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Parsha Beha'aloscha

06/20/2019 08:13:33 PM


The Torah is comprised of many "sections" or paragraphs that have an allotted blank space in the Torah scroll both before and after the portion.  The smallest section from the whole Torah is found in this week's Parsha- the section of "Vayihi binsoa ha'aron" that contains a mere 85 letters.  Parenthetically presented, this section describes that when the nation would travel the Aron would lead them and Moshe would declare that God should thwart off all potential peril and enemies from the people.  The Talmud says that the placement of this section is somewhat deceiving, as it should have been discussed previously when the Torah describes the nation traveling.  It was intentionally inserted here, however, to "interrupt" and break up the topics of sin and punishment that the Jews underwent in this week's Parsha.  The young nation fled from Mt. Sinai as a child runs from school, they began seeking pretexts to complain about, and they ultimately whined and complained about the lack of meat in the desert.  As such, this small parenthetical insertion disrupts the flow of discussion of sin and speaks in more positive terms.

There are two themes discussed by the commentators to explain the purpose and meaning of having disruption in the middle of the flow of sin.  Cited by Rashi in various places, Chazal say that God did not teach of all the Torah to Moshe in one setting, but he rather taught Torah in increments and gave Moshe time to reflect and digest each part.  This becomes not only a paradigm in the classroom setting from an educational perspective, but also a paradigm for all of what transpires to us in life.  As fallible human beings, we need to reflect on how we act, how we feel others relating to us, and how we find God relating to us.  Without the breakup of increments or the classification of specific events, it becomes impossible to honestly reflect on one's situation.  Each sin that the Jews committed had its specific cause and effect for how God measured out a proper and commensurate punishment that had a specific lesson to be taught.  We need to view each of our sins and punishments in their own light to avoid becoming overwhelmed by too many things happening to miss the point of each lesson from God.

Another theme discussed is that the section of "Vayihi Binsoa ha'aron" is meant to be a motivational force within the flow and sadness that sin can cause.  The salient point of the section is that we travel together with God, hand in hand, and that his presence, whether we find it to be impalpable or palpable, is very much a part of who we are and how we should identify with ourselves.  Even after a person sins, the Godly spirit is not lost and the sin does not change that innate beautiful sublime spark.  The point of the Torah is not to feel overwhelmed in the sea of sin and evil and feel as if sin is just inevitable and a sad part of who we are.  Disrupting the "current" of transgression, this small section can be a constant inspiration for a person specifically after the fall of sin. Moreover, it is inspiring for a person in reflecting on many sins together, to help in perceiving them not as one big stamp and label of "bad" for who we are, but rather as individual mistakes that did penetrate our core essence of spirituality.

These two themes speak to very different sides and emotions inside us, and yet are inextricably bound in functioning together.  It is important that we reflect on our shortcomings to honestly face them and learn from them, and yet it is also important that our self-perception is not shaped too strongly from this process and that we remain confident with our innate greatness.  A strong factor in why we don't face our sins and dark past, reflection on sin can just be too painful and confusing for us.  It is just too painful to revisit places that hurt the way we think about ourselves.  We need the second theme first to instill an attitude that despite what we do, we are still holy in a sense, and we have not tainted the purest sense of who we are.  With that perspective, we can move to the first theme and reflect on our sins each in their own personal light and glean the appropriate message from them.  There is a famous Chassidishe saying that plays on the words for the order of the seder on Pesach that goes "Kadesh, Urchatz."  First we have to feel "Kadesh"- that we are good and holy people, then we can feel "urchatz"- that we have the desire and will to cleanse ourselves and become better from a dark past.  This order is vital in insuring that we have the healthy perspectives of sin and that we utilize past sins in the proper way to gain what we can from their messages.



Wed, May 29 2024 21 Iyyar 5784