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Allegedly, the holy ark sustained itself miraculously:

"ויבואו עד גורן נכון וישלח עוזה אל ארון האלהים ויאחז בו כי שמוטו הבקר".
אמר הקב"ה ארון נושא את נושאיו עצמו לא כל שכן?!"
(ילקוט שמעוני שמואל ב, פרק ה רמז קמב)

We see that the Egyptians moved stones of 100 tons and more quite naturally. So I presume, that without the miracle if it stopped someday, the Jews would know how to carry it manually.

So did the miracle work through the ~1000 years of the Ark existence, or the miracle was limited to a specific era (in the wilderness, before the first temple, until the destruction of the first temple or when the Ark was buried)?

  • Since you have the calculation that the Aron was about 4 metric tons then it would seem obvious that it could only be moved by a miracle. Alternatively, Moshe Rabbeinu stole an antigravity engine to allow it to be moved by the those who had to carry it (as specified by Clarke's law). Last sentence is because of the current date. – sabbahillel Feb 22 at 1:25
  • @sabbahillel I meant to ask whether the miracle stopped at some point. – Al Berko Feb 22 at 11:21
  • 4 metric tons shows that for people to carry it, meant that it could only be carried by a miracle, no matter when (or by what means) it was being moved. – sabbahillel Feb 22 at 20:51
  • @sabbahillel We see that the Egyptians moved 100 tons stones and more quite naturally. So if the miracle stopped the Jews would know how to carry it manually. – Al Berko Feb 23 at 16:54
  • Since the Bnai Yisrael only used four kohanim, rather than rollers and teams of slaves. then they required the miracle. Unless of course they had a solar powered antigrav device. – sabbahillel Feb 24 at 0:36
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According to the math I cite here, I don't think it's possible to say that it wasn't true always. While they were stronger back then (Sotah 34a says they could pick up 40 se'ah of rock on their own), that's nowhere near enough strength to pick up thousands of kilograms without a miracle aiding them.

  • Some commentary states that when Moshe was coming down with the tablets and realized the grievous sin of the Israelites, the letters floated back to heaven rendering the tablets unholy and too heavy to carry. One reason he knew to smash them. Seems likely the aron kodesh was miraculously light as well to enable mobility. – Ephraim77 Feb 21 at 20:17
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Baaley Tosafoth say that it was only for that one time [לפי שעה]. Quoting from Sotah 35 apparently.

Chizkuni Shemoth 25, Sefaria:

וצפית אתו זהב ראוי היה הארון להיות כולו של זהב אלא שלא יהא כבד לנשאו, ודינו להנשא בכתף כדכתיב כי עבודת הקדש עליהם בכתף ישאו, וכן מצינו במזבח שהיה נבוב לחות כדי שלא יהא כבד.

“you are to cover it with gold.” The ark was actually designed to be constructed completely of pure gold, but it would have been too heavy to carry, especially since the Torah had commanded the sons of Kehat to carry it on their shoulders. Compare Numbers 7,9. We find that the altar was also hollow and filled with earth, presumably for the same consideration. (Exodus 27,8)

  • +1! I suspect he had no idea how much it weighted. So how do you understand "for that one time [לפי שעה]" in time? – Al Berko Feb 24 at 9:59
  • What do you mean to ask, sorry I don’t follow your question @AlBerko – Dr. Shmuel Feb 24 at 15:34
  • "One time" (לפי שעה" means what era? In the desert, in israel or all the time? – Al Berko Feb 24 at 17:48

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