Not Just a Stopover

“…Whether it was for two days, a month or a year, that the cloud lingered to hover over the Mishkan, the children of Israel would encamp and not travel, and when it departed, they traveled…” – Bamidbar 9:22

אוֹ יֹמַיִם אוֹ חֹדֶשׁ אוֹ יָמִים בְּהַאֲרִיךְ הֶעָנָן עַל הַמִּשְׁכָּן לִשְׁכֹּן עָלָיו יַחֲנוּ בְנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל וְלֹא יִסָּעוּ וּבְהֵעָלֹתוֹ יִסָּעוּ – במדבר ט, כב

Each of Bnei Yisrael’s journeys and encampments in the desert was by Divine bidding. When it was time to travel, the miraculous cloud that covered the Mishkan would depart from over it, at which point Bnei Yisrael would travel, the cloud leading the way. “And in the place where the cloud came to rest, there the Bnei Yisrael encamped. At the commandment of G-d the Bnei Yisrael journeyed, and at the commandment of G-d they encamped” (Bamidbar 9:17-18)

the Mishkan

Some of their encampments lasted for a year or more, but in some locations their stay was only one night, or a day or two. Upon their arrival at each location, the Levi’im would reassemble the entire Mishkan, and then dismantle it when the cloud indicated that it was time to go. Since “at G-d’s bidding they would encamp, and at G-d’s bidding they would travel” (Bamidbar 9:23), there was obviously a G-dly reason to construct the Mishkan in that particular place at that particular time.  And since G-d and His will transcend time and space, the importance of any particular encampment was not determined by the length of time spent there. The Mishkan was therefore assembled in each location they camped, regardless of how long or short their stay would be.

As Jews, we know that our every step is determined by G-d’s providence, (and not only in the desert where it was plain to see.) Recognizing that our journeys in life are planned by G-d who transcends time and space, we must see to “create a Mishkan” within every situation, for however long G-d determines that moment to last. Whether a circumstance seems long-term or only temporary, it is an opportunity to unite with G-d and His infinite will in an infinite union that transcends all time or space.

—Likutei Sichos, vol 2, p. 687


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