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(The shiur was delivered on Mossa'ei Shabbat Parashat Hayyei-Sarah, 5760)
Hazal instituted that seven people are called to the Torah on Shabbat. No fewer may be called, but a congregation may call more than seven. After these aliyot the maftir is called to the Torah for the final aliyah. The stature of maftir is greater than any other aliyah, even than the final aliyah which includes the recitation of half-kaddish after the reading. Therefore, a mourner within the first year after the passing of a parent should try to receive specifically the maftir aliyah in order to benefit the soul of his parent. Masechet Kalah Rabbati (2) tells of how Rabbi Akiva saved the soul of a sinner by teaching his son enough to enable him to recite kaddish and barechu so that the congregation answered after him. According to Kabbalah, the sixth aliyah, which corresponds to Yossef Hasadik, is the greatest aliyah. One should therefore make an effort to purchase this aliyah. The third aliyah during minhah on Shabbat also surpasses other aliyot in terms if its significance.
The one reading the Torah must do so carefully, following the correct pronunciation and tunes. He must therefore prepare adequately in advance, reading over the parashah to himself at least three times, as ruled by the Shulhan Aruch (139:1). If he makes a mistake in the notes he need not repeat the word or words; if, however, he mispronounced a word, he must read it again.
The one called to the Torah for maftir must know how to recite the haftarah properly; he must therefore prepare the reading beforehand. He should read the haftarah out loud with the rest of congregation reading along quietly with him while listening to his recitation. One who does not know how to read the haftarah should not be called for maftir. Everything we said concerning the reading of the haftarah, including the unique stature of this aliyah, applies both on Shabbat and Yom Tov.
One receiving an aliyah must read along with ba'al korei. If he does not, then the berachot he recites are rendered berachot le'vatalah (wasted berachot) according to the view of the Shulhan Aruch. Therefore, one who does not know how to read may not receive an aliyah.
For this reason, a blind person should preferably not be called to the Torah, as he cannot read along with the ba'al korei. However, places where the custom has been to give aliyot to the blind need not change their practice. In Eress Yisrael, the practice follows the ruling of the Mehaber (139:3) not to call blind people to the Torah. Even if the only kohen present is blind, a Yisrael should be called for the first aliyah. In extenuating circumstances, such as when a blind person has a "yarssheit" and very much wishes to receive an aliyah, he may be given the maftir aliyah, since seven people have already been called to the Torah in fulfillment of the day's obligation. We may then, in these extreme situations, rely on the ruling of the Maharil allowing the blind to receive aliyot. However, this is on condition that the blind person knows how to read the haftarah properly either by heart or by reading Braille. This is how I ruled when an actual case of this sort arose.
If an error was found in the Sefer Torah requiring the congregation to take a new Sefer, they need not read the entire parashah from the beginning; they rather read from that pasuk where the mistake was discovered. However, they must read no fewer than three pesukim from the second Sefer Torah. Therefore, if the mistake was found within three pesukim from the end of the parashah, the ba'al korei begins three pesukim earlier. After the Torah reading both Sifrei Torah are returned to the aron kodesh.
Both on Shabbat and weekdays, one receiving an aliyah must recite at least three pesukim. If he mistakenly read only two and recited the concluding berachah, he reads an additional pasuk and then repeats the concluding berachah; he need not repeat the introductory berachah.
If the ba'al korei skipped a pasuk or even a single word during Torah reading on Shabbat, he must repeat the parashah from the point where he skipped - even if this requires taking the Sefer Torah again from the aron. Should this occur, then three aliyot are called, with each reading at least three pesukim. On Monday or Thursday or during minhah on Shabbat, the ba'al korei need not repeat the reading, so long as there were three aliyot with each consisting of at least three pesukim. Strictly speaking, a Sefaradi may receive an aliyah even if the Torah is written in Ashkenazi script, and vice-versa. Optimally, however, one should receive an aliyah only to a Torah written in accordance with his family tradition. Nevertheless, one who is called to a Torah written in the other tradition should not hesitate, but should rather go to the Torah and recite the berachot without concern.
