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Friday, February 24

The Weekly Shtikle - Terumah

The story goes that R' Chaim of Volzhin had trouble understanding a certain passage of Zohar and appeared before his rebbe, R' Eliyahu of Vilna (GR"A) and asked him to explain it to him. The GR"A then proceeded to give him the following pshat on a pasuk in this week's parsha. The pasuk (25:11) tells us that the Ark be made of wood and be coated inside and out - "mibayis umichutz" - with gold. Rashi explains from the Yerushalmi in Shekalim that Bezalel made three arks, two of gold and one of wood. He put the wooden ark in the larger gold one and then the smaller gold one inside the wood one and then coated the top of it. If such was the order, asks the GR"A, then why does the pasuk say "mibayis umichutz"? It should say "michutz umibayis" because the Ark was coated first on the outside and then on the inside. He answers that "mibayis umichutz" is not referring to the wood but rather to the gold. This to say that the larger golden ark coated the wood "with its inside" and the smaller golden ark coated the wood "with its outside". So instead of the pasuk telling us to coat the wood on its inside and its outside, it is in fact saying to coat the wood with the inside of the gold and with the outside of the gold.

And why did the Torah go out of its way to explain this process in such a strange manner? The GR"A explained that it was to express the following symbolism. (This is where it gets deep.) The wood refers to man as the pasuk says (20:19) "Ki haAdam eitz hasadeh" and the two coatings of gold refer to the two portions of Torah that must envelop man, the "niglé," the revealed portions, and the "nistar," the hidden. Torah is compared to gold in Tehillim (19:11) "hanechemadim mizahav". The Torah is telling us that as far as the niglé, represented by the outer coating of gold, is concerned, one has the ability to reach the deepest depths of this chelek haTorah. This is demonstrated by the fact that it is the inside of the gold that coats the wood. But in the nistar, symbolized by the inner gold, one may only reach the surface and may not be able to reach the full depth of the chelek hanistar, as it is only the outside of this layer of gold that coats the wood. Following this explanation, the GR"A refused to explain that particular passage in Zohar to R' Chaim.

One issue I have with the above: I looked up that particular Yerushalmi referenced by Rashi and the order is actually the other way around that the inner layer of gold was first placed in the wooden ark and then they were placed in the larger layer of gold. According to this, the order of the pasuk is fine the way it is. Perhaps Rashi had a different "girsa" in the Yerushalmi for in Yoma 72b Rashi explains this process in the same way he does here in Parshas Terumah.

Have a good Shabbos.

Eliezer Bulka
WeeklyShtikle@weeklyshtikle.com

Shtikle Blog Weekly Roundup:
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