Torah Fax
Friday, June 1, 2007 - 15 Sivan, 5767

Torah Reading: Beha’alotecha (Numbers 8:1 - 12:16)
Candle Lighting: 8:02 PM
Shabbat ends: 9:12 PM
Pirkei Avot Chapter 2

G‑d, Moses and the Trumpets

One of the many themes in this week's parsha of Beha'alotecha is the commandment given to Moses to fashion silver trumpets. One of the functions of the trumpets was to announce that is was time to travel.
Rashi states that the journeying of the children of Israel depended on three things: G‑d, Moses and the trumpets. The Midrash clarifies the role of these three. G‑d, by positioning the special Cloud into a pillar above the tribe of Judah, indicated that they were to prepare to travel. Moses then would tell the Jews in the evening to prepare for their journey the next morning. And finally when they heard the sounding of the trumpets they started to travel.
What is the significance of these three influences in the journeying of the Jewish people in the desert and how can it be applied to our own journey through life?
On one level, our life's journey is mapped out by G‑d. The Psalmist declares: "Man's footsteps are determined by G‑d." Wherever we go and wherever we end up in life is part of G‑d's Divine Providence.
There is a well-known story of a famous rabbi who was greeted by a powerful nobleman as he was walking down the street. "Where are you going," the nobleman asked the rabbi. "I have no idea," was the rabbi's curt reply. The nobleman was enraged at the rabbi's evasive answer and had him thrown into prison. However, the nobleman was curious to know why the rabbi refused to divulge where he was going and decided to visit him in prison. "Why didn't you tell me where you were going?" the nobleman asked the rabbi. To which the rabbi replied, "If you would have asked me where I was planning to go, I could have told you. But, when you asked me where, in fact, I was going, I truly had no idea. Did I anticipate that I would end up in jail?"
Lest one should think that since G‑d determines where we end up, there is no need to seek guidance as to where we should go, the Torah informs us otherwise. We must consult Moses, or the Moses and spiritual leader of each generation, where to go. More precisely, the spiritual guides are there to prepare us for our journey, telling us when and how we should travel.
And finally, there are times when the Moses of the generation asks the Kohanim, or his emissaries, to sound the trumpets to inspire them to take the first step in the right direction.
In other words, we should realize that our lives are in G‑d's hands, and that ultimately, G‑d guides our footsteps. Moreover, we must realize that we depend on our spiritual mentors for specific guidance and that we must become the trumpeters that bring their message to the entire world community.
From the day we received the Torah at Mount Sinai, over 3,300 years ago, G‑d has told us in general terms where we are to go. Our destination is the Land of Israel, where we would implement all of G‑d's teachings in our lives.
Had we, as a nation, heeded G‑d's commands as we made Israel our home, that would have been the final destination; the Messianic Age. But, alas, we were compelled to make that trip to Israel following a circuitous route. First we would go to Babylonia and Persia , as a prelude to our return to the Land of Israel  to build the second Temple.
And yet again, had we as a nation learned our lesson, the second Temple era could have evolved into the age of utopia. But alas, that was not to be. We were forced to pack our proverbial bags and wander through the Diaspora for close to two-thousand years. But we know that our destination has not changed. Our journey in exile is intended to get us to return to the Land of Israel not just in the physical sense, but in the spiritual sense as well. This means that we are to realize what the Land of Israel represents.
First, we must recognize that the Land of Israel is G‑d's special gift to the Jewish people. It is not ours to give away. Going to Israel for the purpose of giving it away to others is not why we traveled this long arduous journey through history.
But Israel is not just a geographic experience. It is also a mindset. A mindset that encourages us to conform to G‑d's will. Indeed, the phrase " Land of Israel" can be translated as "the land that expresses its desire to follow G‑d's will."
We must also recognize that the end of our journey is the complete Redemption of the Jewish people and peace for the entire world.
These are the general directions that G‑d has set up for us throughout history. G‑d has also sent us sensitive spiritual leaders who pick up these signals and tell us what they mean. Throughout the past century the greatest Jewish spiritual leaders have told us that we are living in the Biblically predicted "end days" that are characterized by the Talmud as the "Heels of Moshiach." In the last few decades the tempo has increased with the Lubavitcher Rebbe's declaration that the "time of the Redemption has arrived," meaning that we are in the most fitting time for us to end our journey. 

But these leaders also tell us how we are to prepare for the last leg of the journey. They sound the "trumpets" to awaken us from our exile-induced reverie. Some of the historical clarion calls heard a little over a decade ago by the Rebbe include:   

“Learn Torah,” specifically the teachings of the Torah concerning Moshiach; "Open our eyes" to see the new reality in the world around us and "Prepare ourselves to welcome Moshiach." We prepare for Moshiach by doing more acts of goodness and kindness, and more specifically by a more meticulous devotion to all the obligations we have as Jews.  

Moshiach Matters

A man is not near so thirsty when in a populated area as he is when in a dry desert. It is likewise in the time of exile, when G‑d's presence is obscured, and when materiality is at its coarsest, that a man longs most intensely to serve his Creator. As David HaMelech writes, "My soul thirsts for You, my flesh yearns for You, in a parched and weary land without water."
Sefer HaMaamarim 5700 [1940], p. 11
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