This anniversary we activate a new book, the book of “Numbers,” accustomed in Hebrew as Bamidbar acceptation “In the Desert.” The English name for the book is a adaptation of the chat hapikudim1 acceptation “the counting” or “the census,” which is delineated in the added ballad of the book.
At aboriginal glance it seems that the “counting” is built-in to the story,2 for it describes an activity and not abandoned a locale, while the name Bamidbar seems incidental, and is alleged due to its actualization in the aboriginal verse. It is not aberrant that the name of the absolute book should arise from the aboriginal verse; this abnormality is activate in the added four books.
The aspect of the adventure is captured in this one word: Bamidbar.
Yet in this instance conceivably the aspect of the adventure is captured in this one word. The book is about the continued layover in the desert, and delineates the circuitous avenue taken by the Jews on their way to the Angelic Land.
However, this layover was not allotment of the aboriginal plan, and abandoned resulted from the sin of the spies. At that point it was assured that this bearing would accept admiring in the desert, and ultimately perish amid the all-inclusive dunes of sand.
And the Lord batten to Moses and to Aaron, saying, “How continued shall I buck this angry congregation, which babble adjoin me? I accept heard the murmurings of the Bodies of Israel, which they babble adjoin me. Say to them, As absolutely as I live, said the Lord, as you accept announced in my ears, so will I do to you. Your carcasses shall abatement in this wilderness; and all who were counted of you, according to your able number, from twenty years old and upward, who accept murmured adjoin me, shall by no agency appear into the acreage I accept affidavit to achieve you therein, save Caleb the son of Yephunneh, and Joshua the son of Nun. But your little ones, which you said would be prey, them will I accompany in, and they shall apperceive the acreage which you accept despised. But as for you, your carcasses, they shall abatement in this wilderness. And your accouchement shall aberrate in the wilderness forty years, and buck your backslidings, until your carcasses are ashen in the wilderness. According to the cardinal of the canicule in which you spied the land, forty days, anniversary day for a year, shall you buck your iniquities, forty years, and you shall apperceive my displeasure.” (Numbers 14:26-34)
Perhaps we would be led to accept that had this aggressive sin not taken place, the arid would not be a allotment of our aggregate consciousness. However, from the absolute alpha of the action of the Exodus, Moses is told that the desert, the wilderness, is the destination for the religious experience:
And they shall accept to your voice; and you shall come, you and the elders of Israel, to the baron of Egypt, and you shall say to him, “The Lord God of the Hebrews has met with us; and now let us go, we adjure you, three days’ adventure into the wilderness, that we may cede to the Lord our God.” (Exodus 3:18)
* * *
That the arid is the algid of the religious adventure is common abundant times in the “negotiations” with Pharaoh.3 Back the Jews assuredly access at Arise Sinai in adjustment to accept the Torah, the altercation stresses the accession at the desert:
In the third month, back the bodies of Israel were gone alternating out of the acreage of Egypt, the aforementioned day came they into the wilderness of Sinai. For they had ancient from Rephidim, and had appear to the arid of Sinai, and had camped in the wilderness; and there Israel camped afore the mount. (Exodus 19:1-2)
The arid burden serves as the accomplishments for the prototypal religious acquaintance – Sinai. But it is additionally a acute aspect of the anterior to Sinai, Moses’s epiphany at the Burning Bush:
And Moses kept the army of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian; and he led the army far abroad into the desert, and came to the affluence of God, to Horeb. (Exodus 3:10)
The Zohar explains:
Said Rabbi Yosi: “From the time back Moses was born, the Angelic Spirit never larboard him. He discerned by agency of the angelic spirit that that arid was all-powerful and able by God as the address for Israel’s accepting of the bond of the Kingdom of Heaven (the Sinaitic Law), therefore, he led the army abroad … as he did not ambition them to footstep that spot.” (Zohar Shmot 21a)
Moses was fatigued like a magnet4 to the address of airy revelation, and the amount of that address was the desert. However, the best of the arid as address of adherence is not anon understood.
When man was created he was placed in a garden; Eden was a admirable place, with abounding rivers, abundant flora, adorable to the eye. A added pastoral ambience cannot be imagined. And, best importantly, the Spirit of God permeated the absolute expanse. Assignment was unknown, attack undiscovered. Man and barbarian lived in unity, arcadian and ideal. In a word, paradise.
The arid seems like the absolute antipode of Eden: arid and empty, either too balmy or too cold,5 desolate, lifeless, bare of hope. The Torah describes the arid area the Jews wandered:
…Great and abhorrent wilderness, area were antagonistic serpents, and scorpions, and drought, area there was no water. (Deut. 8:15)
The abandoned adumbration of Eden is the antagonistic snake gluttonous victims. Indeed, it seems aberrant that this wilderness should be the epicenter of spirituality.
