This page presents insights by Rabbi Tuvia Bolton on the weekly Torah portion.
The latest article is posted here once a week. You can search the archive for past articles.
Parshat Nitzavim-Vayelech (5769)
Near the end of this week's double Torah portion, G-d tells Moses to write a Torah scroll and says "Now take this Torah scroll and put it in the side of the ark of the covenant of G-d" (31:26).
The ark spoken of is the golden-plated box in the Holy of Holies that contained the Tablets that had the Ten Commandments carved into them.
The Talmud (Baba Batra 14a) brings an argument if this scroll was to be put IN the ark or just by its SIDE, but according to all opinions this written Torah Scroll was in the Holy of Holies together with the carved tablets.
At first glance this is not understood.
The connection between the Holy of Holies and the carved Tablets is easily understood. The Holy of Holies was a miraculous place of total UNITY; 'above' the laws and limitations of place and time. (For instance, the ark was 2 1/2 amot wide, but when put in the Holy of Holies, which was 10 amot wide, there was five amot from each of its ends to the walls; so it seemingly wasn't there).
Similarly the Tablets were miraculous. The circular letters Mem and Samech defied the law of gravity, all the letters could be read from both sides of the Tablet and, most important, because they were carved out, the letters were UNITED with the stone. So the tablets belonged in the Holy of Holies.
Not so the Torah scroll. Not only was there nothing miraculous about it, butits letters were ink; separate and additional to the parchment signifying DIVISION not unity.
If so why was the scroll in the Holy of Holies?
To understand this, here are several stories.
Rabbi Pinchus ben Yair was a holy Torah scholar (Tana) that lived in Israel just after the destruction of the Second Temple some 1,900 years ago. Besides being a Tzadik, totally devoted to G-d as were all of the scholars of that time (the 'least' of which had the ability to raise the dead), he was also known as a miracle worker.
He oncearrived in a town and was besieged by the residents with a desperate request for help; they were plagued by mice. Hundreds of thousands of mice were devouring all their produce and no place was safe. They tried every trick possible; exterminators, fortified their storehouses with thick walls, set traps, put out poison but nothing worked.
Rabbi Pinchus heard the problem, walked to the center of town where there was a large open square that served as a market several times a week and called out to the mice.
Suddenly women began screaming and almost everyone began evacuating as streams of mice began appearing from every direction. In just moments Rabbi Pinchus was standing in the middle of a bubbling sea of squeaking, jumping rodents that seemed to be telling him something.
He listened intently, shook his head understandingly and turned to a few of the townspeople standing in the distance that had been brave, or curious, enough to stay and shouted. "Do you know what the mice are saying?"
"No!" They shouted back to him. "Just tell them to go away!!"
"The mice are saying that you don't give 'Maaser' (tithes for the Levites) from your produce and that is why they are devouring it. Begin giving proper tithes and they will leave you alone."
Immediately they swore to tell everyone else to give Maaser and they miraculously never again suffered from mice. (D'mai Yerushalmi 1:3)
Another time, perhaps because of this first story, he received an invitation from the king of Arabia to come quickly.
This king had acquired a large precious diamond and was sitting on his throne holding it up in the sunlight to watch it glisten and glimmer, when somehow it slipped out of his hand to the floor. But just as he bent down to pick it up, a large rat jumped out from somewhere, swallowed it and disappeared into an obscure hole in the floor.
The king was beside himself; the stone was lost! It was a disgrace and a huge loss. He called his advisors, priests and holy men but they could do nothing except recommend Rabbi Pinchus.
When Rabbi Pinchus arrived he sympathized with the king but said he had no idea why he had been invited.
The king answered, "Because I heard that you do miracles."
"Miracles?" he replied. "G-d does miracles. I'm just a regular Jew. Why call me?"
"Because I understand that G-d does miracles through you. Please…" The king pleaded. "Do what you can!"
Rabbi Pinchus told the king to empty out the throne room and when they were alone he summoned all the rats in the palace and told them to stand still for inspection.
