Thursday, February 03, 2011

4 amos of halacha

Sorry, I could not think of anything original to say this week. A bit of a likut instead:

"Li hakesef v'li hazahav
," says Hashem -- so what can we bring to the table for the building of the Mishkan? What can you give the King who literally has everything? The answer is, "Hakol b'ydei shamayim chutz m'yiras shamayim." "M'eis kol ish asher yidvenu libo tikchu es terumosi" -- R' Yosef Shaul Natahanson explains that the gift we can give is our nedivus lev, our decision to be generous, because that is completely under our own control.

Ain lo l’HK”H elah 4 amos shel halacha.” (Brachos 8) Where did Chazal come up with this number of “4 amos” from? The Iyun Ya’akov explains that the aron measured 2.5 amos x 1.5 amos – add the numbers together you get four. (The length of the aron represents bekiyus, the width, iyun. Since sinai tops oker harim, bekiyus is more valuable than iyun, it is the larger side. The gemara does not take account of the aron's height because it represents sisrei Torah, of which we have no conception. Why do all the measurements have halves? To emphasize the need to view oneself as always no more than halfway to achieving success, to emphasize that there is always more to grow towards completion.)

The badim, the polies used to carry the aron, were not permitted to be removed from their rings. This halacha is unique to the aron; there is no similar prohibition with respect to the shulchan and mizbeiach, also carried with poles. The Meshech Chochma explains that the poles of the aron remained in place even when the aron was at rest to demonstrate that these poles were not functional in nature -- they were not really needed to carry the aron. Chazal teach that the aron was “nosei es nos’av,” it carried those who carried it – it floated along by itself and did not really require physical exertion or support to be moved. These staves used for carrying the aron represent those who support Torah. Torah carries along its supporters – they get credit for expending their wealth and effort for the sake of Torah, but it is really the Torah which supports them.

The menorah is the symbol for pilpula shel Torah, in depth learning. Mikshah hi” – it was made of one solid block of gold. The many differing views of poskim and talmidei chachamim come from the same source, they are all part of the same solid block of gold.

The flowers and adornments of the menorah were also chiseled from that same solid block and not added on. Chasam Sofer explains that the interpretation and exposition of Torah, which is the beauty and glory of Torah, must be minei u’bei, from within the framework of Torah itself, not the product of other wisdoms and viewpoints grafted onto the body of Torah.

Though Moshe was unable to figure out how to fashion the menorah from that solid block and it had to make itself, which is why the pasuk uses the passive voice, “te’aseh es hamenorah,” the Torah in the same parsha later commands, “v’kein ta’aseh,” that we must make it. Learning is “yagata u’matzasa” – we must put in the effort, even though at the end of the day it is a metziya, our success is a gift from Hashem, above and beyond what our own efforts could produce.

Moshe was told by Hashem to make a Mishkan "k'chol asher ani mareh oscha," exactly as I saw you. Why the extra word "oscha" in the pasuk? The real Mishkan, the dwelling place of Hashem, is in the heart and soul of tzadikim. By looking at oscha, at Moshe himself, Klal Yisrael would understand what a true Mishkan is. We lack a Mikdash/Mishkan, but hopefully, if not by looking at ourselves, by looking at great people, we can catch a glimpse of what it means to have a hashra'as haShechina in our midst.


  1. No mention in the torah of the Aron's height?

    My torah says 1.5 Amos.

  2. Sorry - should says gemara, not Torah. Fixed the post.

  3. "k'chol asher ani mareh oscha" - Reb Yaakov Kaminetsky says a similar vort at the beginning of this week's sedrah - ve'atah tezaveh - atah is a higher madregah than Moshe, it is the actual atah, he compares it to alef daled nun yud which is a lower madregah than yud keh vov keh