A congregation should not disqualify from use the Sifrei Torah of the Yemenites, which have certain, slight differences from our Sifrei Torah. The same applies to the Sifrei Torah of the Ashkenazim which spell the word "daka" (in Debarim 23:2) with a "alef," whereas the Sifrei Torah of the Sefaradim spell it with an "heh." Likewise, a Sefaradi may wear tefillin written in Ashkenazi script, and vice-versa. A Sefaradi must ensure, however, that the tefillin are written in the sequence prescribed by the Shulhan Aruch, as some Ashkenazim follow a different practice concerning the sequence of the parshiyot. According to the view of the Shulhan Aruch, these tefillin are invalid for use.
"You shall make a menorah of pure gold"
Rabbenu Bahya zs"l writes: "The menorah alludes to Torah, which is called 'light,' as it says, 'For a misvah is a candle, and Torah is light.' It was made from a 'kikar' of pure gold, no less and no more, just as the Torah is complete and perfect, and it says regarding it, 'You shall not add onto it, nor shall you detract from it.' This is what is meant when it says, 'The Torah of Hashem is complete.' It was made from a single block [of gold], symbolizing oneness, that it was given in its entirety by the Master of everything, as a single unit, at Mount Sinai. It contained seven candles, alluding to the fact that the Torah includes all seven areas of wisdom in the world (as the Ramban writes in the introduction to his commentary to the Humash, that King Shelomoh knew all the fields of wisdom in the world from studying the Torah, with its commentaries, intricacies, letters and even crowns over the letters)."
"You shall make a menorah of pure gold"
Rabbenu Ovadia Seforno zs"l explains that the menorah consisted of the central branch, three branches on the right, and three on the left. This represents the three components of wisdom - the supreme light, the analytical wisdom, and the practical wisdom. For example, the feeling of faith implanted within a person evolves from the supreme light. Delving into this faith, understanding it logically and intellectually, such as the analysis in the "Sha'ar Hayihud" section of the work, "Hovot Halevavot," belongs to the analytical area of wisdom. The practical result of this study, such as prayer to Hashem and clinging to Him, is the result of the final category, the practical wisdom. Like the menorah, it is all made from a single block. Nevertheless, the pasuk says that all the seven candles shone towards the center of the menorah. The analytical and practical studies must be directed towards the divine light that shines within a person's soul.
"You shall make a menorah of pure gold"
The Sefer Hahinuch (misvah 104) writes: "We should not exert our minds in search of a reason why Hashem would command that there be seven, rather than eight, branches in the menorah, because the details are innumerable and the mind can never comprehend them. All His misvot are whole and complete, and I have heard that the Kabbalists have beautiful reasons and deep secrets for each of the details."
In the work "Akedat Yis’hak" (49), Rabbenu Yis’hak Aramah zs"l indeed discusses the details concerning the construction of the menorah, after drawing the parallel between it and Torah. He demonstrates how the branches parallel the pesukim in the chapter of Tehillim, "Torat Hashem temimah meshivat nafesh." The Hebrew word used for the menorah's branches, "kaneh," comes from the word "acquisition," referring to the acquisition of Torah, as it is written, "Acquire wisdom, acquire understanding; in all your acquisitions acquire understanding." The goblets in the menorah allude to the need for one to turn himself into a receptacle ready to receive wisdom, keeping an open ear and heart. The knobs in the menorah symbolize the fact that the sugyot must be clear and consistent, they must all come together like a round ball. The flowers in the menorah indicate that the words of Torah yield fruit, the "hiddushim" that one arrives at over the course of his study. The menorah stood eighteen handbreadths tall, the average height of a person, teaching us that Torah builds a person and fills him in his entirety. The number eighteen is also the numerical value of "hai" - "life" - alluding to the fact that one who increases Torah increases his life in both worlds. After elaborating at length in all the details of the menorah, the Akedat Yis’hak concludes, "The pure menorah must always be set as a commemoration before our eyes, and the fiery sparks of its candles shall shine from both sides and radiate light onto our faces. Its fire shall not be extinguished day or night from the walls of our hearts, it must remind us, shine upon us, and awaken our ears. Let us gird our loins to become consecrated such that all our actions are always pleasing before Hashem!"
