Thursday, February 19, 2015

Parsha: Each Jew’s Connection to Torah: Lessons from the Aron

Rav Turetsky

The Torah (Shemot 25:10) formulates the command to build an Aron in a unique way. In contrast to the commandments to build the other vessels, the Torah formulates the requirement to build the Aron in the plural, seemingly indicating that all of the Jewish people are to take a part in the construction of the Aron.

For many commentators, this is understood in light of the Aron’s inextricable link with Torah.[1] For them, the Torah teaches that all Jews must be connected to Torah. Interestingly, though, they offer alternate explanations as to how each person’s connection to Torah should manifest itself.

  1. Ramban (ad loc) explains based on the Medrash that each Jew needed to play a role in the construction of the Aron and through that they would merit success in Torah. Some donated to the Mishkan, while others were involved in helping Bezalel.
  2. Ohr HaChaim (ad loc) suggests that the Torah conveys a profound idea about Torah and Mitzvot. Torah can only be fulfilled in its totality through the involvement of the entirety of the Jewish people.  No individual Jew is capable of fulfilling each mitzvah. A Kohain cannot give any of the priestly gifts, and a Yisrael cannot perform all the tasks in the Mikdash. Each Jew needs others to ensure that the Torah is completely fulfilled.

These two approaches highlight different ways individuals can connect to Torah. For Ramban, it is through supporting ideals and endeavors. For Ohr HaChaim, it is through their personal involvement in Torah and mitzvot. While not mutually exclusive, each one highlights a different angle in the building of the metaphoric Aron.

May we all merit learning from each of these approaches, to develop our own connections to Torah and Mitzvot, while also helping support others in their roles as well.

[1] The Luchot are found within the Aron, and the Talmud in Yoma teaches that the crown of the Aron corresponds to the crown of Torah.

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