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By Rabbi Yitzchok Adlerstein | Series: | Level:

The staves shall be in the rings of the Aron. They shall not be removed from it.


Meshech Chochmah: Chazal tell us[2] that removing the badim from the aron is halachically forbidden. Lke other prohibitions, it is punishable by lashes. Now, the aron is not the only major appliance of the mishkan that comes with staves. Both the altar and the table were equipped with staves. Regarding those two, however, the Torah only specifies that the staves be in place while they are being moved. Apparently, removing their staves at other times is not objectionable. Why are the staves of the aron different?

A midrash tells us that the Aron is identified with the Crown of Torah. Whereas not everyone is even eligible to wear the crown of kehunah or of monarchy, the Torah crown is available to anyone who wants to crown himself with it, simply for the asking. Thus there is constancy to the aron not shared by the other kelim.

Anyone, then, can have a relationship with Torah. But practical considerations can curtail the talmid chacham’s career. To thrive, the talmid chacham requires support from others. This may take the form of handouts, or of creating investment opportunities for the financially strangled. This support is alluded to in our pasuk by the staves – the items though which the journey of the Torah becomes possible.

The gemara[3] notes that in commanding the building of the aron, both the singular[4] and the plural[5] form of the verb is used. The Torah alludes to the roles of the few and many. By using both forms, the Torah suggests that the single talmid chacham should be assisted by the larger group of townspeople ready to offer their assistance. This universal support of Torah knows no restriction or limit. It must come all of the time; the staves representing support of the Torah must never be removed.

We can also suggest a different approach from the one we have taken till this point. It builds on a well-known position of the Rambam. He writes[6] that the menorah in the beis hamikdosh was lit not only at night, but in the morning as well. This is readily understandable. The light functioned as a reminder to the world of the presence of the Shechinah in the midst of the Jewish people. Its role was not to provide illumination. “Does G-d need light?”[7] Lighting the menorah each morning drove home this point. The menorah would provide no useful illumination during the brightness of the day. People who understood that also comprehended that its function did not change at night. Just as it did not serve to provide illumination by day, its role was not to provide useful light at night either. The daytime lighting impressed upon us that we needed to look elsewhere for the symbolic significance of the mitzvah; it was not to be found in the practical role of providing light.

The staves of the aron stand in a similar position. When the aron was at rest, they served no clear practical function. From this we realized that even when the aron was transported from place to place, the staves did not contribute functionally. As Chazal teach us,[8] the aron carried its bearers – not the opposite! As the symbolic abode of the One Who carries the universe, nothing needs to carry Him. The badim played no part in making it possible to bear the weight of the aron as it travelled. .

[1] Based on Meshech Chochman, Shemos 25:15

[2] Yoma 72A

[3] Yoma 72B

[4] Devarim 10A

[5] Shemos 25:10

[6] Hilchos Temidim U-Musafim 3:10

[7] Shabbos 22B

[8] Sotah 35A