In the Limelight

Adar (2) 1, 5782
March 4, 2022
Candlelighting Time 5:37 PM

            The last verse in sefer Shemos mentions that the clouds that encompassed the camp were there all day and all night and were witnessed by the nation on all of their travels. Rashi cryptically explains that the encampments of the people were referred to as their traveling’s because they stopped based upon the command of Hashem between each travel. It seems interesting to denote the intervals between their traveling’s as their actual travel time. Netziv rather understands that the Torah is describing the incredibly close relationship between Hashem and our nation. Although we had constructed the Golden Calf, a tremendous fiasco that is remembered for all time, nonetheless, Hashem still pulls us close to Him as though we had never sinned! This would appear rather counterintuitive, so how can we explain it?

            The Talmud states that the nation in the desert should not have faltered and made the Golden Calf. Maharsha explains that their fear of Heaven was so great it should have shielded them from their miscalculation. However, Hashem did not afford them that degree of protection that normally would have been the situation. Our need to witness a generation of such magnitude had returned to Hashem after their error was so inspiring that it has enlightened the nation of the importance of repentance. In other words, certainly a grave sin was perpetrated by the people of that generation, however, the loss of their status on account of that debacle was recouped when they repented for that sin.

            S’fas Emes adds that the Mishkan was referred to as the depository of corroboration that Hashem had forgiven us for the Golden Calf disaster. He questions why there was such a need, after all, the Jewish nation was created because we inherently bear witness to Hashem’s existence. Nonetheless, we must concede that we sinned, yet Hashem viewed that calamity as an anomaly rather than a definitive act. Of course, repentance was required because indeed we did veer away from our trust and belief in Hashem, still the return of the Divine Presence to reside in the Mishkan certainly assured us that we had regained our original status as the primary nation closest to Hashem. And that is precisely the intent of the Talmudic dictum that even when we deviate from our mission, we must always realize that Hashem’s hand is outstretched to receive our return whatever iniquity we may have perpetrated.

            Perhaps Rashi alludes to this when he explains that the resting intervals are called travelings. When we are in motion, struggling to perform Hashem’s will, there may inevitably be mistakes that occur. However, when we rest, to take stock of our relationship with Hashem and examine what we have done and also not accomplished to the fullest, then we can travel further fully aware of what we need to rectify and improve upon in the future.

            Tzror Hamor cites the Midrash that the nation was trembling after they realized the travesty they had done with the Golden Calf. However, when they beheld the return of special clouds that Hashem had sent to guide them in the desert they rejoiced, understanding that this was a clear indication of the resumption of their previous proximity to Hashem. And so it is in all generations, when we err, clearly a human frailty, the road back is always available, and we must strive to select that option and return to Hashem.


The supports for the walls of the Mishkan were built from the donations of the entire nation. Hashem desired that we should all have a portion in the residence of the Divine Presence. And so, it is with those who support Torah, they are partners in the merit of the Torah study of those scholars that toil over the Torah day and night.

                                                      GOOD SHABBOS