Wednesday, February 20, 2013

when kavanah alone is enough

Ramban comments based on Midrash that the reason the Torah uses the term “v’asu es ha’aron,” in the plural even though the rest of the commands to build the Mishkan (and the aron as well) are in the singular is because each and every member of Klal  Yisrael participated in the building of the aron.  The symbolic message is obvious: each and every member of Klal Yisrael has some portion in Torah. 

On a practical level, how exactly did everyone participate – what did they do?  Ramban gives three possibilities: 1) They donated gold that was designated specifically for use in the aron; 2) They helped in the physical crafting of the aron; 3) They had kavanah.

It’s the third option that caught my attention.  How exactly does kavanah count as participation?  It sounds just like what managers do where I work – You guys bring the gold, you guys do the work, and I’ll stand here and supervise by thinking deep thoughts of kavanah.  If the aron is the symbol of Torah, I’m even more perplexed.  There are people who contribute to Torah by learning – the parallel to fashioning the aron.  There are people who contribute to Torah by supporting Torah study – the parallel to donating gold for the aron.  But can someone participate in Torah study by watching someone else learn or contribute and just having kavanah?  How does that work?

I told my daughter (who I learned this Ramban with) that next time she forgets her homework she should tell the teacher that she had kavanah to do it and that's enough.  I figure if she quotes this Ramban the teacher should give partial credit.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous2:03 AM

    >>> ...can someone participate in Torah study by
    watching someone else learn or contribute and just having kavanah?

    as Moshe said to Yisro, v'ha'yisa lanu l'ei'nayim
    (Bamid. 10:31)-- through steady witness, an outside party objectively confirms the efforts/identity of an individual or group;

    as for example this blog-- R' Chaim sits, The
    Torah Learner; Commenters donate 2 cents apiece;
    The Greater Readership, the silent masses,
    frame the scene, confirming despite their dispersion the ongoing page;

    likewise women in the galleries of shuls, whose
    presence reinforces the main event of the men
    below; & mothers watching their young children
    fashion tiny, temple-like structures;

    two witnesses at a wedding or other occasion,
    can make it or break it...Rav Elazar's Watchers prove decisive: eidei mesira karti;

    Hashem's almighty kavanah is of course critical
    for the continued existence of the world, & for
    the development of the individual: histarta
    fanecha ha'yi'si nivhal (Teh 30:8)...