"You shall make a menorah of pure gold"
The Alshich Hakadosh zs"l also noted the parallel between the height of the menorah - eighteen handbreadths - and the average height of a person. He writes that a person must turn himself into "pure gold," by eliminating all impurities and improper elements from within him, so that he can receive the light. The menorah was made from a single block of gold, symbolizing the fact that all of one's conduct must be perfect: one should not think one way intellectually and behave differently, or speak differently from what he actually feels in his heart.
Rabbi Haim Mordechai Labaton zs"l
The great Rabbi Haim Mordechai Labaton zs"l was the rabbi of Arab Soba, but his influence spread far and wide throughout the country, guiding Jews along the proper path and repairing any breaches of Torah. Once, during a particularly harsh winter, one of the respected members of the community of Kilz visited with him. The rabbi spoke with him about the community and inquired about every detail.
"Has the bitter cold affected the shohet's meticulousness in your town?" he asked. As we know, a shohet must ensure to check his knife for even the slightest nick. The harsh weather, the rabbi feared, could potentially dull the shohet's sensitivity and care in this regard.
"Oh no," the guest replied laughingly. "Our shohet is never cold; he drinks liquor and warms himself before beginning his work."
Rabbi Haim Mordechai heard what the man said and shuddered. The shehitah performed by someone intoxicated is invalid. He could not believe that the townspeople did not know this explicit halachah. Perhaps they thought this was just an added stringency. In any event, he had to save them from this grave transgression!
He immediately stood up and decided to travel to Kilz to see if this was true. His family was frightened. The roads at that time were very dangerous; the weather was harsh and the trip was long and difficult. But the rabbi paid no heed to these concerns. He traveled that entire day and through the night, and at sunrise he arrived in Kilz. He went immediately to the slaughterhouse and waited for the shohet to arrive. The butchers came with their animals and were stunned to see the revered rabbi, the spiritual leader of the country. Soon thereafter the shohet arrived, happy and giddy. He extended a greeting to the rabbi, and the smell of arak filled the air.
"I forbid you from slaughtering today," the rabbi ordered. Before the butchers could protest, the rabbi pulled out a slaughtering knife from his bag, which he had prepared before his trip. He recited the berachah and began slaughtering, right before the eyes of the stunned shohet. When he finished, he turned to the shohet and said, "Come with me." He took him to the community leaders and said, "This shohet was caught and must be removed from his post until he promises to abstain from liquor!"
The shohet, who was likely still intoxicated, cried, "I will not obey! I will continue doing my work in spite of everything!"
The rabbi looked at him sternly and said, "One thing is clear - you will not continue your work, either by your own decision or against your will!"
"We shall see!" the shohet replied.
The rabbi returned home, and on that very day the shohet's funeral was conducted.
According to the Order of the Shulhan Aruch
By Rav David Yossef shlit"a, based on the rulings of Rav Ovadia Yossef shlit"a
The Halachot of Interruptions During Pesukei D'zimrah
One may not interrupt Pesukei De'zimrah with any mundane speech from the beginning of Baruch She'amar until the end of Amidah, even after concluding Yishtabah and before beginning the berachah of yosser or.
If one completes the berachah of Baruch She'amar before the hazzan, he recites "amen" to the hazzan's conclusion of the berachah, even if the individual has yet to proceed to Pesukei De'zimrah itself. One may likewise answer "amen" to any berachah he hears someone else recite.
If one did interrupt with mundane speech, even after concluding Baruch She'amar and before proceeding to Pesukei De'zimrah itself, he need not repeat Baruch She'mar.
One may not recite "amen" while he is in the middle of the berachah of Baruch She'amar or in the middle of the berachah of Yishtabah, regardless of which berachah he hears. This applies, however, only when one has begun the conclusion of Baruch She'amar or Yishtabah - from "Baruch Atah Hashem… " If one hears a berachah before that point, he may recite "amen" and then continue with Baruch She'amar or Yishtabah from the point where he left off.
