Bamidbar: Chapter 4 sentence 17-20

At the end of the parsha, the Levi family of Kohath is charged with taking down and carrying the mishkan items.  The Torah says in chapter 4 sentence 17: Don’t cut off the family of kohath from the Levites. Rashi says: Don’t cause them to die.   Then there is cryptic and difficult sentence to translate in sentence 20: They will not come to see when wrapping the holies and die.   Rashi says: they will cover the vessels . The word “kebela” is difficult or vague .  As said, Rashi understands it to be “covering” or to cover.

Ramban takes a  different way.  Ramban quotes Rashi and then sends to you Talmud Sanhedrin 81b where it talks about taking law  into your own hands and killing someone when they are in them middle of doing something bad.  The Mishna in Sanhedrin says : someone steals a”kisva”. The Talmud tells us that the Kisva is a holy service vessel and quotes the pasuk from Bamidbar  20.  Ramban understands the word “kebala” as stealing?

Who would steal a holy vessel? Maybe the answer is that what starts as innocent looking becoming familiar ends up in stealing. Life is incremental.   Actions lead to other actions. As golfers say, ” You keep kicking the ball a little closer the green”.  The point of the Torah is learning to respect boundaries and values that are immutable. Laws maybe can be changed to reflect realities, but values do not change.  THe SD could use this mussar. As the SD  is always in life kicking the proverbial “ball closer to the green”.

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