How do we understand the sequence of Parshat Be’haalotcha being read the first Shabbot (in Israel) after Matan Torah?
Most of the parsha can be divided into three parts which can be categorized as preparing to leave Har Sinai, leaving, and the outcome of leaving. The three parts can be summarized into one heading, “Leaving Har Sinai” or in the Torah’s precise language “ויהי בנסע ארון”.
What does it mean to leave Har Sinai? What is the significance of this pinnacle moment, which Chaza”l classify as a book onto itself, of arising and journeying onward in the midbar?
The Ramban famously teaches us (Parshat Teruma), that there is a very careful development from Har Sinai to the Mishkan and into the midbar. Revelation was and is the zenith of Jewish and world history. It contains within it the basis for all of Torah and all of reality. Bnai Yisrael was then given the mission to take this maamad hagadol or momentous event and put it into a Mishkan. The spiritual form Bnai Yisrael saw on the mountain was to be converted into a Tabernacle in which the Divine Presence rested among them. Stage three was to take the Mishkan with them as they journeyed into the desert on the way to Eretz Yisrael. Parshiot Yitro, Teruma and Be’haalotcha are three very deliberate yet interconnected stages in one process.
The midrash in Shmot Rabba (33:1) brings the pasuk from Mishlai “כי לקח טוב נתתי לכם תורתי אל תעזובו”. The midrash instructs us that after Har Sinia, “The ‘merchandise’ that I have given you do not leave it.” How do we avoid abandoning the precious “merchandise” that we have been given? Interestingly, in answering this question the midrash interchanges between the Mishkan and Torah. After Har Sinia and Revelation, both the Mishkan and the Torah are our means to stay strongly connected to Har Sinia.
As we start traveling into the summer months ahead, after Matan Torah and Shavuot, with our Mishkan and the building/growth that we did during Sfirat Ha’Omer, the message of Parshat Be’haalotcha is to take the Torah with us.
During the Chag, I heard a beautiful and relevant mashal from our Yom Tov guests about Matan Torah. At a wedding, everyone knows who the Kallah is. She and no one else is wearing a wedding gown. Only a fool is unaware of which of the young ladies is getting married this day. On the other hand, it is very easy to be mixed up about the chasan. The wedding planners have to pin a little white rose on the suite of the chasan so guests of the Kallah know who the lucky one is. In Israel, it’s actually a bit easier. The only guy without the suit and tie is most probably the chasan. Indeed, it is not always clear to all who is chassan. So how do we know? The Chassan is none other than the one that takes that Kallah home after the wedding.
May we be among those that take our Kallah home after the big celebration.