If one hears kaddish while he is in the middle of the berachah of Baruch She'amar or Yishtabah, then if he has yet to begin "Baruch Atah Hashem…" he recites "amen" with the congregation; otherwise, he recites the first five "amen" responses in kaddish - meaning, through "da'amiran be'alma ve'imru amen," but not the other responses. And when in such a situation one recites "Yehe Shemeh Rabbah," he recites only until "almaya yitbarach," even if he normally follows the custom to recite through "da'amiran be'alma."
In between the chapters of Pesukei De'zimrah one may greet those people whom he respects and respond to a greeting of anyone. In the middle of a chapter, one may initiate a greeting to those whom he fears - such as his father or rabbi - and respond to a greeting extended to him by those whom he respects.
I owe an apology and will now fulfill this obligation. I apologize before a dear friend of mine, a renowned speaker, a man of profound thought, a ben Torah in every sense of the term, who has amassed an enormous wealth of in-depth knowledge, and, most importantly for our purposes here, a man of truth. Never - he told me - has he ever lied. And herein lies the main thrust of my apology - that I doubted his words. You will certainly agree with me, however, that there was basis for my doubts. He told me that he was invited to speak in the army. He accepted the invitation and delivered his talk to a group of soldiers, and he told me that one-third of them did not know who Moshe Rabbenu was. He described to me his utter shock, how he was dumbfounded to learn of their ignorance. I told him that this cannot be. It is simply inconceivable that young men who grew up in Eress Yisrael, even if they were educated in secular schools, would never have heard of Moshe Rabbenu. I said that even non-Jews throughout the world, in Europe and America, have heard of Moses. But he told that this was the fact. I doubted him, and I want to apologize.
I apologize because somebody saw fit to show me a newspaper clipping, an article that he thought would interest me. I cite here several paragraphs from the article:
"Dov Elbaum, reporter, author and university instructor of Jewish philosophy, did not know how to handle the shock, when he dictated in an advanced course in philosophy several passages from the story of the flood and the Tower of Babel, and it turned out that not only were the students not proficient in the material, they simply did not recognize it at all. They claimed that this was the first time they had ever read it!
"… In another class it became clear to me that the students had no idea who Yosef was and what he did in Egypt. What did I say? What could I have said? This was dumbfounding. I came to teach an advanced course in philosophy, and it turns out that they do not even know the alphabet."
So, what do you say? Frightening to the point of disbelief. Just so that you do not claim that I made this whole thing up, this is a quote from the "Sofshavua" section in an Israeli newspaper, from the weekend of Parashat Yitro, page 49. But this is only the beginning. It gets far worse as the article continues:
"Professor Yaira Amit, from the Bible department in Tel Aviv University, also met with quite a surprise, when university students approached her and asked who Yaakov was.
"'This is exactly what happened,' she says. 'It turned out that they did not know because the chapters dealing with Yaakov were among the optional chapters in the Bible study program, and many teachers skipped over them. I asked them why they suddenly now express interest in Yaakov, after having lived without him for twenty-two years. What did I discover? They are now studying in their literature course a book called "Esau," and they had to find the parallels to the Biblical account of the story of Yaakov. Otherwise, they would have continued living in the State of Israel without knowing who Yaakov was. "A person absolutely can complete his schooling in Israel without learning the story of David and Goliath, for example, or without knowing who the prophet Amos was, because these chapters are not required in the educational curriculum.'"
Any additional comment is superfluous. They learn about the principles of Islam, they review passages from the Shiraa, they study the foundations of Christianity, and they never hear of Yaakov Avinu. This is the education in the 2000's in the Jewish State that was established after two thousand years. Let this be known to parents who are hesitant regarding their children's education. They should realize what choice lies before them. Let them make whichever decision they make, but with open eyes: Do they want an education bereft of any heritage, where their children will learn nothing about our culture, from which they will emerge with no background in Tanach or Judaism? Or do they want a generation of continuity, of broad horizons, infused with our glorious heritage that has continued for the last 3,300 years?
