At Your Doorstep

"There you shall place the Ark of Testimony and screen the Ark with the Partition" (Shemot 40:3)

The Ark of Testimony (Aron Ha'edut) was placed in the Holy of Holies, and the Partition (Parochet) served as a division between the Holy of Holies and the second chamber of the Tabernacle, the Holy, where the Menorah was placed. The Menorah was outside the Parochet and the poles of the Aron Ha'edut could also be seen from the outside. When the Kohen lit the Menorah he faced the Parochet and would see the poles of the Aron Ha'edut.

We can question why the Aron Ha'edut was kept in the Holy of Holies, the innermost Sanctuary. Seemingly, it would be ideal for Bnei Yisrael to be able to see the Aron Ha'edut which represents the Torah, the main purpose of creation. The Aron Ha'edut housed the Tablets of Testimony, (Luchot Ha'edut), which is why the Aron is called 'Aron Ha'edut'. Were Am Yisrael able to see the Aron Ha'edut, they would have a constant reminder of the Luchot that were placed inside it. This would lead them to the conclusion that the Torah must be found deep in the hearts of each person, as David Hamelech said in Tehillim (40:9), "and Your Torah is in my innards".

So why was the Aron Ha'edut placed inside the Holy of Holies, where nobody could see it besides the Kohen Gadol, who would enter this most holy place only once a year on Yom Kippur, to pray and carry out the incense service. Would placing the Aron Ha'edut on the other side of the partition not strengthen our realization that the entire purpose of creation is to toil in Torah? At the end of a person's life, he is placed inside an aron (coffin) and it is only the Torah which he has acquired that will stand for him as a merit, as it says (Yeshaya 58:8), "Your righteous deeds ('צדקך') will precede you". 'צדק' refers to the Torah as it says (Devarim 16:20), "Righteousness, righteousness shall you pursue".

Being able to see the Aron will bring a person to the fundamental recognition that his body too must be like a Testimony for the Torah since a person's body is made up of two hundred and forty-eight limbs and three hundred and sixty-five sinews, which added together correspond to the six hundred and thirteen mitzvot of the Torah. If a person merits sanctifying his body through the Holy Torah, then in his grave too, his lips will utter the holy words of the Torah.

Of course, the way that the Mishkan was set up contains deep and sublime ideas, since the entire creation is alluded to in the Mishkan. The Mishkan was built by Betzalel with Divine inspiration, as Moshe Rabbeinu told him, 'בצל-אל היית', 'you were in the shadow of Hashem' and this is how you know the secrets of building the Mishkan, which hint to the secrets of the creation of the universe in its entirety. These concepts are unfathomable to our human minds, but with siyata dishmaya, we can offer the plain and metaphorical explanation that will help us understand the words of the Torah.

Harav Pacifici shlita, who used to be a Maggid shiur in the Kollel in Lyon, France, asked me a powerful question: The Torah writes that the Parochet was placed in front of the Aron Ha'edut but this is surprising since at the time of the second Beit Hamikdash, the Parochet was placed in front of the Even Hashesi'ah, the stone found in the Kodesh Hakedoshim since at that time the King Yeshayahu had hidden away the Aron Ha'edut. Since the Parochet was only placed in front of the Aron Ha'edut at the time of the first Beit Hamikdash, seemingly the Torah should have mentioned that the Parochet will also be placed in front of the Even Hashesi'ah.

With siyata dishmaya, I would like to answer this question with an inspiring idea. A person must know that the Torah is neither in heaven nor across the sea. Wherever a person can be found, Torah is there with him and he can delve into it and fulfill its commandments. The main reason why a person comes down to this world is to toil in Torah since learning brings to accomplishment. However, one should not make do with learning alone and not put one's learning into practice. We can bring a proof for this from the Chazal that tells us that Hashem considers a positive intention as if it has been carried out. This is only in the case if a person is unable to carry out his intention. However, if a person has a positive thought and can bring it to fruition yet he does not accomplish this act, then the intention is not considered as having been carried out.

We asked why the Aron Ha'edut was placed in the innermost Sanctuary. This could be so that a person should always be occupied with seeking the truth until he finds it. 'Believe one who toils and achieves', since it is indeed not far from you. In truth, the Aron Ha'edut was right there, not far away at all, it was only covered and separated by the Parochet. Why? Because the Aron Ha'edut contained the Luchot Ha'edut, the Holy Torah. This alludes to the fact that each person must invest toil and effort in order to merit acquiring the Torah. Even if at the moment it can't be seen, it is nevertheless at your doorstep. With investment, it can become yours.

The poles which were used to carry the Aron Ha'edut could be seen from the outside, even though the Aron Ha'edut itself was covered by the Parochet. This contains a message that we must grasp hold of these poles which represent our holy sefarim, and through holding on to them we will reveal the great treasure that is concealed in the Holy Torah, the Torah that is deeper than the seabed. This will enable a person to taste the sweetness of Torah and see how pleasant is its merchandise.

A person must try and become an Aron Ha'edut. He should be as strong as a lion in overcoming his evil inclination, especially now that we no longer have a Beit Hamikdash, Kohen Gadol and Menorah which all had the power to arouse a person to understand and fulfill his role in this world. Studying Torah, which leads to its accomplishment, will enable a person to transform himself into a new being until he is considered like an Aron Ha'edut.

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