back Back

What You See is What You Get?

By: Rabbi Barak Bar-Chaim

In Parshat Terumah, the Torah describes the Holy Ark housing the stone tablets of the Ten Commandments and the Torah scroll. The ark consisted of three nesting boxes. The outer and inner boxes were made of gold and the middle box was made of wood.

Just as the ark is the housing of the Torah (the word of God and its message of justice and morality), so too is it the charge of every human being to make him/herself a home where Torah justice and morality resides. It, therefore, follows that the structure of the ark represents the ideal character of the human being who embodies the Torah.

The Talmud teaches us the significance of the ark being constructed from an inner and outer gold box: “Any Torah scholar who is not the same on the inside as on the outside, is no Torah scholar” (Yoma 72b). A pre-requisite for being a vessel that embodies the Torah is clearly ‘one’s outside reflecting one’s inside’.’ The Torah represents ‘truth’ and, therefore, falsehood and superficiality cannot embody it.

Most of us assume that we pass the test of our ‘insides’ matching our ‘outsides’. However, deeper introspection reveals that, for most of us, there is much work to be done in this regard. Do we treat our family members with the respect and dignity we treat friends and strangers? Are we the same people at home and in the workplace? Do we put on masks and act in uncharacteristic ways, portraying a false image of ourselves in front of ‘more important people’? Do I pray with more intention when others are watching me? Am I the same person in the Synagogue as in the workplace?

Let us all work on becoming more truthful people of integrity. May we thereby merit to embody the lofty Torah and its message.