Beha’aloscha 5775 – Traveling with Hashem

If I ask anyone why a Chumash is called a Chumash, without thinking you will answer because it contains the five books: Bereishis, Shmos, Vayikra, Bamidibar, and Devarim. However, what is not so well known is that there is an argument how many books there actually are. The gemara in Shabbos (116) brings the opinion that there are seven books. According to this opinion, sefer Bamidbar is split into three books. This split actually occurs in this week’s parshah of B’ha’aloscha.

The first part of Bamidbar comes to an end right after Yisro takes leave of Bnei Yisroel and goes back to his house. The second part is the two verses that quote the prayer Moshe offered when Bnei Yisroel traveled and subsequently camped. The third part of Bamidbar is when we read about the people who reminisced about Egypt and desired to have all the regular food that they had there. What happened that warrants this split to take place? Furthermore, why does the Torah link the first and third part with the prayer of Moshe in between?

If we analyze the first and third part we find a very big difference between them. In the first part we are told about how the Bnei Yisroel camped by the word of Hashem and traveled by the word of Hashem. Even when to travel and how long to stay in one location was decided and carried out by the Bnei Yisroel without a qualm. This is a tremendous level of negation of a person’s desire, where no personal gain is taken into account; everything is for the Boss.

However, in the third part we are told how Bnei Yisroel started to fall, and for the first time Moshe, the great leader, expresses to Hashem how he cannot lead Bnei Yisroel alone. We also find for the first time the prophecy of Eldad and Maidad. Their prophecy contained the bitter truth that Moshe was going to die and Yehoshua would lead Bnei Yisroel into Eretz Yisroel. Why at this point in time do these things take place? Also, what did Bnei Yisroel do that caused them to fall so greatly?

The Ohr Hachaim and Netziv explain that at the end of the first part the Torah relates to us that Bnei Yisroel traveled away from Har Sinai. Chazal understand this to mean that they ran away just like a child runs away from school. This is where the problem lies. Until this point nothing was done with a personal agenda. The agenda was: whatever Hashem wants is what we will do, “Bnei Yisroel camped by the word of Hashem and traveled by the word of Hashem.”

Hashem was leading with the attribute that the mystics refer to as Tiferes, Splendor. This Hanhaga, type of leadership, is where Moshe can be an effective leader.

However when Bnei Yisroel left Har Sinia like a child, they ran away from this Hanhaga as well. They desired to live like regular people, and to have the same type of food and desires as common folk.

At this point Moshe realized that he cannot lead Bnei Yisroel alone. He understood that he could not be an effective leader because of the level that they had fallen to. Ultimately Bnei Yisroel would lose out because they would not merit having Moshe lead them into Eretz Yisroel. Therefore the future was prophesized now, that Yehoshua would be the leader.

The link between the two different Hanhagos is the two verses of prayer during travel. When Moshe saw this fall take place he offered a prayer that no matter what level Bnei Yisroel fall to, they should always hold onto the Aron i.e. the Torah contained within.

This is a lesson for us in our personal lives. We are far from the level of the generation that lived in the desert, nonetheless we must always hold onto the Torah. Whatever mundane activity we engage ourselves in, even exercise, the intention should be in order for us to serve Hashem better. When we go for vacation it should not be to get away from Hashem like a child running away, rather with the intention to invigorate ourselves and return refreshed. With this in mind a person can be connected to Torah his entire life, no matter what he is doing.

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