This week’s Torah portion contains the description of the Tabernacle and its various furnishings—the Table for the Showbreads, the Menorah, the Altar and, of course, the Ark. We no longer have the Tabernacle, the Holy Temple or any of the contents, but their descriptions in the Torah provide us with valuable lessons on character and behavior. Human beings are likened to the Ark. We are told that the Ark was to be made of wood, but covered with gold. It was not solid gold, though it appeared to be. Rashi explains that the Ark was actually made of 3 boxes. A box made of wood was inserted into a larger box made of gold and another smaller gold box was placed inside it. The Ark is actually made of wood, symbolic of something that lives, breathes and grows; symbolic of Torah which we call Eitz Chayim—the tree of life. Just as the Ark is covered with gold, we are to treat our fellow man as valuable and respected as gold and God loves each of us as golden.
One of my favorite expressions emanates from the description for the design of the Ark. We describe a quality individual the way we describe the Ark that “tocho k’boro”—literally that her inside is like her outside. When we say of someone “tocho k’boro” we give high praise because it is a statement of inner and outer beauty, but the type of beauty that really matters, the enduring beauty of honesty, integrity and humility. Society frowns upon the hypocrite who says one thing and does another. Society should frown on those who believe that outward appearance—model quality, physical beauty as transcendent is a goal. Rather, we honor the individual who is honest inside and out, who practices privately the same thing she preaches publicly, someone who is the genuine article, the real deal. We respect the person who is golden on the inside and treats others like gold. We revere the person who has internalized the values of Torah symbolized by the Eitz Chayim wood within the Ark.
We learn the valuable lesson that what is on the inside is more important than what is on the outside.
We learn with Ruth Bergman this Shabbat, finding interesting and important insights in this week’s Parasha you may not have considered. 9:45 a.m. Come as you are. Stay as long as you like.