Who Supports Whom?


By Rabbi Berach Steinfeld

In this week’s parsha, Parshas Terumah, the Torah tells us that the badim had to be in the aron to be used to carry the aron.

The way the aron was carried was a miracle. Despite the fact that the aron featured badim on the sides to enable the Kohanim to carry it, in reality the aron carried the people who carried it.

This miracle was visible to all of the Jews as they crossed the Yarden. After the Yarden split and all of the Bnei Yisroel crossed, the Kohanim holding the aron stepped back and the waters rushed back to their normal flow. Subsequently the aron picked up the Kohanim and had them fly over the rushing waters to get to the other side.

What is the purpose of the badim if they did not actually serve purposeful as a tool to carry the aron?

The answer is that it is a metaphor of what happens when you have those learning Torah being supported by those who serve as the “Zevulun” in their Torah partnership.

It appears to the average person that Zevulun is supporting Yissochor. The truth is the exact opposite; it is Yissochor whose learning is actually supporting Zevulun in both this world and the world to come.

This concept is seen in a touching way in the following story about the Rosh Yeshiva of Telz, Rabbi Eliezer Gordon. When he got married his father-in-law supported the young couple so that Rabbi Gordon could learn.

A few years later Rabbi Gordon received an offer to be a Rav in another city. Upon hearing about the offer his father-in-law asked, “Why do you need to take this offer? I am supporting you and everything is taken care of.” Rabbi Gordon rejected the offer.

Many years later the father-in-law’s fortunes turned and he was having a hard time supporting his son-in-law. The mother-in-law begged her husband to rethink his position concerning their son-in-law’s repeated rabbinical offers. “Let him take the offer and then we will have enough for ourselves!” she told her husband. Rabbi Gordon’s father-in-law responded to her, “In our partnership I don’t know who is supporting whom!”

Their financial situation deteriorated to the point that they had no choice but to tell Rabbi Gordon that he should take the next offer he receives. Rabbi Gordon listened and a few days later received an offer to become the Rav of Telz. On the day of his move to Telz, as he was traveling toward his new city, a messenger rushed to tell him to come back as his father-in-law had died and he needs to attend the funeral. At the levaya his mother-in-law begged forgiveness from Rabbi Gordon for her husband. It was clear for everyone to see who had been supporting whom!

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