Beha'aloscha: Army Ready
By Harav Yonah Burr
על פי ד' יסעו בני ישראל ועל פי ד' יחנו כל ימי אשר ישכן הענן על המשכן יחנו By the word of Hashem Bnei Yisroel would travel, and by the word of Hashem they would camp; all the days that the cloud would rest on the Mishkan, they would camp.
The Ramban describes the strange itinerary of the Jewish People: "There were times when the cloud would extend their stay for many days. Although the people would have preferred to travel, they would not violate the will of Hashem. Other times, the cloud would only stay for two or three days, and the people would still be weary from travel and the travails of the road. Nevertheless, they would travel. The Torah further relates that there were times that they would only stay overnight and travel the next morning even though this proved very difficult for them. It also happened that the cloud would rest for two days, and then make them travel. This proved even more difficult, for the people had already unpacked and were forced to travel again."
What was the reason behind this seemingly haphazard system?
The Mesilas Yesharim explains that part of being a servant of Hashem is being ready -- always on call -- to fulfill His will. When we get too complacent with our "creature comforts", it can be difficult to pull ourselves away to go to shul or keep our fixed times for learning. We should keep the image of a soldier in mind: someone always on the ready, prepared to obey any order from the Commander-in-Chief.
The experience in the desert was meant to instill in the Jewish people this very lesson. We always must be ready, on the go, in our spiritual growth. Hashem kept us ‘on the go’ in order to teach us what He expects from us.
Rav Yeruchem from the Mir adds that our enthusiasm for Yiddishkeit is what actually determines our ‘readiness’. Do we really appreciate the special opportunities we have as servants of Hashem? Do we find doing a mitzvah to be a burden -- or an opportunity for growth? Just as no one would tire if they were given the chance to collect precious gold and jewels for two full days, let us remember that we are given an even greater opportunity to collect precious mitzvos and Torah learning whenever we can!
Have a wonderful Shabbos!