weekly reading: parashas Terumah 5781 – the Golden Ark
“Overlay it with pure gold—overlay it inside and out—and make upon it a gold molding round about.” – Exodus 25:11, JPS
The Ark of the Covenant was built by Betzalel, who was consigned as artist extraordinaire, in charge of the building of the Mishkan (Tabernacle), and all of its components. Composed of an entirety of three interlocking boxes, one golden box on the inside, one acacia wood box in the middle, and one golden box on the outside, the ark of the covenant was especially suited for containing the two stone tablets with the aseret hadibrot (literally, ten utterances); otherwise, known as the Ten Commandments.
This bears weight upon a conceptual understanding of character development: for as we are on the inside, so should we appear on the outside; otherwise, if we personify an image, while not living up to our image, our inner person will not shine. In fact, only by a strong character, will we truly appear golden to others; otherwise, our hypocrisy will show up somehow, rather than shine from the “golden glow” inside of us.
This also can be understood in respect to what is most important, according to this particular illustration, in regard to the content or source of our character, that is from the Torah’s point-of-view. Thus, we can easily see that such an ornate receptacle was built to carry and house the tablets of stone that contained the engraved writing, in fire from the finger of G-d. The “power source” of the Ark of the Covenant was, and in a sense continues to be, the Ten Commandments. Additionally, all of the other commandments can be categorized within the framework of these ten commandments. As previously mentioned they are also referred to as the “ten utterances;” these words spoken by G-d continue to be spoken throughout the generations.
Ideally, the Ark provides a picture, if not an object lesson of divinity as well, since the Shechinah, G-d’s presence rested between the golden cherubim (angels) on the cover. The opportunity prevails upon us, inasmuch that we can relate to this teaching, that just as His presence rested within the space on top of the golden cover of the ark, so may the Shechinah rest within us, when we are reconciled to G-d. “And let them make me a sanctuary [mikdash], that I may dwell among [within] them” (Exodus 25:8, JPS). The original intent, ideally, is that G-d might dwell within each and every one of us. Let us permit His light to shine through our sincere character.