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The Eternal Wagons

Written by Rabbi Rudman, 10/6/2019

 Parshas Naso is the longest Parsha in the Torah. The bulk of the Parsha is the Korbanos the Nesi’im bring at the dedication of the Mishkan. The Torah seeming reiterates at the great length the Korbanos that they brought. But there is another aspect to the offering that they bring that also needs elucidation.

The Mishkan is a portable Bais HaMikdosh. Therefore, it needs to be constructed in a way that it can be easily transported. The roof is made of cloth that can easily dismantled, and the walls are built from beams that can be taken apart. But even so they are large and bulky. In the original command from HaShem there is no specific provision made as to how to easily carry them through the desert. The Nesi’im realize that this a problem and on their own volition, they bring wagons and oxen to facilitate the transport. Moshe is unsure how to proceed.

Every part of the Mishkon was a specific command from HaShem. As good an idea as this, how can he accept something that was not part of the original plan? The Midrash says[1]: When the Nesi’im brought their offering, Moshe was unsure what to do. HaShem says, “Take from them and praise them for this gift.” Moshe then is concerned, “Could it be that HaShem commanded them, and not me? Maybe there is a new Navi!” HaShem responds, “This was their idea, take from them, their idea was the same as Mine.”

But then Moshe is concerned about a different aspect of this Korban. “Possibly one of the wagons will break, or one the oxen will die, and the Korban will be Pasul?” HaShem then guarantees that the offering will remain forever, and the oxen will not die, not will the wagons break. This concern of Moshe seems to be out of place. Of course oxen will die! This is what happens to all living creatures. Why is Moshe so concerned?

The answer seems to lie in the original construction of the Mishkan. The Gemarra says the beams of the Mishkan lasted forever. This seems to be a function of the idea that whatever Moshe Rabbeinu did was something permanent. This can be understood from the Midah associated with Moshe. In the seven Midos, Moshe is the Midah of Netzach – eternity. Therefore, whatever he does cannot be destroyed. Therefore, if the offering of the Nesi’im is to be part of the Mishkan, it has to have the characteristics of the Mishkan, permanence.

The Midrash then continues to explain the significance of these wagons. There are six wagons parallel to the six levels of the heavens, as expounded in Sukkah. But are there not seven? The seventh is the abode of the Shechina, and that does not have a wagon. One can understand this on one level, the same way as the Mishkan is carried. The Shechina is like the holiest parts of the Mishkan, which are not carried on the wagons.

The Tzror HaMor explains the significance of the wagons[2]. Since they are a function of the camp of Klal Yisroel, they are similar to the camp of the Malachim. As we wrote last week, the camp of Klal Yisroel was the way Klal Yisroel saw the entourage of HaShem, and desired the same. Therefore, just as the arrangement of the Heaven, there is a Merkavah – chariot- that ‘carries’ the Shichina; so too the camp of Klal Yisroel has such a Merkavah.

Chazal say that the Avos are the Merkavah. I one time heard in the name of R’Chatzkel Levenstein ZT”L that the Merkavah is the travel of HaShem through history, and His revelation through that. The Avos brought into the world the direct obvious intervention of HaShem in history. That is why they are a Merkavah. The nation that they created is the vehicle for the revelation of HaShem. That vehicle will continue till the complete revelation of HaShem directly. Therefore, the Merkavah cannot be destroyed. That is another level of understanding of Moshe’s concern.

The Midrash also writes that the six wagons are the six Imahos. We usually discuss four Imahos, but here it also includes Bilhah and Zilpah. The twelve oxen are the twelve Shevatim. So we can explain the three inner parts of the Mishkan are the Avos. The Menorah is Avrohom, Shulcahn is Yitzchok, and Mizbeach is Yakov[3].  The wagons are the Imahos, and the oxen are the continuation which are through the Shevatim. This is another level of understanding of the eternity of the oxen. There is a Halacha that no Shevet can disappear. So the oxen which represent them cannot disappear.

Thus the donation of the Nesi’im is the ability to continue to travel through history. This is created by Klal Yisroel themselves, through the Nesi’im. It is up to us to forge our way through history, and to be eternal.

[1]  מדרש רבה שיר השירים – פרשה ו פסקה טו – ויקריבו אותם לפני המשכן מלמד שמסרום לציבור (במדבר ז’) ויאמר ה’ אל משה לאמר מהו לאמר אמר לו הקב”ה צא ואמור להם דברי שבח ונחמות א”ר הושעיא אמר הקב”ה מעלה אני עליכם כאילו כבר הייתי צריך לסבול בו את עולמי והבאתם לי באותה שעה נתיירא משה אמר בלבו תאמר רוח הקדש נסתלקה ממני ושרת על הנשיאים או שמא נביא אחד עמד וחידש את ההלכה אמר לו הקב”ה משה אילו להם הייתי אומר שיביאו הייתי אומר לך שתאמר להם אלא (שם) קח מאתם והיו מהו קח מאתם מאתם היו הדברים ומי נתן להם את העצה א”ר סימון שבטו של יששכר אמר להם המשכן הזה שאתם עושים פורח הוא באויר עשו לו עגלות כדי שיהא נטען בהם הוא שהכתוב משבח שבט יששכר שנא’ (ד”ה א’ י”ב) ומבני יששכר יודעי בינה לעתים

[2]  צרור המור על במדבר פרק ז פסוק א – ולפי שענין הדגלים חמדו אותם מיום מ”ת, לפי שראו ד’ מחנות שכינה באופנים וחיות ועגלות נושאות המרכבה. ראו הנשיאים שעדיין לא נגמרה מלאכת הדגלים, לפי שכמו שלמעלה היו אופנים וחיות נושאות ד’ מחנות, כאומרם והאופנים וחיות הקודש (תפלת שחרית), שזהו ואתא מרבבות קדש (דברים לג, ב). כן היה צריך למטה בדגלים ובד’ מחנות, אופנים וחיות ועגלות נושאות המשכן שהוא דמות המרכבה. ולכן נסמכה פרשה זו לברכת כהנים, להשלים ענין הדגלים:

[3]  פרי צדיק פרשת פקודי – אות ז – והם שלחן בצפון ומנורה בדרום ימינא ושמאלא מדות אברהם ויצחק כידוע. וכתר כהונה שבמזבח הקטורת כנגד יעקב אבינו ע”ה שמטתו שלימה שנכלל בו אף שכנגד החלבנה שגם כן עתידין שיתנו ריח. וכן הוא המזבח באמצע


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