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.
Parshas Pekudei starts off by imparting the instructions of the Mishkan that were given by Moshe Rabeinu. Why does the Passuk need to specify that these were the instructions given by Moshe Rabeinu, why doesn’t it just say these are the instructions of Hashem given by Moshe Rabeinu? Or better yet, these were the instructions of the Mishkan? What does the Torah need to specify that these instructions were given by Moshe Rabeinu at all? (See Targum Yonosson that seems to be bothered by this issue.)
It seems very clear that the Torah is emphasizing that Moshe Rabeinu – and he alone – relayed to us the instructions of the Mishkan. Perhaps this is precisely what the Torah is trying to tell us. Sometimes it’s not a question of what or how something is said, but of who said it.
Klal-Yisroel donated generously to the building of the Mishkan – but they had also done the same for the Eigel Hazahav. Moshe Rabeinu hadn’t. Moshe Rabeinu always stayed entirely pure, and Moshe Rabeinu’s intentions were always entirely pure.
Had anyone else instructed Klal-Yisroel as to how to build the Mishkan it may have sounded right, but it could also have resulted in another Eigel.
We may be offered advice from all sorts of people and the advice may sound right, but we still have to evaluate if the advice is coming from the right person.