By Rabbi Y. Dov Krakowski
This week’s Sedra marks the end of Sefer Shemos. At the end of this week’s Sedra and thus at the end of Sefer Shemos the Torah ends off with a very subtle idea. After informing us as to how Moshe put together the Mishkan it tells us that there was a “cloud” that covered the Mishkan during the day symbolizing Hashem’s Glory in the Mishkan, and that a “fire” took the cloud’s place at night. The Psukim continue and tell us that when the cloud would lift and begin to move Klal-Yisroel would begin to travel by following it. The Torah tells us that held true for all their travels. The Torah reiterates that that the cloud would be present בכל מסעיהם – with each of their travels. This last point is a bit oddly stated. What does traveling mean? It can’t possibly mean while they were traveling.
Rashi is bothered by this difficulty and explains that the word ‘travels’ means their stops/ encampments. Rashi further explains that this is the case since each stopping led to the next traveling. While Rashi explains to us what the Passuk means, we are still left with the question of why we don’t refer to the stops as stops. What does the next journey have to do with each camp stop?
In the beginning of Sefer Vayikra (in the beginning of next week’s Sedra) Rashi explains the reason for the breaks (the tab marks) in the Torah between every “Parsha” – paragraph in the Torah. Rashi explains that after Hashem told Moshe something Moshe Rabeinu took a break – a pause of a sort in order to reflect upon what Hashem had just instructed him – so that he could fully comprehend Hashem’s Words. From this Rashi we see the significance of breaks- stops. Every time we rest or stop between things we are really providing an opportunity for our actions and intellect to take advantage of what has most recently transpired.
Perhaps this is the idea Rashi at the end of this week’s Sedra is trying to impart to us. Rashi is telling us that stops in of themselves aren’t anything special. The stop is merely an opportunity for reflection of the journey to the stop and the journey from the stop. Klal-Yisroel at each stop reflected upon the trials and tribulations of their latest leg of their journey. Klal-Yisroel at every stop prepared for their next leg of their journey onward. It is very possible that Rashi drew this great insight from the fact that the Torah uses the plural מסעיהם (their journeys) – that is, the past journey, and the next journey.
The Torah is hinting at a new definition of what it means to be a ‘wandering Jew’. We must constantly take a step back to reflect on the lessons we have had until our current positions, and we must always prepare ourselves for the lessons life has in store.
A very warm Good Shabbos, Rabbi Y. Dov Krakowski