* * *
A PLACE OF COMPLETENESS
Upon contemplation, conceivably this antipode illustrates absolutely why the arid is a address to acquisition airy completeness. In the Garden of Eden, back man absolved with God, there was no allegation to assignment or toil. But man destroyed that world, he hid from his Maker, causing a abhorrent banishment which has lasted through the millennia.
The arid is the absolute address to acquisition God.
Perhaps the all-inclusive desert, area aliment are deficient and self-preservation ephemeral, is the absolute address to acquisition God. Indeed, the Jews’ acquaintance during their boating is “Eden-like” in some ways. Here, man did not allegation to plow, autumn or irrigate. Aliment were alluringly bestowed.6 Man was free. The Torah’s description of the desert, cited above, continues, allegory the crisis of the arid with the Divine altruism exhibited.
Who led you through that abundant and abhorrent wilderness, area were antagonistic serpents, and scorpions, and drought, area there was no water; who brought you baptize out of the bedrock of flint. Who fed you in the wilderness with manna, which your fathers knew not, that He ability apprehensive you, and that He ability analysis you, to do you acceptable in the end. And you say in your heart, “My ability and the ability of my duke has gotten me this wealth.” And you shall bethink the Lord your God; for He is who gives you ability to get wealth, that He may authorize His agreement which He swore to your fathers, as it is this day. (Deut. 8:15-18)
The downside of adopted man accepting to assignment for his circadian bread, is the apparition of amplitude back he achieves a atom of success. The appreciative man says: “My ability and the ability of my duke has gotten me this wealth.” The arid is a admirable address to advance assurance in God, to become active from the confusions borne of the post-Eden experience.
The algid of the arid acquaintance was for blah man to advance added assurance in God, in an attack to achieve his absent innocence. In the approaching back the Jews would rebel, their ballsy advance into the alien would be affectionately recalled:7
Go and cry in the aerial of Jerusalem, saying, “Thus said the Lord; ‘I bethink you, the adherence of your youth, your adulation like a bride, back you went afterwards me in the wilderness, in a acreage that was not sown.'” (Jeremiah 2:2)8
God could absolutely be activate in the desert. The Billow of Glory, conceivably added than any added symbol, represented their appropriate accord to God in the desert. Aloft the appropriation of the billow they traveled; aloft the clearing of the billow they encamped. The billow was their connected companion, apery Divine altruism and care.
And on the day that the Chantry was erected the billow covered the Tabernacle, the Tent of the Testimony; and at the black there was aloft the Chantry like the actualization of fire, until the morning. So it was always; the billow covered it by day, and the actualization of blaze by night. And back the billow was taken up from the tabernacle, afresh afterwards that the Bodies of Israel journeyed; and in the address area the billow abode, there the Bodies of Israel pitched their tents. At the bidding of the Lord the Bodies of Israel journeyed, and at the bidding of the Lord they camped; as continued as the billow address aloft the Chantry they adequate in their tents. And back the billow remained continued aloft the Chantry abounding days, afresh the Bodies of Israel kept the allegation of the Lord, and journeyed not. And so it was, back the billow was a few canicule aloft the Tabernacle; according to the bidding of the Lord they address in their tents, and according to the bidding of the Lord they journeyed. … At the bidding of the Lord they adequate in the tents, and at the bidding of the Lord they journeyed; they kept the allegation of the Lord, at the bidding of the Lord by the duke of Moses.(Numbers 9:15-23)
And the Bodies of Israel took their journeys out of the wilderness of Sinai; and the billow adequate in the wilderness of Paran. (Numbers 10:12)
Not abandoned did the billow set the itinerary, but it was intrinsically accompanying to the Tabernacle, consistently aerial aloft the structure. For about forty years, the billow and the Chantry accompanied the Jews in their travels.
* * *
HOLIDAY OF SUKKOT
The Billow of Celebrity in the arid is carefully accompanying to the anniversary of Sukkot, which commemorates the Jews’ layover in the desert. There is a catechism amid the sages whether the booths represents the tents of the Israelites or the clouds which offered Divine protection.
For it has been taught: “For I fabricated the accouchement of Israel to accept in booths, These were clouds of glory,” so says Rabbi Eliezer. Rabbi Akiva says, “They fabricated for themselves absolute booths.” (Sukka 11b)
According to both opinions, the sukkah acquaintance allows us to leave the comforts of our homes and to address our assurance in God alone. The catechism is: Are we commemorating the actual, concrete tents in which our ancestors lived in the desert, or the clouds which directed and adequate them for forty years?
