This week's parsha
Unless otherwise noted, "This week's Parsha" comprises articles taken from contributors to the Chabad.org website. We show the original author's name here, so that proper attribution is given. For the sake of brevity, footnotes cited in the original author's writings are omitted from this website. If you need to see the citations, please refer to the original articles on the Chabad.org website.
From Despair to Hope
There have been times when one passage in today’s parsha was for me little less than life-saving. No leadership position is easy. Leading Jews is harder still. And spiritual leadership can be hardest of them all. Leaders have a public face that is usually calm, upbeat, optimistic and relaxed. But behind the façade we can all experience storms of emotion as we realize how deep are the divisions between people, how intractable are the problems we face, and how thin the ice on which we stand. Perhaps we all experience such moments at some point in our lives, when we know where we are and where we want to be, but simply cannot see a route from here to there. That is the prelude to despair.
An ancient Jewish theme is the idea of one person blessing another. Everyone has the power of blessing to a certain extent, but some people have it to a greater degree. The person giving the blessing is calling on G‑d to help a particular individual, to pour on him or her Divine bounty and goodness.
Near the beginning of the Torah, G‑d told Abraham "You will be a blessing… through you will be blessed all families of the earth." G‑d was hereby granting Abraham the power of blessing. Much of the Torah concerns blessings from one person to another, such as the blessings of Isaac and later of Jacob. Indeed, every parent has a special power to bless his or her children.
They traveled together, a single mass of two million people moving slowly through the sands. Each tribe precisely positioned, each group in perfect formation, their footprints marking the desert.
At the center of this great mass was the Tabernacle, the holy house of G‑d. Immediately surrounding the Tabernacle was the tribe of Levi: Moses, Aaron, and their immediate families to the east; the Gershon family to the west; the Kehat family to the south; and the Merari family to the north.
Arrayed around these four families were the remaining twelve tribes of Israel. Three tribes to the east, three to the west, three to the north and three to the south.