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Thursday
Sep262019

YOU DON'T COUNT!

“All a man’s provisions are allotted for him from Rosh HaShana until Yom HaKippurim” * The Aron did not occupy any space; its measure did not count. The funny thing is that the measurements of the Aron are very precise, 1.5 x 2.5 cubits – yet it took up no space?!

By Rabbi Boruch Merkur

I heard that as a child, Mendel Futerfas was playful and exuberant. He used to enjoy jumping from the back of one wagon to another as it would pass from the opposite direction. Concerned about the child’s reckless behavior, an elder Chassid reprimanded him, telling him that even if he is wagon-hopping savvy, he shouldn’t use up his merit in gaining protection from Above to save him.

Similarly, Yaakov Avinu says: “Katonti m’kol ha’chassadim, etc. – I am unworthy of all the kindness You have steadfastly shown Your servant” (B’Reishis 32:11). In standing up to Eisav, Yaakov was concerned that his merit had diminished from all the kindness he had received from G-d in Charan (Rashi).

***

During the Yomim Nora’im, the Days of Awe, we face judgement to determine all the material livelihood we shall merit throughout the entire year. This idea comes into play in the following law regarding expenditures for meals on Shabbos and Yom Tov:

It is praiseworthy to lavishly buy and prepare many fine foods for Shabbos, provided one has the means. Even if one is short of funds, having only possessions, he should use them as collateral to borrow money. G-d will surely provide him with the ability to pay it back. In this vein, our Sages taught: “G-d said, ‘Lend to Me and I will pay it off,’” meaning that the expenditures of Shabbos and Yom Tov do not count towards the sum allotted to the person on Rosh HaShana for his provisions throughout the year, as well as his other needs.

Thus, the Sages say that all of a man’s needs and the means to pay for his expenditures are allotted on Rosh HaShana. In Heaven it is determined how much he will earn that year to provide him with food, as well as the rest of his needs, for all the days of the year. Shabboses and Yomim Tovim, however, are exceptions that are not included in this amount at all. Rather, if one increases his spending for Shabbos and Yom Tov, he is granted more funds to pay for it.

(Shulchan Aruch HaRav, Laws of Shabbos 242:3)

The Talmudic passage upon which this law is based, reads: “All a man’s provisions are allotted for him from Rosh HaShana until Yom HaKippurim” (Beitza 16a). Here our Sages outline the period of judgement, which is determined on Rosh HaShana and finalized on Yom Kippur.

Shabbos and Yom Tov are times when the money we spend doesn’t count. These holy days do not detract from what is coming to us as our year’s budget (thereby encouraging us to spend liberally and enjoy celebrating these holy days).

Yom Kippur is when the Jewish people were given the Second Tablets bearing the Ten Commandments. The Tablets were placed in the Aron, the Holy Ark, in the Holy of Holies. Our Sages teach that “M’kom Aron eino min ha’midda – The space the Aron occupies does not count as part of the measure [of the Holy of Holies].” The Aron did not occupy any space; its measure did not count. That is, the Holy of Holies was 20 by 20 amos. Yet, if you measured from one wall of the Holy of Holies to the Aron, you would get 10 amos, and another 10 amos from the other side of the Aron to the opposite wall, indicating that the Aron took up no space.

The funny thing is that the measurements of the Aron are very precise, 1.5 x 2.5 x 1.5 amos (cubits) – yet it took up no space?! (Curiously, you would expect the Aron, the centerpiece of Holy Temple, to be the very measuring-stick for all units to follow, yet its dimensions are unrounded half-measures.) If the Aron did not have these exact dimensions, it would not be defined as an Aron, and the Mitzva to build and place the Aron in the Holy Temple would not be fulfilled. Clearly the measure of the Aron is something real, precise, and holy. So in what sense was it built to specific dimensions yet it does not take up any space?

***

When you consider the space of the Holy of Holies, a room that surrounds the Aron, you can count from either side two full measures (in round numbers of 10 amos, signifying two whole but separate “statures”), the Aron not taking up any space at all in the center. In this context, when the environment is considered, where there is a room, a “world,” the Aron is not a separate part of the equation – “M’kom Aron eino min ha’midda.” The Holy of Holies is is thus a space that houses Kudsha Brich Hu u’Sh’chintei, “Ani l’Dodi v’Dodi li,” G-d and His beloved.

But when speaking of the Aron itself, the Mitzva to form its shape, when the Aron is the focus without considering the room – the world – surrounding it, then its measurements are precise and real. Considered as an artifact unto itself, the Aron is designed to house the holy Tablets, a marriage contract between G-d and the Jewish people. The Aron is the place that embodies our seamless unity with G-d in a boundless, infinite way, where “the Jewish people and G-d are entirely one.” Then the space of the Aron (albeit finite) “eino min ha’midda – does not count as part of the measure” in the sense that it cannot be counted; it is truly an infinite and eternal unity, beyond measure, “ein od milvado.”

May we all merit to be written and sealed for a year of boundless abundance with the true and complete Redemption now! ■

 

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