Parshas Beha'aloscha:
A Restful Journey

Bnei Yisroel, the Jewish People  underwent numerous trials and tribulations while traveling through the wilderness for 40 years. In verse 8, we find how their itinerary was carried out. According to the word of HaShem would the children of Israel journey, and according to the word of HaShem would they encamp; all the days that the cloud would rest upon the Tabernacle they would encamp

Their travel schedule was based on the location of the cloud. Regardless of the safety or comfort of any given location the determinate, as we see from the quoted verses and those surrounding it, was the placement of the cloud.

Imagine what it must have been like to get to a destination and not know how long your stay would be. It could be hours, days or months. Do you unload? Should you unpack? Should you just refresh yourself and be prepared to move on? These are questions Bnei Yisroel had to ask daily in the wilderness Would you consider this type of a trip restful or unsettling? For most of us routine keeps us on track. Knowing some framework of the future helps us grow and function. Stability allows us to focus better on our goals and tasks. It is logical that while encamped Bnei Yisroel felt restful but how do we know they felt that way while on the road? Furthermore, were all of the rest stops in local Holiday Inns? Were they always so comfortable? We learn from the Sforno that there where many situations where Bnei Yisroel might not have felt so cozy. They sometimes stopped in dangerous areas or places with a rough terrain. The schedule was erratic at best. They never knew the duration of a rest stop nor how long they would be on the road.

Nonetheless, the erratic travel plans didn’t faze Bnei Yisroel in the wilderness. Rav Henoch Leibowitz, Rosh HaYeshiva of Yeshivas Chofetz Chaim, explains how we know Bnei Yisroel felt sheltered and protected, without regard for the physical environment they were in. We see from the verse - according to the word of HaShem would they encamp if you follow the directions of HaShem with perfect trust then the emotions of being "settled" or "unsettled" don’t apply. One realizes that the best thing all around is to follow HaShem’s will. Most of us become anxious prior to a big event (and moving a nation even a small distance is, understandably, no small order). At no point, however, did Bnei Yisroel complain or move on their own to find a more desirous location.

We see another such example from the Alter of Slobodka, Rav Nosson Tzvi Finkel, zt"l. He explains that when the Torah tells us our forefather Avraham awakened the morning of Akeidas YitzchakAnd Avraham rose early in the morning it is telling us that he had slept peacefully the night before. The time for expedience hadn’t yet come so our forefather Avraham was able to sleep peacefully having trust that what ever will transpire in the morning is HaShem’s will and will turn out for the best.

Here too we see when one has full trust in HaShem, both the al pi HaShem Yachanoo and the al pi Hashem Yisu'oo are tranquil.

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