Join our weekly Peninim on the Torah list!

[et_bloom_inline optin_id="optin_1"]

“And they should spread a cloth entirely of turquoise wool over it, and adjust its staves.” (4:6)

Download PDF

The accepted translation for uhsc unau in this pasuk is “and adjust its staves.” The verb unau is usually translated as “and they shall place it,” which implies that the badim, staves/poles, would now be inserted in the rings of the Aron. This translation, however, is not consistent with the halacha, which commands that the badim of the Aron never be removed from their rings.  Consequently, we discern that the term unau refers to placing the badim upon the shoulders of the Leviim— or their adjustment within the rings of the Aron in order to facilitate the Leviim’s task of carrying it.

In the Talmud Yuma 72a, Tosfos makes a novel statement. They contend that there was actually another set of poles which fit into a second set of rings. Consequently, the first set of poles was inserted into four rings, never to be removed.  The second set of poles was removed when the Aron was stationary. This decision rendered by Tosfos must be comprehended from the perspective of practicality. Why would the Torah require a set of poles which was never used ? Secondly, why were the poles which were not  used never to be removed from the Aron ? Theoretically, the poles which served the function of providing access for the Aron’s being transported would be the ones to remain inserted within the rings.

This writer once heard an interesting explanation for this halacha. The “extra” badim suggests a valuable lesson.  The Levi or his present day “counterpart,” the ben Torah, must understand that one should not seek to lighten his Torah load. The extra badim convey a critical implication. Making use of these badim would enable four more Leviim to carry the Aron, making life easier for them. Nonetheless, the Aron was transported by only four Leviim.  Likewise, one who loves the Torah does not sense its weight upon his shoulders. Consequently, he does not seek methods for easing the yoke placed upon him. Carrying something or someone you love is not a burden; it is a privilege.

Another aspect of the badim presents a different perspective. Alongside the badim, which are “noticeable” as a result of their practical function, another set of badim exist which are hardly noticeable. These nevertheless serve an important and integral purpose.  In every endeavor there are those supporters who are concealed behind a cloak of anonymity. These people are no less important than the ones who maintain a high profile.  Indeed, without these quiet, inconspicuous “behind the scenes” people, the ones who are prominent would not succeed.  Similarly, this is the case with the Yissachar/Zevulun relationship. One brother, Yissachar, devoted all of his time to Torah, while Zevulun supported and sustained him.  Yissachar, who studied Torah publicly, was able to do so as a result of the unobtrusive efforts of Zevulun. This is an implication of the extra badim on the Aron.

It is notable that the badim, which represent the supporters and facilitators of Torah learning, are not to be removed. Why is this ?  The rationale behind this demand is simple: The supporters of Torah must be there even before it is apparent who are the actual students of Torah. It is incumbent upon the “invisible” benefactors and champions of Torah study to see to it that there are students who will study the Torah. Sometimes, as parents, they even have the obligation to raise these students from birth, nurturing their abilities, inspiring them with a love for Torah.  The badim which serve to carry the Aron were removable, since they were needed only at such times that the Aron was transported. The other set of badim were never to be removed, since they signified the foundation for and support of Torah study, a requirement which is as timeless as it is essential. These badim communicated the message of Torah transmission from generation to generation, an obligation which is everlasting and must remain uninterrupted if the chain of Torah transmission is to remain viable.