Giant deer are found today only in two groups of islands situated very far from one another - the Galápagos Islands in the Pacific Ocean, and the islands of Aldabra and Seychelles in the western Indian Ocean. In ancient times, the giant deer was widespread in many tropical and subtropical regions, until a sudden change nearly led to its extinction. People discovered these islands and recognized the immense benefit they could reap from the deer's meat and fat. The islands then became a regular stop for ships sailing in the Pacific, as there they could fill their water jugs and stock their food storage containers with the venison of these giant deer. It reached such a point that in places where the giant deer had numbered three thousand in every flock - they were completely extinct.
It is really quite difficult to understand: Didn't the people who came to these islands realize that they were causing the extinction of the deer? Did they simply have no concern for the fate of this endangered species? Perhaps they were simply such bad people that they wanted to destroy creation? It would seem more likely that what characterized their conduct was a lack of calculated thought at that moment. They saw before them a chance to very easily obtain food and did not consider the long-term effects of their conduct. Thinking things out from the outset, taking responsibility for one's actions - all this is part of the day-to-day life of a Jew, which he perceives as an obligation, not an option. There is no such concept for a Jew as what in the street is often called, "In the meantime it works for me." Every action one takes requires careful consideration and foresight. This finds expression in every step along the way, from the fulfillment of missvot down to one's attitude towards all of creation. Indeed, Hashem said to Adam, "Look at My creation, how pleasant and beautiful it is; and everything I created, I created for you. Take care not to ruin and destroy My universe!"
The Sin and Its Punishment (7)
Flashback: Berona Pazi, a merchant from Alexandria, fell captive to a group of natives and was ultimately transported to a slave market in Spain. The master who purchased him discovered his talents and appointed him supervisor over all his property. Having no children of his own, the master, towards the end of his life, freed Berona and named him inheritor of all his wealth. Berona wanted to return to his family and hometown, but discovered, much to his horror, that he had been declared dead by the rabbinical court, and his wife had remarried. His heart sank, and he returned to Spain. When he got off the boat he passed by the slave market and saw a white slave in his middle-aged years standing and waiting to be purchased - just as he had, at that same spot, eight years earlier.
"This is exactly how I must have looked then," Berona thought in wonder. He approached the slave and began speaking to him in Spanish, but the slave spoke only Arabic. To the slave's utter surprise, Berona began questioning him in fluent Arabic. The slave told him that he was from Marrakesh, Morocco, where his family and business are still located. He crossed the desert on a business trip and was attacked by pirates, and was eventually brought to Spain for sale at the slave market. Berona's gut told him that this man was Jewish, a fellow Jew in trouble, in the precise situation he had been just eight years earlier. He could not, of course, ask him, since there were many ears listening to their conversation. He would then subject both himself and the captive to burning at the stake. He therefore decided to look into the matter some other time. In the meantime, assuming his instinct is correct, he has the opportunity to fulfill the great missvah of pidyon shevuyim (redeeming Jewish captives). He figured he would purchase the slave and take him home. When the two would be alone, he would ask him whether he is Jewish. If he is, then he would free him and send him back home, before - Berona thought to himself bitterly - before he is declared dead, before his wife remarries…
Berona immediately put his plan into action. The slave did not sell for much; after all, he was neither young nor strong. He made the purchase and took the slave home. When they were alone, he began asking the slave about his family. The slave's eyes shed many tears as he spoke of his wife and children. Berona inquired as to their names, hoping to thereby discover whether or not this was a Jewish family. His hopes, however, did not materialize. The wife's name was Sultanah, the daughter was named Solikah, and the sons were Ibrahim and Yusuf. There was no way of knowing whether they were really Avraham and Yossef, and whether the slave's name, Salmah, was derived from Shelomoh.
He therefore decided to ask directly. "Tell me, are you Jewish?"
The slave's face turned white, and he could not speak.