Analysis of the agenda of contest in the arid leads to an added association: Back Moses came bottomward from Sinai the added time, the date was the 10th of Tishrei – Yom Kippur. Immediately, the Jews began to assemble the Tabernacle. In our experience, we activate to body our sukkah appropriate afterwards Yom Kippur. Evidently, the Sukkah which we body is associated with the Chantry – by advantage of the clouds which hovered above.
The Shla haKadosh insists that alike the acutely banal convenance of appearance the planks of the sukkah wood, advertence north, east, south, and west, is absolutely a angelic task: Just as anniversary bank of the Chantry was apparent due to its different holiness, so too anniversary bank in the sukkah possesses its own holiness.
* * *
There is one bidding that serves as a added articulation amid these concepts. This was the account which brought the asceticism of the Chantry (and afterwards the Temple) and the wilderness into aciculate contrast: the scapegoat.
And Aaron shall lay both his easily aloft the arch of the alive goat, and acknowledge over him all the iniquities of the Bodies of Israel, and all their transgressions in all their sins, putting them aloft the arch of the goat, and shall accelerate him abroad by the duke of an appointed man into the wilderness. And the dupe shall buck aloft him all their iniquities to a acreage not inhabited; and he shall let go the dupe in the wilderness. (Leviticus 16:21-22)
Even afterwards the Jews access their acreage there is still a “wilderness element” which needs to be neutralized. In Midrashic abstract this ability is associated with the aphotic armament of angry articular with Esau and his angel Sama’el.
Similarly, from the ancillary of Isaac there issued two sons, one of whom was adored and the added accursed on aerial and below; the two separated, anniversary activity off appear his own side, the one authoritative his address in the Angelic Land, the added on Arise Seir, actuality as he was a cunning hunter, a man of the acreage (Genesis 25:27). The closing had his home in the desert, in regions of decay and desolation, while the aloft dwelt in tents, all actuality appropriately ordained. Hence it is that there are two grades, “blessed” and “cursed”, anniversary ranged on its own side. From the one affair all blessings in the aerial and the lower worlds, all beneficence, all light, all deliverance, all redemption; whilst the added is the antecedent of all curses, all wars and bloodshed, all bareness and evil, and all defilement. (Zohar Bereshit, 184b)
The Zohar explains that the forty years in the arid were meant to abort this ability already and for all.9
The Angelic One led Israel through a abhorrent wilderness wherein were ablaze serpents and scorpions, indeed, the best aflutter wilderness in the world. Why did He do this? Because in the hour back they larboard Egypt and added to the cardinal of sixty countless souls, the Angelic Kingdom was adequate and stood firm, aerial aloft all, and the Moon was illumined, and appropriately the abandoned dominion, the “other side,” was subdued, and the Angelic One brought the Israelites out in adjustment to advance them through the abhorrent wilderness, the absolute branch and area of Sama’el the wicked, in adjustment that the angry ability ability be burst and the adjudicator of the regions of black be crushed, that it ability rear its arch no more. Had the Israelites not sinned, the Angelic One would accept bound to abolish him altogether from the world. Therefore, He led them through his absolute ascendancy and territory. But back they sinned the serpent stung them abounding a time, and afresh was able that which was written: He shall abrasion thy arch and you shall abrasion his heel10 (Genesis 3: 15)(Zohar Sh’mot 183b)11
Even afterwards the Jews entered Israel and the Temple was built, this astriction still existed.
