In this week’s Parashah, Hashem commands Bnei Yisrael to make the Aron HaKodesh. The Pasuk states, “ViAsu Aron Atzeh Shitim…ViTzipitah Oto Zahav Tahor…” “And they shall make an Aron of Shitim wood… And you shall cover it with pure gold…” (25:10-11). What is the function of the wood interior? If it is necessary to have a core of wood, why is it crucial that it be entirely covered in gold?
The best way to understand the function of the wood interior is to examine the following analogy. When people donate money to a school, most people would rather donate to the building of the Beit Midrash, the shul, or the gymnasium. In a school, these are the places that stand out, that are noticeable and will make the donor appreciated and respected. Yet at the same time, for a school to function properly, someone has to donate money for the bathrooms too, even though they won't receive the same honor as they would have by funding the other more esteemed rooms.
The same is true with the Aron. To make the Aron, wood was needed to provide the sturdiness without which the Aron could not stably exist. It was therefore crucial that the wood be a part of the Aron even though it doesn’t necessarily shine and gleam the way gold does. At the same time, Hashem also requires that gold surround the wood of the Aron, adding to its beauty.
It is possible that Hashem is teaching us a very valuable lesson by showing the necessity of both gold and wood in the creation of the object onto which he will lay his Shechinah. We each have strengths and weaknesses, successes and failures; it is our faults, as well as our strengths, that make us human. Through his requirement of gold and wood, Hashem demonstrates his understanding that despite our best intentions and our desires to become the benefactor of the Beit Midrash, each person has his or her wood at their core. As such, Hashem not only realizes but endorses each person’s individual way of finding and serving Him.