B’ha’alotcha 5760

Tora - Torah

Parshat Baha'alotcha Sivan 21, 5760 June 24, 2000

Tora Dojo Teachers and Parents: If you share and discuss the Tora-Torah with younger students, tell it in your own words at their comprehension level rather than try to read it to them or have them read it.

Every Shabbat we sing “va’y’hi binso’a ha’aron” as the ark is opened. I can’t remember how many years as a child I just assumed that the words meant, “when the ark was opened”! One year I realized they meant, “when the ark traveled” and it referred to the moving of the ark in the desert when the Israelites traveled.

“When the Ark traveled, Moses said: ‘Arise God! Scatter your enemies, and let those who hate you flee from in front of you. And when the Ark rested, he would say ‘Return God the myriad of thousands of Israel!’” (Numbers 10:35-36)

In recent years I discovered a whole new meaning beneath and between the words. Before I begin my own personal digging I want to look at a more classical explanation of the words.

These two sentences in our Parsha are set apart from the verses both before and after by the inverted letter nun in Hebrew. Not only do they seem somewhat out of context where they are, but they almost look like they have parentheses around them.

The Talmud and Midrash explain that the sentences are in fact out of place, but Rabbi Shimon ben Gamliel taught: “In the future this section will be removed from here and written in its proper place.” (Shabbat 116a)

More remarkable than that, these two sentences (only 85 words!) are one whole book of the Torah of which there are seven in total! What are they? The Midrash explains that there are, indeed, seven books: 1) Genesis (Bereshit) 2) Exodus (Shmot) 3) Leviticus (Vayikra) 4) Numbers (Bamidbar in Hebrew) up to but not including these two verses 5) These two verses 6) The rest of Numbers (Bamidbar) 7) Deuteronomy (Devarim).

Since we call the five books of Moshe the Chumash (from the Hebrew word chamesh or five), we must ask the meaning behind this strange comment.

It seems that this was the perfect place in the sequence of events in the desert for the Jewish conquest of Israel to begin. Everything was ready and Moshe was ready to go. But the people were not ready because of their intrigues and sins and so that peaceful conquest of the land never happened. These verses represent the beginning and end of the unwritten book of redemption and ultimate destiny of the Jewish people that never happened. Moshe was ready to go into the land but couldn’t. His dream didn’t come true. But someday we will be ready to begin an era of peaceful living in the land and the whole world will be ready.

And, by the way, there is a lot of discussion on why the inverted letter nun was used. My favorite is the explanation brought by Meam Loez, that the nuns represent the Jews turning their backs on Hashem and on their original promise of na’a’seh v’nishma (“all that Hashem has said we will do and we will listen” (Exodus 24:7)

Let me offer a Jewish peaceful warrior’s version of these two verses.

In my version, we are each an ‘aron’ or ark within which a divine spark of Hashem resides. Our will to act is like Moshe leading us along our correct path. When the material side of life attacks, we must know how to defend ourselves. Sometimes, though, our material view of the world will override that wise voice and lead us astray. We may forget our true connections to something higher. We need to remember. We need to spend time in silent thought to be sure we know our divine center and try to act accordingly.

So we could read these two verses as a daily prayer for the Godwrestler.

When the Ark traveled      When we go about our day to day lives of action

Moses said:                        our inner voice says to us

‘Arise God!                          Remember who you are, a divine spark in a material body.

Scatter your enemies, and let those who hate you flee from in front of you.

                                    Deal with these challenges of life from that divine center.

And when the Ark rested, Be sure each day to find the time to sit and meditate;

he would say      Listen to the inner voice of Moshe within you

Return God   Return to your divine center and from there battle as a Yisrael, a Jewish peaceful  warrior

the myriad   and fight the battles (rivivot also can mean battles and arguments)

of the thousands of Israel.    as a master Godwrestler. (elef means a thousand; aluf means master or leader)

So with a little digging under the obvious meaning, a prayer that the greatest Godwrestler of all time, Moshe, made:

When my body rises, may the divine spark within me rise also. May my external warrior skills cause my enemies to scatter. When I sit in quiet contemplation, may Hashem reside within me, and help me win the sort of inner battles that a master Godwrestler fights: the desire to draw close to Hashem by removing all the fear and doubt that prevent me from drawing close to Him.

"Tora-Torah" is a weekly column on Parshat Hashavua with insights into the inner aspects of the Jewish martial arts as founded and taught by Grand Master H. I. Sober in the International Tora Dojo Martial Arts Association. The copyrighted 'Tora tiger' logo is used with permission of Prof. H. I. Sober.

"Tora-Torah" is written or edited by Michael Andron, PhD. Lao Shih, a Seventh Degree Black Belt in the Tora Dojo Association. He has been teaching Grand Master Sober's system for over 30 years.

Note that the Tora Dojo comments are highlighted in a different color. This should help teachers in their sharing Tora-Torah with younger students at their level of comprehension. If any of you would like to contribute some "Torah" from time to time, send your suggestions (keep 'em short and ... in by Sunday, please) to michael@kodesh.org. I'll try to keep it simple and with a good Tora Dojo lesson as well.

"Tora-Torah" is published by Kodesh, Inc. Kodesh is a non-profit organization devoted to personal growth, mind-body effectiveness training, spiritual awareness. It offers programs to help the student "alter the state of his/her consciousness" through education, experience and joyful celebration.

© 2000 Michael Andron - All rights reserved.
email: michael@kodesh.org