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   by Jacob Solomon

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The Parasha, the long description of the building of the Tabernacle, and the entire Book of Exodus finish with:

The cloud (of G-d's Presence) covered the Tent of Meeting. The Glory of G-d filled the Tabernacle… The Israelites would travel when the cloud was raised up from the Tabernacle… But… they would not depart until the day it rose up (40:34-37).

Later on (Num. 9:15-23), the Torah narrates at length the procedure through which G-d communicated His Marching Orders to the Israelites in the desert - by means of the cloud by day, and the fire by night.

What place do the travel arrangements of the Israelites have here, as conclusion material to the building of the Tabernacle and indeed, to the entire Book of Exodus?

As a response, the Ramban (in his introduction to the Book of Exodus) observes that the entire Book is the story of the first Divinely-ordained national exile, and redemption from it. Even after departing from Egypt, they were still in foreign territory in the wilderness. But when they reached Mount Sinai, and built the Tabernacle, G-d returned and rested His Presence among them. They became close to Him, as had been their patriarchal forefathers Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. It was at that point that the Israelites were indeed a redeemed nation. Indeed, the Book of Exodus is sometimes referred to as Sefer Geula - the Book of Redemption.

What is significantly important is that these events took place outside the Promised Land. It was not the Promised Land that redeemed them, but the reverse. The reality was that they arrived there as a redeemed people.

This observation is vital, as it constitutes a very important link in the chain of the spiritual development of the Israelite, and later the Jewish People. It has been pointed out that there were four great formative 'watershed' periods: under Abraham, under Moses, during the century following the Destruction of the First Temple, and in the exile from Jerusalem to Yavneh and then beyond, following the Destruction of the Second Temple. None of the shaping events took place when the Israel were in the Holy Land under their own rule… Indeed, the Rabbis place a much greater emphasis on the reconstruction of the work of Sanhedrin on its exile from Jerusalem to Yavneh, than the Zealots' last stand against the Romans at Masada taking place at the same time.

That teaches us that Israel has a vital, but not exclusive part in the sacred traditions and directions for life for the Jewish People. For it is not just the place that contains the holiness, but it is the people bring holiness with them wherever they are. 'Wherever I let My Name be mentioned, I will come to you and bless you' (Ex. 20:21).

For those looking for more comprehensive material, questions and answers on the Parasha may be found at and on the material on the Haftara at .

Written by Jacob Solomon. Tel 02 673 7998. E-mail: for any points you wish to raise and/or to join those that receive this Parasha sheet every week.

Parashiot from the First, Second, and Third Series may be viewed on the Shema Yisrael web-site:

Also by Jacob Solomon:
From the Prophets on the Haftara

Test Yourself - Questions and Answers


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