by the Reisha Rav, HaGoan Rav Aaron Levine TZ"L
Elucidated and Adapted by Efraim Levine
in Honor of Yosef Chaim and Ni'eema Levine
on the Birth of Their Daughter
a Fifth Generation Grandchild of the Reisha Rav
To Dedicate Please Contact Hadrash Ve-Haiyun
At that time Hashem said to me Carve
out for yourself two tablets like the first ones and ascend to Me
to the mountain; and make for yourself a wooden Ark.
The commentators note that we only find a command to build an ark in connection with the second set of loochos. The posuk emphasizes this point with the words at that time, i.e., at the time of the giving of the second set of loochos, to the exclusion of the time of the giving of the first set of loochos. This implies that for the first set of loochos there would have been no need for an ark. The obvious question is why? The Soforno answers that before the shattering of the first set of loochos the Jewish people were on an exalted level of spirituality. At that time it was Hashems intent that the loochos be visible to all. This would be symbolic of having the holiness of Torah, encapsulated by the loochos, to be visible to everyone rather then be confined within an Aron. However, in the aftermath of the sin of the golden calf the spiritual level of Klall Yisroel was significantly diminished. They were no longer worthy of having this holiness openly visible and there was a need to contain it with an ark.
Perhaps we can give a similar but alternative interpretation. Before the shattering of the loochos every human being, Jew and non-Jew alike, appreciated the value and beauty of Torah. Indeed when Hashem gave the fist set of loochos the entire world shuddered in silence, not a sound could be heard from all the nations. Even they understood the value of what they had lost out on. This is symbolic of loochos without an ark. However, with the sin of the golden calf the value of Torah was lost to the outsiders. The Torah was now only found within the ark. On a symbolic level it was of it only being appreciated by the insiders. Indeed, this was how the second set of loochos were given, in the middle of the night with a private audience of Moshe alone. At this point the gentile world lost their appreciation for Torah even to point of ridiculing us as we have experienced throughout our history. Going a step further, Even among Jews themselves only those who diligently toil in the study and performance of Torah can truly appreciate the true value of Torah. The Gemara (Pesachim 42b) relates that Rabbi Akiva, the prince of Torah himself, said When I was an Am Haaretz If I would see a talmud chacham I would bite him like a donkey. The hatred of the unlearned individual for a Torah scholar knows no bounds. Unfortunately, this is an outgrowth of the sin of the golden calf. In consequence of this sin the holiness of the Torah captured within the loochos moved from public display to concealment.
The message here is that in our time, for one to truly appreciate his heritage, one must be an insider both qualitatively and quantitatively. Torah is not a spectator sport. Appreciation can only come through participation not observation.
Now let us go a step further. One of the most holy and esoteric appurtenances in the Mishkan and Beis Hamikdash was the kruvim. The commentators explain that the divine presence hovered above the kruvim. The posukim (Shemos 25:20-21) clearly informs us that the kruvim should be placed above of the Aron. The posukim thus convey that the kruvim are related and associated exclusively with the Aron Hakodesh. This is consistent with the aforementioned idea that the divine presence after the sin was confined to the symbolic inside. But now let us ask: what would have been had Klall Yisroel not sinned with the golden calf? Then, there would only have been the first set of loochos, i.e., the loochos without the Aron. Where then would the kruvim stand?
Perhaps we may answer this with an observation of the first Beis Hamikdash. The posukim in Melachim (Melachim I 6:23) relate that when Shlomo Hamelech built the First Beis Hamikdash he added two stand alone kruvim. These kruvim were in addition to the kruvim that rested above the Aron. The commentators are deeply perplexed as to exactly why Shlomo Hamelech, the wisest of all men, was compelled to do this. Seemingly, there is no hint of this in the Torah.
With the above idea, perhaps we can get a glimpse into his reasoning. The posuk tells us about the time of Shlomo.
And For all the days of Shlomo, Yehudah and
Yisroel dwelt with security, each man beneath his grape vine and
beneath his fig tree; from Dan to bear Sheva
(Melachim I 5:5).
The era of Shlomo Hamelech was the best in our history. A taste of what will be in the times of Moshiach. It was a time when the Jewish people were role models for the world. All saw and appreciated the beauty of Torah. It was a time that the holiness of Torah and divine presence were no longer confined to the insiders but was readily apparent even to the outsiders. The kruvim no longer had to hover only on the ark but could stand-alone and spread their wings across the entire chamber, symbolic of spreading the Divine Presence across the world. Shlomo Hamelech was intimating that the Jewish people had returned to the pristine spiritual state of the first loochos. As explained above, when the shattered first loochos reconstitute then the kruvim are not confined to the Aron but may spread the divine presence throughout the world.
May we merit to see the days of the stand-alone kruvim.