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Rabbi Yosef Levinson
The Torah admonishes us to insert the badim, poles, into the rings of the Aron (Ark) and to never remove them. The poles of the other keilim, utensils, of the Mishkan however, were only inserted when they were required to transport the kielim. This halacha is listed as one of the 613 mitzvos, and although this mitzva may hold no practical relevance today, nevertheless its lessons are eternal and apply very much in our times as well as in past generations.
The Sefer Hachinuch writes (Mitzva 96) that the Ark housed the Torah, which is the foundation of our people. Therefore the Ark must always be ready for travel. Perhaps we might unexpectedly be forced to leave in a hurry and in our haste we will fail to check if the badim are sturdy enough to transport the Aron. This might cause, Heaven Forbid, the Aron's bearers to drop it, which is beneath its honour. However now that the Torah demands that the poles be permanently attached, we will make them very sturdy and durable, averting tragedy in this way.
The late Rabbi Avigdor Miller zt'l adds that the Aron's constant readiness for travel reminded the Bnei Yisrael that they too might be asked to leave their encampment at a moment's notice. Due to this lack of permanence, the Jewish people never became attached to their material surroundings and were able to focus solely on the study of Torah. This is an important lesson for us as well. If we are to succeed in limud HaTorah, we must first recognise the transitory nature of this world. One must consider Torah study to be his main occupation and work, as the means to achieve that goal (Brachos 35b). This dos not depend so much on the amount of time one devotes to learning as it does on one's attitude towards learning. One who anticipates the moment that his work will be finished so that he can go learn, and whose every spare moment, is devoted to Torah study demonstrates that this is his main focus. On the other hand, if one learns many hours a day but is preoccupied with what he will do after his learning seder (session), and he rushes home when he is done, then he shows that Torah learning is not as important as it should be.
Rabbi S.R. Hirsch writes that the badim teach us another lesson. Their constant presence on the Aron demonstrates that Torah never comes to a resting-place, for the Torah is not dependent on any place. Similarly, the Netziv writes that we are commanded to insert the staves into its rings when we make the Aron. In contrast, the poles of the Shulchan (table) and the Mizbeach Hazahav (golden Altar) were not to be placed in them until these keilim needed to be transported. This teaches us that we must take the Torah with us no matter where we go and that Torah learning will flourish no matter where we are exiled. However the monarchy, represented by the Shulchan and Kehuna, represented by the Mizbeach Hazahav can only prosper in Eretz Yisrael, when the Beis Hamikdash is standing.
The badim of the Aron also have another significance. Rabbeinu Bachya writes that since the purpose of the badim is to lift the Aron, therefore the badim are representative of the supporters of Torah. It is through its supporters' assistance that Torah can thrive. The Meshech Chachma writes that it is for this reason that we may not remove the Aron's badim. Just as the poles are a permanent fixture on the Aron, so too a community should view themselves as always bound to the talmidei chachamim of their city and their support for Torah should remain constant.
Conversely, although the staves were only required for transporting the Aron, nevertheless by assisting the Aron, they became permanently united with the Aron, even when they no longer provided any benefit. Thus, writes the Chafetz Chaim, the benefactors of Torah scholars join their beneficiaries forever in the next world. Although at that time they do not provide the talmidei chachamim with any assistance, they enjoy the eternal fruits of Torah study with them.
Rashi, in his commentary to the passuk, "They shall not be removed from it", writes: forever. Apparently Rashi follows the opinions that this is a command not to remove the poles. Rashi states this explicitly in his commentary on next week's Parsha (28:32). However why didn't Rashi write that this is one of the negative commandments as he does there, why did he write that they are not to be removed forever. All the negative precepts are forbidden forever. Yet Rashi does not say that one can not eat non-kosher meat forever, so why does Rashi do so here?
Perhaps Rashi means to add that when they were building the Aron, they were to build it with this in mind, that the poles were to be permanently attached to the Aron, and again it was to be inserted with this intention. Perhaps this symbolizes that when one studies Torah, besides fulfilling a mitzva, he is also affected by his learning. The Torah becomes a permanent part of him, impacting on the rest of his life. Similarly one who supports a young scholar should know that he not only reaps the benefits for the expenses he covered - the advantage accrues for years to come. Should this budding talmid chacham rise to prominence, then all those who assisted him prior to his reaching renown, have a share in the making of a Gadol. For it was through the Torah of his youth that he became what he is. It is forever part of him.
When Rabbi Moshe Blau, head of Agudas Yisrael in Eretz Yisrael visited Vilna, Rabbi Chaim Ozer Grodzenski zt'l appointed a guide to show R' Blau the attractions and sights of Vilna. The guide took R' Blau to the Vilna cemetery where both the Gra and the Ger Tzedek, Avraham Ben Avraham were interred. He also showed him the Strushin library and other points of Jewish interest of the city. After his tour, R' Chaim Ozer enquired of the guide if he showed his guest "The attraction of Vilna?" The guide did not understand what R' Chaim was referring to, until finally R' Chaim said: "Did you take our guest to see R' Avraham Yeshaya". R' Avraham Yeshaya was none other than R' Avraham Yeshaya Karelitz, better known as the Chazon Ish. The Chazon Ish would soon rise to prominence when he emigrated to Eretz Yisrael. He was to become the leader of orthodoxy in one of the most trying times of our people. His opinion was sought far and wide. But in those days he shied away from the limelight, learning in privacy. However a few perceptive individuals, including R' Chaim Ozer were well aware of his brilliance and piety. Any visitor to Vilna seeking an audience with a Torah giant would surely run to see R' Chaim Ozer. However R' Chaim was already a gadol, from his many years of toiling in Torah. If one wanted to see a gadol in the making, R' Chaim Ozer pointed out that the correct address to visit was that of R' Avraham Yeshaya.
(The Meshech Chachma makes a brilliant point. Although there was a mitzva for the Leviim to carry the Aron, it only appeared as if they were carrying it. In fact, the Aron transported itself. More than this, it lifted the bearers of the Aron with it. Therefore we were forbidden to ever remove the staves from the Aron, to show that just as the poles were not required for carrying the Aron when it was in the Kodesh Kodashim, so too when the Bnei Yisrael travelled, the poles were not meant to carry the Aron.).
Let us not get carried away with our work - we should have set times for learning. Let us remember the lessons of the badim and constantly seek to connect to the Torah.
Daf Hashavua Kollel Beth HaTalmud Copyright (c) 2002 by Rabbi Yosef Levinson
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