This week’s Torah portion is B’halotcha (Numbers 8:1-12:16), where we read about the Menora, the consecration of the Levites, the “Second” Passover for those who missed the first (see, it’s never too late!), the cloud and fire that led the Jewish people in the desert, and much more. Truly an action-packed portion! Be sure to read it.
Another interesting item in this week’s reading besides the universally known Menora is the hatzotzrot (don’t be scared to try and pronounce that!) – two silver ritual trumpets that were used in a number of ways. They were sounded in order to inform everyone to gather together or to pack up and move to their next station, to announce the holidays or to prepare the people for war.
The Torah states, regarding the manufacture of the hatzotzrot: “You shall make them miksha”. Miksha implies that an item must be carved out from a single block. Such items could not be made in pieces and then soldered or otherwise put together. Making something via miksha required talent and patience. In this case, the trumpets had to be fashioned out of a single block of silver.
There were two other items in the Mishkan (Tabernacle) that had the miksha requirement: the Menora and the Cherubim.
What is it about these three items that they had to be fashioned from a single block?
Perhaps the answer is that carving something complex and detailed out of a single block is quite difficult, but ultimately it is far more solid and durable.
The Menora was the symbol of Torah. Just like there are no shortcuts when carving something out of a single block, there are no shortcuts in the quest for Torah knowledge. In order to properly become immersed, inspired and affected by Torah, one must delve into it the old-fashioned way: Hit the books! (Lectures and on-line study are good too!)
The silver trumpets represented leadership, command, and authority. They had to be miksha in order to teach us that a good leader must be solid, unbreakable, fearless and wholesome. A leader must be able to navigate the stormy waters that may come his way. Something that is made “piecemeal” will not last if the storm gets too rough.
Living Torah: The Next Generation
Finally, the Cherubim (and this one is my favorite) represented children, the next generation – continuity. Indeed, the faces of the Cherubim were fashioned to resemble that of a child. It is not easy to raise children. A good parent sometimes has to be a “solid block” when it comes to proper education. Our children may want to view entertainment, go places or associate with people that we know are wrong for them. Don’t give in! Miksha! Stay firm, stay solid. As parents we must ensure that our children are raised in a proper way. Even if they are unhappy with our decisions and have a tantrum – don’t give in if you know that saying “no” is better for them. Those inoculation and vaccines needles may hurt, but we would never think of foregoing them just because our children do not what them or they might cry! We know that it is ultimately for their own good. Pain or no pain…they get their shots!
Trumpets, Menorah and Cherubim: Leadership, Torah, and Children. There are some things in life that are simply non-negotiable.