The construction of the Aron Hakodesh in the Mishkan differed from every other vessel in the Mishkan in that it was actually made by the Tzibbur, in contrast to the others which was made only one individual. The Medrash says (33,3) why does the Torah say by the making of the other vessels the Torah writes ועשית and you should make in the singular,  and by the Aron, it states ועשו ארון in the plural form? Rav Yehudah answers, Hashem said that everyone should come and occupy themselves with its construction and thereby merit to Torah. For the Aron contained the Luchos Habris, the fundamentals of the Torah which belongs to all Yisrael as it says .מורשה קהילת יעקב 

Even though all the other vessels in the Mishkan were also part of the entire Tzibbur, Moshe to whom the construction of the Mishkan was designated served as their shliach and therefore warrants the usage of a singular lashon of ועשית. This was in contrast to the building of the Aron which necessitated the active participation of all Yisrael and that is why Moshe was commanded with the lashon of ועשו. But how can all Yisrael actively participate in the building of a box with the mere measurements of two and one-half cubits in length and one and a half cubits in width? The Ramban (25,10) answers that they achieved their part in the Aron’s construction by having kavanah and intention with the building of it. Only by directing their thoughts to the building of the Aron, did Klal Yisrael become partners in the construction of the Aron and have a portion in the Torah which was placed inside.

There cannot be a display of the Written Torah in the MIshkan without the Oral Torah as well, since it is only through the Torah Sh’beal Peh that we interpret the meaning of the Torah Sh’Bichtav. We can say the allusion of the Oral Law is in the middle container of the AronChazal say (Yuma 72b) that the Aron contained three boxes. An outside and inner box made of gold, and a middle box made of wood. The wood symbolizes the Oral Law for wood is compared to a person as the passuk says (Devarim 20,19)  כי האדם עץ השדה and therefore it represents the Talmidai Chachamim who interpret the Torah. The wooden box of the Aron is placed inside the gold container which symbolizes the Written Law. The word for gold is זהב which is broken into two words זה הב this is given. The Written Law is totally given with an exact number of words and letters and nothing can be added or detracted from it. The gematriah of הב is seven hinting to the opinion that there are seven portions of the Torah not five. The Written Law is stated in the words ונתן לנו תורת אמת He gave to us a true Torah. The wooden box which represents the Oral Law lies concealed inside the gold, for like the heart of man, the Oral Law is to remain concealed yet it serves as the heartbeat of the Torah. For just as the physical Luchos contain the writing of the Written Law, so too the heart contains the writing of the Oral Law as the passuk says כתבם על לוח לבך write them on the Tablet of your heart. The Oral Law is וחיי עולם נטע בתוכינו it is left up to Man’s interpretation.

Chazal say (Yuma 21) that the reality of the Aron was miraculous by the fact that it did not take up any physical space as if it possessed a supernatural dimension. How did this come about? The Sfas Emes says that after everyone brought their donations for the building of the Mishkan there was leftover material. This leftover material did not become a reality in the building of the Mishkan. However, because of Am Yisrael’s generous outpouring of desire to build the Mishkan, they merited that the Aron’s dimensions also took on a similar non-reality. We can add to this interpretation and say that the supernatural characteristic that the Aron does not share being part of the limited and restraining natural measurements conveys that the Aron symbolizes also the Sh’Beaal Peh which reaches beyond physical dimensions as Chazal say, it is רחבה מני ים  wider that the sea and there is no end to its depth and secrets. The similar thought is in Tehillim (119,96) רחבה מצוותיך מאד .

This interpretation can be learned from the gemarah it is derived from, אמר ר’ לוי מסורת בידינו מאבותינו מקום ארון אינו מן המידה זה This insight that the Aronsurpasses physical dimensions was transmitted from generation to generation from our fathers. Why was it so important for Rav Levi to tell us that this quality of the Aron was transmitted as Torah Sh’Beal Peh. The answer is that this characteristic of the Aron specifically describes the Torah Sh’Beal Peh so Rav Levi described its origin in the Torah Sh’Beal Peh.

In the story of Purim, there existed a life threatening crisis to Klal Yisrael which was a decree of total annihilation. This included every single Yid. It was through their fasting, teshuva, and davening that their evil decree was uprooted and the Yom Tov of Purim came about. Because of their salvation, they accepted the Oral Law out of love. By Matan Torah they were forced into its acceptance with Hashem’s suspending Har Sinai above their heads (Medrash Tanchuma Noach).  However, being witness to their miraculous redemption by the hands of Hashem, they reaccepted the Oral Law with joy and renewed dedication. Just as by the making of the Aron for the Mishkan Hashem wanted all Yisrael to participate with the construction of the Aron which housed the Torah, so too with the Torah Sh’Beal Peh, Hashem wanted all of Yisrael to participate in the acceptance of the Oral Torah. This could only be accomplished when all Yisrael would fall under the danger of being annihilated and then to be miraculously saved thereby everyone accepting the Torah of love of Hashem. Just as in the building of the Aron for the Mishkan including participation from all Yisrael through the kavannah of the heart and mind, so too the participation of all Klal Yisrael in the acceptance of Torah Sh’Beal Peh was through the heart and minds of Klal Yisrael all over the world.

As we explained above the Torah Sh’Beal Peh are the Luchos that is the heart of the Yid. Therefore the Aron of the Torah Sh’Beal Peh is the body of the Yid. The body of the Yid is not the same as the gentile’s. Chazal tell us that the 248 mitzvos in the Torah correspond to the 248 limbs in the body. This shows that our bodies are tuned to different circuits that the goy’s. This that every Yid has Bris Milah sealed on his flesh conveys this idea even further. The mitzvah of becoming intoxicated on Purim further advances this concept. Losing one’s saichel usual trashes the body as well. This is not the case with Torah Jews. Those who witnessed Talmedai Chacahmim become drunk on Purim realized that without the saichel of their heads nevertheless there still remains even stronger the saichel of their hearts ובלבבו יבין. Their inner wisdom like a bursting geyser pours forth once a year, as we witness Torah Sh’Beal Peh in its fullest glory, beauty, and the revelation of its most precious and deepest secrets. Purim is the time to build our Aron for the Torah Sh’Be’al Peh and reconnect to the Luchos that lie within us.

Rav Brazil
Gut Shabbos