Shabbat Parashat B'haalotcha 5773
Parashat Hashavua: Wandering … Without the ArkHarav Shaul Yisraeli – based on Siach Shaul, pp. 373-4 (an address from 1940)
“The ark of the covenant of Hashem was traveling before them a three days’ path to set for them a resting place. And the divine cloud was upon them during the day when they travelled from the encampment” (Bamidbar 10:33-34).
A nation wandered in a barren land, with hot sand beneath them and a hot sun above, searching for a land to arrive at. They had thrown off their bonds of slavery but were looking for an independent life of freedom. What was leading them, preparing the path for them and warding off their enemies? The ark and the divine clouds. Flashes of fire came out from between the staves of the ark, burning snakes and scorpions; the clouds straightened the path (Devarim Rabba 7:9).9)e out from between the staves of the ark and burnt snakes and scorpions and the clouds straightened the path (Devarim Rabba 7 The people were drawing closer to entry into the Land.
We find later on (Bamidbar 14 – next parasha) that the people were still excited about the idea of entering the Land. They wanted to go up and enter the Land, willing to sacrifice their lives for the dream of their homeland. Yet, the Amalekites and Canaanites came and destroyed the pioneer group (ibid. 45). Why were they not successful? Since the ark did not go along with them (ibid. 44), what happened was not a surprise.
These days also, the Jewish nation is wandering in the wilderness of the nations, without a clear path, seeking the Land where the cloud will enable them to have a proper encampment. However, they are exposed to different clouds, not those that straighten a path but cast fog over it. There are once again masses of Jews with walking sticks in hand and a questioning look of “to where” in their eyes. The most powerful state in the world has proclaimed war on them, and we would like to stand up and battle them. We proclaim: “We are ready to go up to the Land and sacrifice our lives for it.” However, that is a dangerous step, and the question remains whether our fate will be like those who tried to go up to the Land from the desert and were destroyed.
The same guideline should be before us now as then. As long as the ark of the covenant is with us, we should feel confident that we will be brought to a place of rest. Operatively, that means that we must keep our part of the covenant. We have two covenants: the old one stemming from
Tragically, we do not see the force that can bring us the salvation we need. We are not carrying the ark of the covenant. The calls to fight do not include the Name of Hashem, and martyrs are mentioned without invoking His Name. Most of us “kick the ark.” At times like this, we have a special obligation to influence them. We are used to blaming those who desecrate Shabbat and other commandments and thereby defile the Land. However, we must remember that there are those who carry the ark. We need to know how to carry it before the nation and return it to its proper station. “The ark carries those who carry it.”
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Rabanit Itah bat Chana
amongst the sick
of Klal Yisrael
This edition of
Yechezkel Shraga Brachfeld
is endowed by
Les & Ethel Sutker
Louis and Lillian Klein, z”l
Dedicated in memory of
ben R'Aharon Yitzhak and Bracha
on the occasion of his yahrzeit,
and members of his family
who perished in the shoah
Al Kiddush Hashem.