Simcha's Torah Stories - Bamidbar

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Simcha's Torah Stories

Parshat Bamidbar

THE CENTER

That model looks really neat, Chaim. What is it?

It is a model of the camp of the Jewish people during the years in the desert, Avi. The twelve tribes are camped around the outside. Inside is the camp of the Kohanim and Leviim.

What is that in the center?

That is the Mishkan (Tabernacle).

What is inside of the Mishkan?

Many things. The holiest part is the Kodesh Kodoshim (Holy of Holies).

What is inside of the Kodesh Kodoshim?

The Aron Kodesh (Holy Ark).

Do you mind if I ask you one more question Chaim?

Not at all, Avi.

What is inside of the Aron Kodesh?

That's a good question, Avi. Inside of the Aron Kodesh is the Sefer Torah.

Why is that such a good question Chaim?

Because, now you have come to the center. The Sefer Torah is in the innermost part of the camp. It is inside the Aron Kodesh, which is inside the Kodesh Kodoshim, which is inside the Mishkan, which is inside the camp of the Kohanim and Leviim, which is inside of the camp of the twelve tribes.

I see why my question was good. G-d does not do anything haphazardly. He instructed the Jewish people to set up the camp in this specific way. The center of the camp is the focal point and usually contains something or someone very important.

Exactly, Avi. Rabbi Yisrael Meir Kagan, who is known to us as the Chofetz Chaim, explains why the Sefer Torah was in the center. In our shuls nowadays, the Sefer Torah is read on the "bimah" a table in the center of the shul. Similarly, the Eitz HaChaim (Tree of Life) was planted in the center of the Garden of Eden. This is all a beautiful parable to the Torah, which is our "Tree of Life". The human body is also part of the parable. The life force flows from the heart. Therefore, it is in the center of the body. It pumps the blood, which carries this life force to all parts of the body, and they all receive their energy from it. So you see, when G-d designs something, He puts its energy source in the center.

The Torah must be the energy source for the Jewish people.

Right again, Avi. The Torah is the generator of the spiritual energy that keeps us alive. In the last blessing of the Amidah prayer, the Torah is referred to as "Toras Chaim", the Torah of life.

We had better get busy, Chaim.

Doing what?

If G-d Himself put the Torah in the center of the camp, then we must surely put it in the center of our lives.

In what way, Avi?

The Torah is called our Torah of life because it guides us how to live our lives. Everything that we do should revolve around it. The halacha (Torah Law) guides us in all areas. It tells us how to eat, how to speak, how to conduct our business matters, and how to treat our family, friends, and neighbors. Whenever we think about doing something, our first question must be, "How should this be done according to Torah?" There is a right and a wrong way to do everything. The Torah tells us the right way.

I have another parable, Avi. When you put the Torah at the center, then everything spins around nice, smooth and balanced like a dreidel on Chanukah. We should all put our "Torah dreidel" down and "spin to win".


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Written by Simcha Groffman
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