Beha’alotcha 9:23 – they encamped & rested בהעלותך

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23 At the commandment of Hashem they encamped, and at the commandment of Hashem they rested; they followed and travelled as Hashem commandment them by the word of Moses. {P}

כג  עַל-פִּי יְהוָה יַחֲנוּ, וְעַל-פִּי יְהוָה יִסָּעוּ:  אֶת-מִשְׁמֶרֶת יְהוָה שָׁמָרוּ, עַל-פִּי יְהוָה בְּיַד-מֹשֶׁה.  {פ}

The Torah then describes how G-d would signal the Jewish people that it was time to proceed in their travels. When the cloud that always hovered above the Tabernacle would spread over the entire camp, the people began to prepare to travel. When they were ready, this cloud would lead the way through the desert.

The Adjustments of Temporary Situations

עַל פִּי ה’ יַחֲנוּ וְעַל פִּי ה’ יִסָּעוּ וגו’: (במדבר ט:כג)

At G-d’s commandment they encamped, and at G-d’s commandment they traveled.

Beni Israel never knew in advance how long they would be staying at any given camp – it could have been for a day or for years. Nonetheless, they would set up the Tabernacle in its entirety at each encampment, following G‑d’s instructions to keep the Tabernacle functioning at all times.

This teaches us two important lessons. First, we should recognize that it is G‑d who leads us through all our journeys in life – whether geographical, emotional, mental, or spiritual. We should indeed make our own plans based on our lives’ goals, but at the same time, we must realize that G‑d knows when it is in our best interest to stay put or to move on to the next station in life, and that He arranges things accordingly.

Second, we should not “put our lives on hold” when we are in temporary situations. Since G‑d is beyond time and place, when we connect with Him even for one moment, that moment lasts for all time. Whether a personal journey lasts a day or a decade, we can make it into a sanctuary, imbued with the eternal permanence of G‑d’s presence.

Fourth Reading: Numbers 9:15–10:10

Translated and Adapted from the class of Moshe Wisnefsky

FOOTNOTES
1. Likutei Sichot, vol. 2, p. 687.