By Rabbi Heshy Grossman
"Our Rabbis taught: 'VaYehi BiNesoa HaAron, VaYomer Moshe' - G-d marked
this Parsha above and below, saying that this is not its proper place."
"Rebbi said: It is not for this, but rather, because this Sefer is
considered a book unto itself." (Shabbos 115b)
The two verses describing the travels of the Aron Kodesh are delineated
with two reverse 'Nun's, indicating that this section stands on its own
merit, separate and distinct from the rest of Sefer BaMidbar.
The use of the letter 'Nun' is not coincidental, and in these two marks lie
the foundation of an entire Sefer Torah, one that contains the same
sanctity as the complete five books.
In our shiur this week, we will learn the secret of this letter and the
Parsha it encompasses, and why it stands in the middle of the alphabet, the
basis of our world.
The creation of Olam HaZeh is only one part of a process of Divine
revelation, with every aspect of life contributing to the unfolding of
G-d's plan. Ironically, this revelation can be achieved only by G-d
concealing His true essence, for full disclosure of the truth would
overpower and obliterate everything else.
The real order of life exists in a higher dimension, while the worldly
arrangement that we know of is only an alternative existence, one that
hides HaKadosh Baruch Hu. But at the same time, this world also provides an
opportunity for the righteous man to discover the truth, enabling the
freedom of choice that is man's only distinction.
The Torah that we know of is our guide to truth, directing man in this
world. But, this too, is only one minute aspect of the complete Torah, for
the depths of Torah have a scope far greater and deeper than anything we
are conscious of.
"And from where is Chachmah to be found, and where is the place of Binah.
No man knows its value, nor can it be found in the land of the living."
Even the prophets cannot know the true source of Torah and wisdom, for the
secrets of existence are by definition beyond our own world.
This is the 'Sha'ar HaNun' - the fiftieth gate - an aspect of Torah hidden
even to Moshe Rabbeinu. While our world revolves around forty-nine varied
traits, the axis of all existence is the point at its center, the invisible
middle that never moves.
Hence, the sanctity associated with the number fifty, as in the jubilee
year, or the fiftieth day of Sefiras HaOmer, one that is itself not
counted, but is nevertheless approached with awe and anticipation. And on
this very day, the Torah is given, as Klal Yisrael brings this higher
existence down to earth.
For these reasons, the 'Nun' rests squarely in the middle of the alphabet,
with thirteen letters on either side. As in every gateway, the center point
between two dimensions serves as a gallery for each side, and the letter
'Nun' alludes to that higher order that lies beyond our grasp.
Were this order known to all, mankind would be overwhelmed by the
brilliance of the Divine, and cease to exist as an independent entity. In a
sense, the Torah that we have in our own hands is written in a different
sequence than the Torah in heaven, one that is inappropriate for mortal man.
It is this idea that is alluded to by the Parsha of 'VaYehi BiNesoa' - the
section of the Torah that is moved from its proper place. Our very world
has been moved from its place, and the Parsha of the Aron will lead us on
the road back home.
Let us explain.
The juxtaposition of the Parsha of the Aron in this precise location is to
serve as a barrier and separation between two distinct calamities that
changed Jewish life forever. On the one hand, Klal Yisrael leaves Har
Sinai, removed form the exalted levels that had been perceived while
standing under the mountain of G-d. And subsequently, they begin their
complaints of life in the desert, uncommitted to the faith and trust
necessary for the travels in the Midbar.
This before and after sequence defines the two separate books of BaMidbar.
On the one hand is Klal Yisrael in its ideal state, headed directly to the
promised land. Afterwards, Klal Yisrael is struck by one disaster after
there other, and their entry into Israel is delayed till the next
generation. Even after they finally arrive, these sins of the desert assure
that their stay is only temporary, and they are destined to travel 'to the
desert of the nations' for a long and bitter exile.
'VaYehi BiNesoa' is right in between, the bridge that will lead them back
to the other side, connecting them still to the world they once knew.
