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Shabbat Parashat Pinchas 5777

Parashat Hashavua: Sukka, Mishkan, Ohel, and Aron

Harav Yosef Carmel

The connection between a husband and wife is created by kiddushin (marriage), which comes from the root of kedusha, sanctity. This enables them to build a home where the Divine Presence dwells, as Chazal teach us: “If a husband and wife merit it, the Divine Presence is between them; if not, fire consumes them” (Sota 17a).

We have seen this idea in various forms in the previous parshiyot. Bilam reacted enthusiastically: “How good are your tents, Yaakov, your dwelling places (mishkenotecha), Israel” (Bamidbar 24:5). When you live in a tent in sanctity and purity, it turns into a mishkan. In the opposite direction, the sins of Bnei Yisrael with the Daughters of Moav, which led to the idolatry with Baal Peor, symbolize where improper relations can lead.

We will try to suggest a new explanation for the rebuke that Uriya (the husband of Bat Sheva) gave to David through hints that he gave. David tried repeatedly to get Uriya to go home, and Uriya responded strongly although carefully (to avoid rebelling against the king): “The aron and Israel and Yehuda are sitting in Sukkot” (Shmuel II, 11:11). The Yerushalmi (Sota 8:3) asks: Wasn’t the aron in Zion. It answers that the aron was in a sukka (a temporary dwelling).

According to Chazal, Uriya was not talking about the aron’s geographic location but its spiritual situation. He was hinting that David’s actions had banished the shechina and perhaps even delayed the building of the Beit Hamikdash, which would have allowed the aron to be entered into its permanent home in its Kodesh Kodashim. This is because the aron symbolizes the dwelling of the shechina.

The book within a book of “Vayehi binsoa ha’aron,” talking about the aron, teaches that when Bnei Yisrael preserve the sanctity of the encampment, they will be successful against their enemies. The keruvim that are on top of the aron, symbolize the dwelling of the shechina. When the two figures are facing each other it is a sign that Israel is fulfilling the will of Hashem (Bava Batra 99a). This loving stance between the figures also hints at the idea that with proper relationships between spouses, the shechina is found.

Returning to Uriya, after he mentioned the state of the aron, he mentioned that Israel and Yehuda were also in Sukkot. This was a further hint at the dwelling of the shechina. We know that the sukka creates a situation of living in the “shade of Hashem,” in the clouds of glory. There was such a cloud not only in the desert but over the tent of Sarah, the matriarch who “gave up” a yud in her name in favor of a heh. These two letters are the difference between the Hebrew words for man and woman and join together to form Hashem’s Name. Uriya strongly sent the message to David that his actions with Bat Sheva had done the opposite of bringing sanctity to the encampment, and it would not bode well for the building of the Beit Hamikdash. At that time, David was not yet ready to internalize the message.

May we merit more and more Jewish families with the proper “cloud” over their homes. Each one will bring us a step closer to the time that we will openly sense the shechina in the “place that Hashem chose.”

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