Berona made a note of the fact that the slave did not deny it, and he did not press the matter any further. If he really was Jewish, he perhaps would not withstand the test and would deny his Jewishness out of fear of the death penalty in effect for any Jew on Spanish soil. On the other hand, he couldn't simply say, "Don't worry, I'm Jewish, too." If he would do so, he would become a hostage in the hands of his slave. He could not allow himself to reveal his secret. Time will tell, he thought to himself. In the meantime he will observe the man and see if he tries to avoid working on Shabbat and refrains from bread during the spring.
Indeed, he was correct. The slave's name was actually Shelomo and was Jewish. He knew that no Jew was permitted in Spain and that should his identity be discovered he would be sentenced to burning at the stake. He knew that his master suspected him of being Jewish and that it was forbidden for any Jew to deny his Jewishness. What if his master would insist on a straight answer? What if he would tell someone of his suspicion and get the authorities involved? His fears gave him no rest, and he could not sleep at night. He was gripped by terrible fear, and finally one day he fled.
To be continued
It is told that in Buckingham Palace there is one wing guarded day and night, where the royal treasures are kept - crowns adorned with precious jewels, royal scepters, innumerable pieces of jewelry and pearls. It is hard to estimate the value of this treasure. It would be very worthwhile to go and have a look, but in that wing there is a locked room, into which entry is denied to even those who have permission to enter the gates. Who knows how much wealth is contained in that room! And in the middle of that room there is a locked safe. There, of course, is kept the most precious of all the treasures in the room. Would you prepared to devote, let's say, an hour a day to earn the contents of that safe?
The Al-mighty is far wealthier than the royal family of England, inestimably so. He, too, has a "room of treasures" into which not everybody earns entry. This is the Bet Hamikdash. One must first sanctify himself, purify himself, and even then may walk only until the kohanim's section begins. The kohanim are allowed entry into the azarah of the Mikdash, but they must stop before the parochet; they may not enter the innermost chamber, the kodesh hakodashim. There, even the kohen gadol may enter only on Yom Kippur, when he must first offer incense. And there, in the kodesh hakodashim, lies the "safe," the aron, the ark of the covenant, and even the kohen gadol may not remove the kapporet, the covering of the ark; even he may not open the safe.
And what is inside this safe? "You shall place in the aron the testimony that I am giving you." Rashi explains: "The Torah, which serves as a testimony between Me and you that I commanded you the misvot written in it." This is the hidden treasure, and anyone can earn it - by participating in a daily Torah class!
In a deep cellar, reachable via an underground tunnel, underneath the site of the kodesh hakodashim on the Temple Mount, is located the aron, the golden ark of the covenant, which contains the two luhot that Moshe brought down from the heavens, upon which the Ten Commandments are engraved, "written with the finger of G-d." It was hidden there by King Yoshiyahu, around two and a half millennia ago, and ever since it has awaited its redemption, the rebuilding of the Bet Hamikdash, when it will be restored to its place in the kodesh hakodashim, speedily and in our days, amen.
The aron is covered by the kapporet, a slab made of pure gold one-handbreadth thick. From the two ends of the kapporet protrude - from the same block of gold - two keruvim, figures who resemble angels, their faces resembling those of young children, their wings spread over the kapporet. Their height, including the wings, is ten handbreadths, around one meter. As stated, the entire kapporet - including the keruvim - was made from a single block of pure gold, used as a covering over the aron.
The depth and meaning behind the details of the Mishkan and its contents are endless. Entire worlds depend on their precise construction, as explained in the works of Kabbalah. We, however, who do not deal in the hidden areas of Torah, will study the "revealed" meaning behind the kapporet. The aron symbolizes the scholar, who contains and stores the Torah in his heart. The Gemara (Yoma 72b) derives from the construction of the aron several lessons concerning the proper conduct expected of a scholar. The keruvim, with their youthful faces, symbolize the students. We will focus on them, the keruvim, and their significance.
