Behalotechah - Overcoming Tests

On the day the Mishkan was erected, the cloud covered the Mishkan, which was a tent for the Testimony, and at evening, there was over the Mishkan like an appearance of fire, [which remained] until morning.
So it was always, the cloud covered it and there was an appearance of fire at night.
and according to the cloud's departure from over the Tent, and afterwards, the children of Israel would travel, and in the place where the cloud settled, there the children of Israel would encamp.

וּבְיוֹם הָקִים אֶת הַמִּשְׁכָּן כִּסָּה הֶעָנָן אֶת הַמִּשְׁכָּן לְאֹהֶל הָעֵדֻת וּבָעֶרֶב יִהְיֶה עַל הַמִּשְׁכָּן כְּמַרְאֵה אֵשׁ עַד בֹּקֶר
כֵּן יִהְיֶה תָמִיד הֶעָנָן יְכַסֶּנּוּ וּמַרְאֵה אֵשׁ לָיְלָה
וּלְפִי הֵעָלוֹת הֶעָנָן מֵעַל הָאֹהֶל וְאַחֲרֵי כֵן יִסְעוּ בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל וּבִמְקוֹם אֲשֶׁר יִשְׁכָּן שָׁם הֶעָנָן שָׁם יַחֲנוּ בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל
Bamidbar 9:15-17

Asks the Slonimer Rebbe, the Torah is eternal and imparts deep messages, so what is the eternal message from this passage about a seeming set time in Jewish history?

Mishkan Within
The Slonimer Rebbe answers this by saying we all have a Mishkan, a holy dwelling place for Hashem, within ourselves. As it says in the Torah, "ועשו לי מקדש ושכנתי בתוכם" - Make me a Holy Place and I shall rest amongst them. It says "בתוכם" (them) not "בתוכו" (it), suggesting that Hashem didn't mean His holy resting place was merely the Mishkan (or later the Beit HaMikdash) but a holy resting place in each and every one of us.

This is further supported in our verse "וּבְיוֹם הָקִים אֶת הַמִּשְׁכָּן" (On the day the Mishkan was erected). It doesn't specify who erected the Mishkan, like saying "On the day that Moshe erected the Mishkan", rather the verse leaves that aspect open, to fit in with the notion each and every one of us must erect our own personal Mishkan.

Clouds of Unknown
The verse continues and we can expand on this thought, stating "the cloud covered the Mishkan". Clouds symbolize a haziness that covers our vision, making every step unknown and mysterious. This characterizes  our daily life where we constantly bombarded by messages and enticements that often have a concealed agenda that can undermine our spiritual life.

Fire of Desire
The verse expands further upon this concept, with "and at evening, there was over the Mishkan like an appearance of fire".  Fire symbolizes the yetzer hara (the evil inclination) that drives and consumes us. The nighttime is when we are particularly vulnerable to the lure of the yetzer hara, when under darkness we can be drawn in.

Travel Higher
This depicts our ongoing struggle, constantly confronted, day and night, by tests and challenges. Nevertheless the verse continues, saying "according to the cloud's departure from over the Tent, and afterwards, the children of Israel would travel".

As we are confronted by these challenges and overcome we 'travel', going higher and higher. This depicts the fulfillment of our journey, not just facing tests, but 'traveling' and growing closer in our relationship to Hashem.

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