Friday, February 23, 2007

Can You Handle That ?!?!

The Sefer HaChinuch ( mitzva 96 ) points out that the very shape of the utensils in the BeisHaMikdash were designed to inspire us and teach us "great and awesome lessons".
The Aron HaKodesh had a unique addendum to it's shape - not the crown, not the cherubim - the badim, the handles. They weren't designed to simply be a carrying tool - as the passuk points out - they may never be removed from the aron.
So what can we learn from the handles ?
Well, each one of the keillim in the Beis Hamikdash represented something - the Menorah - wisdom, the Shulchan - wealth and the Mizbeach represented devotion. While some of these keillim had handles - the handles were not part of the inherent shape and could therefor be removed.
Handles are a way of grasping something. Designed specifically to make a handhold possible, we can say handles represent accessibility or approachability. The Torah's wisdom - has no shortcuts - no handles. If you want to become wise - you must toil. Period. Same goes for wealth - we may have an approach ( giving maaser does come with a promise of wealth ) but that isn't a given - Hashem will always be the final arbiter of a person's financial well being. Even devoting oneself to Hashem through service or prayer isn't automatically going to click. It requires effort.
to our connection to As opposed to the Aron. The Aron played host to the "witnesses" of the covenant between Hashem and His children. The Aron also had handles that never left it's side - the accessibilityHashem - the ability to tap into it and reaffirm it never wanes. Wisdom, wealth - these things may be important and Hashem does enrich our lives, at times, with them. But our inherent connection to Him - that's something that is always available - no matter what no matter when.

That was the very nature of the Aron - to teach us this idea - that's why it is regarding this mitzva that the Chinuch says that the shape of the keillim was meant to teach us something - because it's not just that the handles must stay to complete the utensil - but that the lesson we are to learn was from the handles themselves.

Can we handle that ?!

Sunday, February 11, 2007

How About Dirt ?

When Hashem tells us that we are supposed to worship Him and serve Him - we might expect that we would be required to exert ourselves to the utmost to do so in as grandiose fashion as possible - not so, says the Torah.

"An altar of earth you should make for me ... " ( Shemos 20:21 )

Hashem requires from you, not gold, not silver - just a little earth - and your devotion. As our sages teaches us "Rachmana Liba Bai " ( 'The Merciful One [Hashem] requires only the [devotion of the] heart').

So why does Hashem only ask for a mizbeach of earth ? Is this because the service is worth so little that it can be fulfilled on a mound of dirt ?
Is it because our inner devotion is so powerful it can transform a pile of mud into an Altar fit for serving the King of All Kings ?

Thursday, February 08, 2007

So What ?!

Why Yisro gets his own parasha is something of a conundrum. You see, he wasn't a tzaddik like Noach nor a zealot like Pinchas. He wasn't even Jewish. But his name is on the parasha ( of Matan Torah no less ) to teach us an important lesson.

He never said "So What ?!"

When we see things that are inspirational - what do we do with that inspiration ? Do we even recognize it ? And then, do we seek to implement a change in our lives because of it ? Yisro used it as a springboard to make a journey across the desert to find the Jews. Where will your journey lead you ? And will you have the courage to take it ?