The Torah requires that the keruvim be fashioned from the same block of gold used for the kapporet. A slab of gold one and a half amot wide and two and a half amot long, was taken and banged with the anvil until two winged keruvim were formed as an integral part of the aron's covering. Why? Why didn't the Torah allow for the much easier method of forming them separately and then attaching them to the kapporet?
Before answering this question, let us first take a close look at two pesukim in our parashah. Hashem commands the construction of the aron and then says to Moshe, "You shall place into the aron the testimony that I am giving you." Then Moshe is commanded to make the kapporet and keruvim, and we read, "and into the aron you shall place the testimony that I am giving you." Rashi asks, "I do not know why it is repeated; after all, it already says, 'You shall place into the aron the testimony'."
The Maharal of Prague zs"l provides an answer. The Torah wishes to stress that the kapporet is more than just a covering for the aron. The kapporet and keruvim are instead part of the aron; they, like the aron itself, serve the luhot. Hashem therefore repeats the command of placing the tablets in the aron in the context of the kapporet.
As we know, everything the Maharal writes contains great depth and profundity. Here, too, we must understand, what difference does it make whether the kapporet serves merely as a covering, or part of the aron itself?
The answer to this question is so beautiful, so correct, and so penetrating. As mentioned, the aron represents the scholar, the rabbi, the rosh yeshivah. He contains the Torah, he serves as a receptacle for the luhot and their awesome sanctity. This we all know. But the keruvim, which symbolize the yeshivah students, although they certainly have their place aside the aron, over the luhot, one could perhaps look at them as but a covering. This is their place; young men from a certain age until a certain age belong in the yeshivah, and that's all. They may learn more, they may learn less, but in any event this is a transitional period until their wedding. But in truth, this is not the case. The kapporet must be seen as part of the aron. The essence of the ben yeshivah lies in the fact that the Torah constitutes the central aspect of his life: "The keruvim shall face the kapporet," they should look towards the luhot underneath. Of course, the yeshivah student has plans for the future, he hopes to "spread his wings" and will, with G-d's help, succeed. But these plans are like the wings of the keruvim that hover over the aron: They, too, must revolve around the world of Torah, to grow in Torah, to earn a position in Torah which affords him satisfaction and respect both in this world and the next, to disseminate Torah, to perpetuate the heritage, to be a rosh yeshivah, a rabbi, a judge on a rabbinical court, a spiritual advisor, to involve himself in community affairs, in bringing closer those who have strayed - so many opportunities there are in the world of Torah!
The Gemara (Sukkah 5b) proves that the keruvim's wings did not rise very high to the heavens, but rather hovered over the kapporet, over their heads, at a height of ten handbreadths. The plans for the future, he hopes to "spread his wings" and will, with G-d's help, succeed. But these plans are like the wings of the keruvim that hover over the aron: They, too, must revolve around the world of Torah, to grow in Torah, to earn a position in Torah which affords him satisfaction and respect both in this world and the next, to disseminate Torah, to perpetuate the heritage, to be a rosh yeshivah, a rabbi, a judge on a rabbinical court, a spiritual advisor, to involve himself in community affairs, in bringing closer those who have strayed - so many opportunities there are in the world of Torah!
The Gemara (Sukkah 5b) proves that the keruvim's wings did not rise very high to the heavens, but rather hovered over the kapporet, over their heads, at a height of ten handbreadths. The plans for the future must be within the world of Torah, they must be subjugated to the Torah. And there is so much work that needs to be done.
But first and foremost, the students must concern themselves with their progress during their stay in the yeshivah - the absolute devotion to Torah study. They must realize that the kapporet is part of the aron, and the keruvim are part of the kapporet, all produced from a single block of gold. The different sections are not attached or screwed together; they are all one. The yeshivah student grows from within the yeshivah, he develops within its walls, he becomes one with his yeshivah - like the keruvim and the aron, made from a single block of pure gold.
Eliyahu Ben Masuda and Yis'hak Shaul Ben Leah
Produced by Cong. Bnai Yosef and the Aram Soba Foundation - translated from Ma'ayan Hashavua in Israel
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