Coming and Going
The gift of life provides us the opportunity to earn Olam Habah, the ultimate reward for Mitzvah observance and appreciation of Hashem in this world. The trek to eternity leads us to many stations along the roadway of life. Each stop has its own unique significance and impact upon us and our family. How can we be sure to seek the proper destination? What can we do to absorb the spirit of the moment and capture its message in our day to day existence? This week’s parsha lends us a clue.
The Torah describes how the Shechina enveloped the Mishkan with the Ananei Hakovod during the day and a pillar of fire each eve. When the moment arrived for klal yisrael to travel the cloud lifted and started to move. Then, the Aron picked itself up and set forth to lead and Bnei Yisroel followed. When the Jews arrived at their destination, the cloud stopped and the Aron was anchored. Bnei Yisrael pitched their tents and erected the Mishkan.
The Torah uses two different descriptions to define the scenarios of Klal Yisrael’s course through the desert. One description is al pi Hashem yisu v’al bnai Yisrael v’al pi Hashem yachanu — “through the command of Hashem they traveled and through His word they encamped.” The other phrase is just the opposite, al pi Hashem yachanu v’al pi Hashem yisau – “through the command of Hashem they encamped and through His word they traveled.”
Our Rabbis explain that the phraseology is reversed to teach us that we must always keep Hashem Yisborach front and center of our lives. Whether we have “just arrived” or are “settled in,” we must be ever cognizant that it is Hashem who made it happen. However, Hakaodsh Baruch Hu leaves it up to us to recognize our obligations. Indeed, it seems easy to follow the Aron while it is on the move. We look up at the Shechina and join the mass of Am Yisrael as we are miraculously carried by the strength of the Tzibbur. But encamped for months and/or years at a time we can become complacent. Al pi Hashem Yachanu, reminds us that wherever we are, the Shechina is present and our responsibilities do not change. Conversely, there are times when we seek to change the status quo, to go off on our own and court new vistas of opportunity. In so doing we must be vigilant to the maxims of our emunah and remember, Al pi Hashem Yisu.
Al pi Hashem Yachanu, al pi Hashem Yisau. Hashem comes with us wherever we go and we can make him proud. Indeed, when we go forth with Hashem Yisborach at out side can we achieve all we aspire for. Thus the conclusion of the Posuk becomes ever clearer: es mishmeres Hashem shamaru al pi Hashem b’yad Moshe!