In The Spotlight


February 19, 2021
ADAR 7, 5781
Candle lighting Time 5:23 PM

            Inside the Mishkan we were commanded to put the table upon which the showbread was placed and the candelabra with its seven branches. However, the phrasing of the verse that describes their arrangement is somewhat perplexing. First, we are told to put the table near the curtain separating the two sections of the Mishkan. Then, the Torah commands to place the menorah opposite the table on the south side of the Mishkan. Afterwards, the verse then relates that we should place the table on the northern side of the Mishkan. Why is the verse seemingly disjointed?

            Sforno terms the Aron, the repository of the Tablets that Moshe brought from Hashem, as the throne upon which the Holy Presence descends upon. Then, the table and the menorah were positioned close by venerating the throne, the ark. Chizkuni adds that the menorah is mentioned after the table because the light of the menorah was cast upon the table. Perhaps he means to convey as Netziv points out that the showbread was our source of livelihood which we merited in order to support Torah. Hence, the light of Torah shown upon the table which had been the original font of support for those immersed in its study. Therefore, the table is mentioned first for its impact, support of Torah scholars, a necessity to advance Torah study. However, its ongoing merit is amplified as the menorah’s light illuminates the table.

            Chasam Sofer, perhaps coalescing the comments of Sforno and Chizkuni, explains that the table was placed outside the most consecrated area of the Mishkan where the ark was situated to emphasize the crucial demarcation between the realm of the divine and the more secular existence of this world. The dimension of the most inner sanctum where the aron was put, denoted a plane of reality unlike the world that we live in. The tablets contained within the ark are indicative and promotive of a connection to Hashem which only Torah can achieve. The showbread which actuated the influx of our material needs was not analogous with the celestial level of perception which permeated the area of the aron. And we put the menorah alongside the table with the showbread to underscore the importance of minimizing our involvement in working in order to not curtail our immersion in studying Torah.

            K’sav Sofer adds that the table is mentioned first because although the Torah is supreme, however, the financial support sustaining Torah scholars is of such importance that we even find when Yaakov blessed his children, he blessed Zevulun before Yissochor. Although Yissochor represented the tremendous devotion of Torah scholars, however, Zevulun’s funding, enabling Yissochor’s unending commitment to Torah study, was so valuable that he was mentioned first.

            Friday is the yahrzeit of Moshe, perhaps a propitious opportunity to reflect upon the importance of Torah both regarding our obligation to assist Torah institutions to flourish and more so, our obligation to study Torah and excel in our knowledge.


Hashem showed Moshe how the menorah should look and yet Moshe still required Divine intervention to make it for him. So why was it even shown to him. First, we need to demonstrate our initiative to fulfill Hashem’s will, then the rest will take place.   ~ S’FAS EMES