By R’ Mordechai Young
I remember going to shul on Shavuos night for part of the learning when I was a child. What I remember most vividly were all the delicious snacks—especially the Carvel flying saucers (those delightful ice-cream cookie sandwiches). But the Torah learning itself offers the unsurpassed sweetness of connection.
In this week’s parashah, Terumah, the building of the Mishkan and its vessels are discussed. The mefarshim point out that it states “V’asisa, you shall make,” in the singular, in most of the pesukim. When it comes to the pasuk about the Aron, which holds the Luchos, the Torah, it states “V’asu, they shall make,” which is plural, referring to the whole nation. Why is the language different when referring to the Aron? The mefarshim answer that the Aron represents Torah, and the use of the plural is teaching us that everyone has a connection to Torah. Each and every one of us has his or her portion and can become great in Torah—some more so and some less, but everyone can achieve the keser, the crown, of Torah.
Before the Torah mentions the Aron, it states, “V’asu Li mikdash, make for Me a mikdash.” This pasuk is also in the plural form. The mikdash represents our connection to Hashem. We could say the Torah is hinting that this connection is for everyone; we can all get close to Hashem. The pasuk continues: “V’shachanti b’socham, and I will dwell in them.”
The mefarshim ask: shouldn’t it say “b’socho, in it,” in singular form? One answer is that Hashem is saying, “I will dwell in the heart of each and every one of you.”
So, regarding our connection to Hashem we see two hints that we are all connected. Why is it that by the Aron—the Torah—there was one hint, but here there are two?
I think a person can learn and then realize he is connected to Torah. But connecting to Hashem, Whom we don’t see, feel, etc., is much harder. Hashem hides Himself so well that it is easy to “forget” Hashem, so to speak. A person can feel that only a tzaddik can connect to Hashem. So, we need an extra reminder that we can all connect and are all invited by Hashem to have that connection.
One way to connect is to bring Hashem into our lives. As the Chazon Ish taught, even when you go to buy shoes, make a prayer. Ask Hashem for help to find the right pair, at the right price, etc. When you find the pair and it’s on sale you feel connected to Hashem. Hashem was there with you, as if He took you to the shoe store, and you end up thanking Him for that.
Another way to connect is by learning and reviewing Torah. After mentioning that we all should build a mikdash, the pasuk states that we all can build the Aron, showing us that a derech to connect to Hashem is to learn His Torah.
In Pirkei Avos (Perek 4, Mishnah 17), Rebbe Shimon states that there are three crowns: the crown of Torah, the crown of kehunah, and the crown of kingship. Why is there no crown for being close and connected to our King? I think the answer can be found at the end of the Mishnah which mentions that the crown of a “shem tov,” a good name, surpasses them all. In Perek 4, Mishnah 13, it states that if the spirit of one’s fellow is pleased with him, then the spirit of the Omnipresent is pleased with him. Rashi teaches that a person beloved on earth is certainly beloved in Heaven. So we could say that the crown of a good name is really a crown of connecting to Hashem.
Let’s all reach out to Hashem and connect to Hashem by increasingly bringing Him into our lives.
R’ Mordechai Young is a remedial rebbe and tutor. He can be reached for comments at email@example.com” \t “_blank” firstname.lastname@example.org.