Friday, May 10, 2013

Netziv on what we can learn from how the klei hamishkan were wrapped for travel

Ramban notes that Sefer BaMidbar does not contain many mitzvos; it’s mostly the story of Bnei Yisrael’s travels through the midbar.  Chasam Sofer writes that if there are few halachos l’doros in nigleh that we can take away from the sefer, it means there is a hidden nistar meaning that we are meant to take away.   I guess we could also say that we need to take away hashkafa, midos, mussar, deyos, etc.  Just as we darshen every detail in the text to extrapolate halacha, so too, we need to invest the same effort in attending to the details of the text to find the messages that are being taugh to us in those other areas as well.

Look at what the Netziv was able to find in the details of how the klei hamishkan were packed up for travel:
1)  All the kelim are described as being wrapped in techeiles and then covered with some other outer covering, with the exception of the aron, where techeiles was shown on the outside.  Techeiles reminds us of heaven; it represents G-d’s revealed hashgacha.  The klei hamishkan, the shulchan, the mizbeiach, etc. serve as symbols of malchus, wealth, kehunah, etc. (the details are not important).  In all of these areas G-d’s presence lurks beneath the surface.  The casual observer thinks a king holds real power; he does not realize that Hashem is the one who behind the scenes directs the affairs of state.  The casual observer sees wealth and thinks the rich man is lucky in business; he does not see that it’s all because of Hashem’s bracha.  The only exception in the aron.  When it comes to Torah, Hashem’s hashgacha and bracha are obvious in what makes a talmid chacham who he is.

2)  Usually the pesukim first refer to the kli being taken and then the techeiles covering, e.g. “V’al shulchan hapanim yifrisu begged techeiles…” (4:7), “V’al mizbach ha’zahav yifrisu begged techeiles…” (4:11)  The exception is the menorah, where the pasuk says “V’lakchu begged techeiles v’kisu es menoas ha’maor…” (4:9)  In most areas of life you have to work hard until you get somewhere and then Hashem will respond in kind with his extra hashgacha.  In talmud torah, which is what the light of the menorah represents, one needs that special siyata d’shemaya before becoming a gadol or a big talmid chacham.  Without it, one can never get there.

3)      The kelim of the mizbeiach were all wrapped separately from the mizbeiach itself, but not so the menorah, where everything was wrapped together in one bundle.  A leader must often stand alone, apart and above the crowd.  A rebbe, however, must be inseperable from his talmidim.    


  1. For #3 above ("a rebbe, however, must be inseperable from his talmidim") -- which is a very beautiful explanation and message -- we suggested two additional explanations at our Shabbat table:

    a. if the menorah represents the light of Torah, the "utensils" of the menorah can symbolize its supporters. Keeping the menorah and its utensils close together symbolizes the classic message of the equal importance and merit of Yissachar and Zevulun.

    b. One of my son's came up with this, which I love (!): the light of the menorah represents the shechina (chazal like to say ner ma’aravi especially represented the shechina), and the utensils represent His servants – Israel, or tzaddikim. The overall message is that even when the shechina is concealed, e.g. during exile when the mikdash is dismantled and the Jewish people move from place to place, underneath the veils Hashem remains intimately close to His servants.

  2. I like your son's pshat!