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Spiritual Tools-Terumah-Honoring Scholars

The 26th of Shevat is the Yahrtzeit of Rav Dovid (ben Shmuel) Halevi Segal, author of Turei Zahav (the Taz) (1586-1667), son-in-law of the Bach. Born in Ludmir and raised in Cracow, he was the unofficial Rav of Posen from 1619 to approximately 1640. He headed the famous yeshiva at Ostro from 1643, and served as Av Beis of Brody. He escaped the Cossacks in 1648-49, traveling to Lublin, then Moravia. He settled in Lemberg (Lvov). The Taz lost two sons, Mordechai and Shmuel, to violent deaths in the Spring of 1664. In addition to Turei Zahav, he also wrote Divrei Dovid on Rashi al HaTorah.


“They shall make an Ark of acacia wood.… You shall cover it with pure gold, from with in and from without shall you cover it (Exodus 5:10–11).” The Midrash Tanchumah teaches that there were actually three boxes that form the Ark: a box of gold on the outside, a wooden box in the center, and another golden box on the inside. We derive from here that although a Torah scholar may be poor, represented by the wooden box, we must honor him just as we honor the wooden box by placing it between two golden boxes.

There are many explanations as to how we derive this system of three boxes. I would like to suggest that we can derive these laws from the fact that the verse begins by describing the cover from within and from without, before it actually describes the box. It would have been reasonable to begin by offering the instructions for the center box, and then describing the golden boxes that would go within and without. From the fact that we have this undefined “it,” that is covered both within and without, and the covers are manufactured from gold, that the center box is made from a different material, the material mentioned earlier in the verse; acacia wood.

We learn from here that the true definition of a Torah scholar is the person whose behavior reflects the same dignity of the wooden box; behavior that is as priceless as gold. These are the scholars we must honor. We honor them by honoring their actions and emulating them. (Divrei David)

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