In a world where Klal Yisrael is faithful to G-d's command, serving as
trustworthy witness to the Divine purpose of creation, G-d's plan is
evident and clear, and directly at hand.
But, when the Jewish people sin, and the purpose of creation is clouded and
dim, the word of G-d is distant and removed, unfathomable to the observer
of world events.
Here we learn this: Even in this state of disrepair, the Aron travels with
The travels of the Jewish people symbolize the unfolding of Hashem's goal
for creation, the slow and steady disclosure of all that He wishes to
reveal. Were Klal Yisrael to have remained in the state of purity acquired
at Sinai, this process would be completed hastily, with no obstacles
delaying the merger of this world with the next.
But, the sins of the desert detours all of life, and Klal Yisrael must muck
their way through the mud, struggling to bring the word of G-d to light.
And still, the Aron, and the presence of G-d it contains, remains with them
Far from its place, and certainly far from order, the Divine plan is
manifest in the trials and tribulations of each generation, actualized by
the Jewish people everywhere they turn.
Ya'akov has two names. His higher name -Yisrael - is the appellation he
receives after the struggle with evil. This is the straight and honest path
of Yeshurun, revealed after he has vanquished the angel of darkness.
But the name Ya'akov hints of something else - the dark and lower part of
life, the heel of existence, far removed from the head that contains the
thought and plan for creation. Here too, Klal Yisrael will learn how to
survive, gaining the skills to overcome the treacheries and deception of
the nations that hope to divert them from their goal.
BeGimatria - "BiNesoa" equals "Ya'akov".
Out of order and out of place, the Jewish people find themselves despondent
and dislocated. But, they are the mirror image of the Divine presence, and
if they are disconsolate, they find solace in the Aron that has known no rest.
The Aron is anchored to the Kodesh HaKodashim, and though it has very
precise measures, it takes up no space. It represents the world in
microcosm, a world of limitations and defined dimensions, but one that
contains within it an allusion to a world beyond all limits, above time and
Though Klal Yisrael has wandered, straying from the road that is straight
and near, the Aron will restore them to their rightful spot, and heaven and
earth will meet one again.
The 'Nun' will turn around to its rightful position, restoring all of life
to the place where it is destined to be.
* * * * * *
"Come and see, these two 'Nunin' are the actual honor of Hashem, and the
basis of the world....and Hashem removed the nations of the world from the
grouping of these two 'Nunin'....and for these 'Nunin' the nations of the
world are always harassing the B'nai Yisrael...." (Zohar Chadash)
How can these two letters be the cause for centuries of anti-Semitism?
Klal Yisrael receives the Torah in the Midbar, where they discover their
natural habitat. Under Har Sinai they learn this: other than Torah -
nothing else exists.
But, when they subsequently sin, they lose their way, and G-d banishes them
to a different sort of desert.
"And that which comes to your mind, will never come about, your saying: 'we
will be like the nations, like the families of the lands, worshipping wood
and stone. As I live, said Hashem with a mighty hand, and an outstretched
arm, and with anger poured out, I will be king over you....."
"V'Heiveisi Eschem El Midbar Ha'Amim.... - and I will bring you to the
desert of the nations...." (Yechezkel 20:32-35)
Here in this desert, Klal Yisrael lives in an alternative existence. Still
removed from the rest of mankind, but forced to suffer through the long and
arduous process of a redemption that cannot be seen.
It is the hatred and enmity of the nations that reveals this truth, in
their own macabre manner. 'Life in the big city is not for you', they
shout, in varied different ways, and slowly the old and dusty truths are
once again revealed - Klal Yisrael has only one true home. Betwen the two
staves of the Aron, all Klal Yisrael sequesters, and there they read the
book of their own history, two short verses that contain all they need to
"VaYehi BiNesoa HaAron - VaYomer Moshe: 'Arise Hashem, and let your enemies
be scattered, let those who hate You flee from before You."
"And when it rested he would say: 'Return, Hashem to the myriad thousands
JerusalemViews, Copyright (c) 2000 by Rabbi Heshy Grossman and ProjectGenesis, Inc.