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Shabbat Parashat Tetzaveh 5774

Parashat Hashavua: Israel and the Olive

Harav Shaul Yisraeli based on Siach Shaul, p. 281

The Ramban, in his introduction to Sefer Shemot, calls the sefer the Book of Liberation even though only its first section deals with the Exodus from Egypt. The Ramban says that the title actually relates to the end of the sefer, in the context of the Mishkan (Tabernacle), in describing the Divine Glory that dwelled in the cloud during the day and in the fire at night. At that time Bnei Yisrael were considered liberated. This teaches us that while external liberation is a condition for internal liberation, the crowning glory is the internal liberation.

Part of the basic content of the Mishkan is that it comes from the partnership of the entire nation. Everyone gives from his personal identity for the sake of the national edifice in such a way that it defies the standard situation. While usually, it is the whole that contains that which is in its individual parts, here the impact was that everything that was in the whole was received in return by the individual participant.

The pasuk (Shemot 25:2), in describing the donation, says “You will acquire for Me a donation,” as opposed to “give for Me a donation.” The midrash (Shemot Rabba 33:1) says that this is related to the good acquisition that Hashem gave to us (see Mishlei 4:2), referring to the Torah. That which you give and more comes back to you, for while an individual gave whatever specific element he gave, he received back the whole of the Mishkan, and the Divine Presence that dwelled in each individual soul as a result (see Shemot 25:8).

Among the “utensils” in the Mishkan, the most important one was the aron (ark), which contained the eidut (the testament). The aron had a special halacha – its staves, with which it was carried, could never be removed from it (ibid.). This represents the idea that even if the place of the aron is in the Mishkan, based on its element of acquisition, it is considered as going to each individual.

The pasuk says: “There is nothing in the aron but two Tablets” (Melachim I, 8:9). The double negative teaches us that in the aron were found both the Tablets that were intact and those that were broken at the Golden Calf (Bava Batra 14a). What does this have to with the testament? This shows that even when there are only the broken Tablets, the aron protects them, as the Mishkan as a whole protects the aron. The double negative comes to be inclusive.

We see this concept embodied in the man who is before us [the deceased]. He epitomized through the trials and tribulations he passed through that the Divine Presence can be present not just for the complete luchot, which represent Torah, but also for the broken luchot, even for a little piece of them. That is the testament for Israel. Even when the luchot are broken and the aron is not in its place, the staves remain in them. Whether a Jew feels the complete luchot or the broken ones, the Divine Presence is there and carries those who attempt to carry the aron.

From where does one get such power of perseverance? How can he remain unbowed when people give him no chance? There is an eternal flame in the Jewish heart, which no wind in the world can extinguish.

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