Aron Nosay Ess Nosav – The Ark Bears Its Bearers
It was a momentous day. The Aron[g1] , the most precious of Jewish possessions, was finally being brought back to where it belonged. For years it had languished in captivity, but now, that wrong was being righted. The Aron was being carried toward Jerusalem via a new wagon, being pulled by two strong oxen, which, in turn, were being guided by members of the Levite tribe. King David was out there with masses of people. It was a full parade with joy and music, with song and dance, with exuberant spirits.
Up ahead in the road was a curve, and as the oxen rounded the bend, the wagon swung slightly. One onlooker, Uzza, instinctively, protectively, shot out his hand and placed it on the Aron, to keep the Aron from sliding out of the wagon into the mud. With not much further ado, Uzza fell dead. The music stopped. The wagon stopped. The mood of the onlookers turned somber and depressed. The Aron no longer was carried forward. Instead, it was left in a home nearby as everyone dispersed quietly. Party over, funeral begins.
Uzza’s soul went to Gan Eden. He had messed up, it was true, but the Heavenly Courts reckoned he had sanctified G-d’s name through his death, allowing him entry into the higher realms in the next world. Uzza’s error was simple. He, who had been taught that the Aron always carried those who carried it, had forgotten that the Aron was above nature, that it was the bearer, and that he, Uzza, was being borne by the Aron.
Only those lessons that were needed for generations are recorded in Tanach[g2] . Torah is not a history book and is not a story book. It is a guide to our behavior. Where is the lesson for the ages that is found in this story? Do we carry any Aron in our generation that we needed the lesson of Uzza? For years I wondered about this story, pained that because of his wrong but good intentions Uzza died. His death seemed pointless unless something profound was learned for our generation from his long-ago death.
In our day and age, I finally understand it. The generation after the Holocaust built up Torah with a proliferation of Kollelim[g3] . People were sitting and learning, sthteiging and bringing spiritual sanctity to the world. Askanim and Baalei Batim[g4] , those who were the Zevuluns[g5] of the world, proudly and generously supported Torah institutions, encouraging hundreds to be able to learn. Then, along came a movement of belittling the Kollel Yungerleit, of calling them parasites. Then came a time where less young men went to Kollel and more were enrolled in colleges. Then came a time where sentiment was that everyone should stop their support of Torah learning, that charity should be given elsewhere than to Yeshivas and Kollelim. Gone was the respect and awe we, the working, should have had for those learners in whose merit the whole world is sustained. We, our generation, forgot that the Aron is Nosei Es Nosav, that the Torah learners were carrying us and not vice versa.
The result, my friends, was not long in coming. The stock market teeters like a drunken woman on high heels. The economy is crumbling and crumbling fast. We, who thought we carried the Yeshivas, when we took the Yeshivas off our shoulders, find that we are not being sustained. There is a solution. We can, all of us, reinforce support for Torah. We can have zero tolerance for the bloggers, editorials and letters that belittle those who sit and learn. We can raise up the Aron again, remembering this time as we carry it, that Torah carries its supporters, and not vice versa.
[g1]Ark in which were kept the Tablets and the Torah Moshe wrote. [g2]Tanach is the acronym for Torah, Nevi’im and Kesuvim which comprise the written Torah. [g3]Study Halls of Torah for adults [g4]Do-Gooders and Wage Earners [g5]Zevulun was the tribe that would support another tribe Yisacher whose members sat and learned Torah all day in a partnership approach. Zevulun took charge of the physical needs of both tribes and Yisascher devoted themselves to matters of spirituality, agreeing to share the reward in next world with Zevulun