The Found ArkJanuary 28, 2014 - 5:00 am
The poles are to remain in the rings of this ark; they are not to be removed.—Exodus 25:15
The Torah portion for this week is Terumah, which means “contributions,” from Exodus 25:1–27:19, and the Haftorah is from 1 Kings 5:26–6:13.
Despite the premise in the popular movie Raiders of the Lost Ark, nobody knows where the Ark of the Covenant is today. However, we do know where and when it came into existence. In this week’s Torah reading, the children of Israel are given instructions for building the Tabernacle and all the elements that would be part of it, including the Ark.
For Jews, the Ark of the Covenant is the most holy item that ever existed. It contained the tablets of the Ten Commandments and the first Torah scroll penned by Moses. Additionally, the Ark was the medium through which God communicated to His people from between the two golden cherubs situated on its cover. Even today, the Ark is a symbol of God’s Word and is of utmost importance in Judaism.
Today’s portion contains an interesting law relating to the Ark. Like many of the ritual objects that were part of the Tabernacle, the Ark had golden loops attached to its corners so that poles could be inserted in times of travel, making the items portable. However, when it came to the Ark, we are told that the poles were not allowed to be removed — ever. Even at times of rest, the poles were to remain in place.
The Sages explain that the reason for this injunction was to symbolize that the Torah, as represented by the Ark, is portable. While other elements of the Tabernacle were lost in history, the Torah has accompanied the Jewish people around the world for thousands of years. The underlying message? The Bible is not limited to a time and place. It is eternally relevant and applicable.
When Israeli astronaut Ilan Ramon went into space on the Space Shuttle Columbia, he took a tiny Torah scroll with him. The scroll had been given to a boy in a death camp during the Holocaust, and Ramon explained that taking the Torah into space would show the world that a person can go from the deepest depths to the highest heights of outer space.
However, I think there is another deeper meaning to Ramon’s symbolic act. Whether we are at the lowest point of our lives or enjoying the peak moments, the Bible is equally relevant. In our hard times, we can lean on the Bible for faith and walk obediently before our God. In our good times, we must not forget the Lord, but turn to Him with gratitude, serve Him, and follow Him with faith.
Perhaps this is why God has arranged it that the Ark remains lost today – so that we realize that God’s Word is to be found everywhere. It is not limited to an Ark, or one time or place for serving God. His Word is an eternal guide that is relevant anywhere, any time.