Colors & Flavors!

The Tribe of Levi was designated as the representative of G-d and the Jewish people to serve in the Temple. The Kohanim, Aaron and his descendants, were chosen to perform the actual Temple services and functions, such as the sacrifices and offerings. The rest of the tribe of Levi were watchmen of the Temple, the singers in the Temple’s daily choir, and played in its musical accompaniment.

When the Jews were in the desert they dwelled on the four sides of the Temple. The twelve tribes were divided into four groups of three tribes. One group was in the east, the second in the north, the third in the south and the last in the west, with the Temple in the center.

Immediately surrounding the Temple were the Kohanim and Levites. They too were assigned to dwell in specific locations based on their family. Moshe and the Kohanim were in the eastern direction while the three Levite families, Gershon, Kehos and Merori dwelled in a specific direction around the Temple.

The symmetry and the beauty of the arrangement of how the Jews settled and traveled was captured by the non-Jewish prophet Bilaam. Even while Bilaam was wishing to curse the Jewish nation, he could not restrain himself from complimenting the way the Jewish nation dwelled.

Each of the three Levite families was responsible for transporting a specific part of the Temple when G-d indicated that they should begin traveling to their next destination.

The holiest components of the Temple were the Holy Ark, the Menorah, the Table of the Showbread, the golden incense Altar, and the larger Copper Altar on which animals, birds and meal sacrifices were offered.

The Levite family of Kehos was entrusted with preparing these items for transport and for carrying them.

While they were travelling, all the vessels in the Temple were covered. The Torah, in last week’s portion of Bamidbar, details the different colors and materials used for the various coverings of the vessels and the order in which they were placed on each vessel.

The first cover of the Holy Ark was the Peroches, the curtain that separated the area of the Holy and the Holy of Holies of the Temple. The second covering was made of Tachash hide. The Tachash was a multi colored animal which only appeared during the time of the construction of the Temple and then became extinct. The top and outer covering of the Ark was dyed a beautiful blue Techailes that came from a snail called Chilazon.

The first of the two coverings of the inner Altar, Menorah and Table of Showbread was made of Blue Techailes and the outer covering was made out of the multi colored Tachash hide.

The outer Altar’s first covering was made of a deep red Argomon covering and it was topped off by the multi colored Tachash hide. The red color represented either the fire that was continually on the Altar or the blood of the sacrifices that was dashed on the corners, walls and base of the Altar.

Rabbi Moshe Feinstein o.b.m. explains why the outer covering of the Holy Ark was Techailes blue while the outer covering of the other vessels was the multi colored Tachash hide.

The blue Techailes and the multi colored Tachash represent different concepts. The blue Techailes symbolizes belief in G-d, for its blue makes people think of Heaven where G-d’s Throne is.

The multi colored Tachash was unusually beautiful and encouraged the enhancement of Mitzvos by beautifying them.

The blue cover of the Ark, which housed the Torah and the Ten Commandments, taught, that for one to serve the Almighty one’s belief in G-d and His Torah must be ironclad. Once this belief is in place, the beautification and adornment of one’s actual performance of the Mitzvos, represented by the multi colored hues of the outer covering of vessels, can have true significance, satisfaction, a lasting effect and a pleasing allure.

Rabbi Avigdor Miller o.b.m. would point out that G-d, in His infinite kindness to us, created fruits and vegetables with varied tastes and colors. “G-d could have created all fruits and vegetables with similar tastes with each providing their unique vitamins and essentials. And He could have created all fruits and vegetables the same white color. G-d created every type of vegetable and fruit with a different color and taste so that we become attracted by the color and taste of the food so that it stimulates our appetites so that we eat and become healthily nourished.” Rabbi Miller encouraged people to stop and pause at the breathtaking display of fruits and vegetables in the markets and to take a moment to recognize and thank the Almighty for all the kindness He does for us.

By not taking all G-d does for us for granted, we instill within our consciousness the ability to express our gratitude and appreciation toward others, especially to those that are dear and close to us!