Sure enough one rat had a pointed bump on its back! The diamond defied the rodent's digestive process and made a protrusion that was noticeable from the outside. He commanded the rat to spit it out, which the rat promptly did, and the King of Arabia became a friend of the Jews and a believer in the G-d of Israel. (ibid 1:13)
The last story happened much more recently. A married Israeli couple by the name of Mr. and Mrs. Sandroi, although not Chabad Chassidim, had a very close connection with Chabad and with the Rebbe.
They married only after writing to the Rebbe and receiving his blessing and every time they had a problem they wrote. After several years without children Mrs. Sandroi finally became pregnant. Her joy and gratitude to G-d were unlimited, but so was her pain.
She had unbearable headaches and nausea to the point that she had to be hospitalized on and off from almost the beginning of the pregnancy. Her husband wrote letter after letter to the Rebbe and always received the same answer 'Blessings for an easy successful birth, check Tefillin and Mezuzot'. Which Sandroi faithfully did but each time everything he handed in to be checked was found to be 'Kosher'.
Then came the Lebanon war in 1982. Sandroi was drafted into the air force and stuck in a base with no possibility of receiving or making calls. But surprisingly a week or two later his wife's pains suddenly disappeared.
Sandroi told his superiors that his wife was expected to give birth in a few weeks and was granted a few hours' leave to visit her. His first words as he entered the door were "The pains went away, right?"
"Yes!" She answered "How did you know? They disappeared over a week ago!"
He hadn't exactly been doing what the Rebbe said. He did give the Mezuzot to be checked but he never gave in his Tefillin; he figured that because they were almost brand new they MUST be kosher.
But after he got drafted he had this intuition that maybe he should have them checked also and, lo and behold, when he did he discovered that they were totally posul (unfit)! The word Bincha (your son) was written improperly in two different places!
He had the parchments replaced; his wife's pains stopped and the birth went as smoothly as the Rebbe said it would. It was a boy! Mazal Tov!
But their problems weren't over.
The baby had serious digestive problems. At the age of five he began vomiting accompanied by such severe stomach pains that he could not function. His parents took him the best doctors in Israel and spared no money or time, but all the tests, x-rays and CTs showed nothing.
Again Mr. Sandroi wrote to the Rebbe and in a very short time he received a reply via fax; "Be more careful with the level of Kashrut in food."
Although they were observant Jews they took the Rebbe's advice and immediately called Rabbi Mendel Glukowski, the Chabad Rabbi of Rechovot and asked him to instruct them and promised to do everything he ordered.
As soon as they began changing the diet their son began feeling much better and before long his gastronomic problems totally disappeared.
In fact even today, after the boy has grown and is married with children of his own, whenever he is a bit lax in the kashrut of what he eats, he is immediately beset with the same terrible stomach pains that he had as a child. (HaGeula #479)
This answers our question; why was the scroll in the Holy of Holies.
G-d does not want to be revealed only in the Holy of Holies; rather He wants every detail of creation, even the most seemingly meaningless, to 'announce' that there is a Creator.
And that is why Pinchus ben Yair used mice and the Rebbe used food to reveal the greatness, closeness and goodness of HaShem in EVERY detail of creation.
That is why the written scroll was in the Holy of Holies.
Because, unlike the holy Tablets that HAD to be in a holy place, the written scroll which bordered on the mundane could serve as a medium to bring G-dliness in everything mundane; the entire world.
This is a lesson to us for the upcoming 'High' Holidays. Namely, that we must bring this 'High'; the closeness of G-d we experience on Rosh HaShanna and Yom Kippur, into every day of the year and every moment of our lives.
This, explains Maimonides in his Laws of Kings (Chap. 12), will be accomplished by Moshiach. But meanwhile we have the writings of Chassidut to inspire us to do everything possible to bring a happy, healthy, successful, joyous, sweet holy new year in EVERY detail with... Moshiach NOW!
Copyright © 1999-2017 Rabbi Tuvia Bolton. All rights reserved. No unauthorized reproduction or copying of this material shall occur without prior permission.