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hard labor

Why were three specific utensils that were used in the Holy Temple singled out for a very difficult, tedious task? What do they represent?

This week’s Torah portion is “Beha’alotcha” (Numbers 8:1 – 12:17), and in it we read about the special trumpets that were used in the Holy Temple for various purposes.

The trumpets were one of three utensils in the Holy Temple that had to be made entirely out of a solid block of gold. It was not permitted to make the different components separately and then combine them into one unit. They had to be made “the hard way.”

There were two other utensils that also had this mysterious requirement to be made from to be fully fashioned from a single block of gold: the Cherubim, those angel-like statues with children’s faces that were place on the Holy Ark, and the Menorah, the seven-branched candelabra that is now the emblem of the State of Israel.

Making a Menorah out of a single block of gold must have been the most difficult challenge. Can you imagine having to make a Menorah, complete with its seven branches, from a single block of gold, with no option whatsoever to make the task easier?

The question is asked: Why were these three utensils singled out for such a complicated, tedious task?

It is explained that they symbolize three important tasks in everyday life for which there are no shortcuts. They can be accomplished only through hard work and determination.

The Menorah represents the Torah – and Torah study. There are no shortcuts to becoming a Torah scholar. It takes hard work. Page by page. Book by book. Day after day. Review, review, review.

The trumpets represent leadership. It’s not easy to be a leader, especially in the Jewish community. (Just ask Moses!) To be a good leader takes hard work and patience.

Finally, the Cherubim, with their child-like faces, represent parenting and raising children. Needless to say, there are no shortcuts to raising children. Every day, for two-to-three decades, parents have to deal with a myriad of issues concerning their children, including the teenage years. Parenting can only be done the hard way.

And there you have it. Three utensils from the Holy Temple that had to be made ‘the hard way’ symbolize three accomplishments in life that can also only be achieved ‘the hard way.’

By: Rabbi Ari Enkin, Rabbinic Director, United with Israel

For more insights by Rabbi Enkin on this week’s Torah portion, click on the links below.




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