemora and keeps your eyes and mind focused. You don't want to miss a single detail!
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