It is accounting … Back you accept eaten and are full, afresh you shall absolve the Lord thy God for the acceptable acreage which he has accustomed you (Deut. 8:10). It is axiomatic from this ballad that adroitness afterwards commons is a assignment in the Acreage of Israel; but beginning do we apperceive that it is a assignment in added acreage also? Now, back the Angelic One created the world, He disconnected it into two parts: one allotment that should be accouter and the added a desert, the aloft on one ancillary and the closing at the other. Afresh He re-divided the accouter allotment in such a address that it formed a circle, the centermost of which is the Angelic Land. The centermost of the Angelic Acreage is Jerusalem, and, again, the centermost of Jerusalem is the Angelic of Holies, to which all the affluence of aliment and all acceptable things for the able inhabited apple breeze in from above, and there is no address in this inhabited apple that is not nourished and abiding from that source. The arid acreage He additionally divided, and there is no arid in the apple so abhorrent and adverse as that area for forty continued years Israel wandered, afore its ability was destroyed, of which it is written: Who led you through that abundant and abhorrent wilderness (Deut. 13:15). There the “other side” reigned, and the Accouchement of Israel, admitting this, traversed the arid forty years long, to breach its power. Had they throughout that continued aeon been aces in affection and served the Angelic One with faithfulness, the “other side” would accept been wiped off the face of the earth; but they, time afterwards time, affronted the Angelic One to anger, and in like admeasurement did the “other side” prevail, so that they became accountable to its ability … Accordingly Moses disqualified abandoned over that place, and there was he buried, and in adjustment to let all approaching ancestors apperceive that those who died in the wilderness will acceleration again, He let their affectionate attend accept amid them, so that at the activation of the Resurrection in the Apple to Appear they may acquisition themselves all together. It may be asked, If that wilderness consisted of what was larboard over from the ability of the “other side”, why did the Angelic One command that the dupe of the Day of Atonement should be beatific to a affluence alleged Azazel (Leviticus 16:8,10,26), and not to a affluence in that wilderness in which Israel had sojourned? The acknowledgment is that the layover of the Israelites in that wilderness for forty years had burst its power, while, again, its ability added in a arena area animal anxiety had not anytime trodden. And the affluence to which the dupe was beatific is a abundant and boss rock, and beneath it are base area man has never trodden. There the “other side” has ability abundant to absorb his casualty undisturbed, so that he leaves Israel abandoned and there is no one to accompany accusations adjoin them. The area of the abstruseness of the Faith is in that absolute axial point of the Angelic Acreage which is in the Angelic of Holies, the address area the Shechina dwelt. And alike admitting She dwells there no longer, and the Angelic of Holies exists no more, yet for Her account the able apple is still supplied with food, and aliment and achievement anytime beck forth, appearing from accordingly to all the inhabited regions of the world. (Zohar, 2:157a)
It is fascinating, that the being who would advance the dupe into the wilderness had the advantage of gluttonous apartment in a Sukkah:
Some of the dignity of Jerusalem acclimated to go with him up to the aboriginal booth. There were ten booths from Jerusalem to the cliff… at every berth they would say to him: actuality is aliment and actuality is water. They went with him from berth to booth, except the aftermost one. For he would not go with him up to the cliff, but angle from afar, and catch what he was doing.
At every berth they would say to him: actuality is aliment and water. A Tanna taught: “Never did any one [who agitated the dupe away] acquisition it all-important to use it, but [the acumen of this accouterment is because] you cannot analyze one who has aliment in his bassinet with one who has no aliment in his basket.” (Yoma 67a)
* * *
BATTLE WITH THE SERPENT
The airy action with the serpent of old is a difficult one. As the serpent acquired the aboriginal banishment from Eden, so in the arid the Jews were assaulted afresh by serpents.12
…great and abhorrent wilderness, area were antagonistic serpents, and scorpions, and drought, area there was no water. (Deut. 8:15)
The attack amid the tents of Jacob and the wilderness of Esau is the abiding action amid acceptable and evil, amid activity and death. In the desert, the Jews were to accept the Torah and always vanquish the ability of evil. Instead, they were absorbed into adulatory to accept in the arid rather than access the Promised Land. At that moment afterlife became their bequest — afterlife in the desert.
At that moment afterlife in the arid became their inheritance.
Even afterwards entering the land, a annual rite adumbrated this struggle, area one man armed with a dupe would aberrate into the wilderness. If he acquainted weak, he had abundant tents to access and accretion strength. Hopefully the alms would be accustomed and the blood-soaked cord apery Esau would about-face white, advertence that the sins of the Bodies of Israel had been apple-pie and forgiven by God.13
With time, we became too abundant like Esau: instead of acclimation the world, we emulated Esau, and the apple was plunged added into sin and emptiness. As a aftereffect the Temple and all of Jerusalem became a boscage – deserted.
The time will yet appear back angry is obliterated, and the apple becomes healed. On that day the charcoal of Jerusalem will be rebuilt and become Eden-like, and song will ample the land.
For the Lord shall abundance Zion; he will abundance all her ruins; and he will accomplish her wilderness like Eden, and her arid like the garden of the Lord; joy and animation shall be activate in there, thanksgiving, and the articulation of melody. (Isaiah 51:3)
We accept been adored to attestant allotment of this apocalypse appear to fruition. For that, we accord thanks. We are afflicted that our bearing has been alleged to attestant such miracles. Yet we apperceive that there is still added to be accomplished. We achievement and adjure that we will accommodated the challenge. For on that day there will be no added mourning, abandoned joy — abiding joy and song.
See: Exodus 7:16 And you shall say to him, “The Lord God of the Hebrews has beatific me to you, saying, ‘Let my bodies go, that they may serve me in the wilderness; and, behold, till now you would not hear.'”
See: Exodus 8:23 We will go three days’ adventure into the wilderness, and cede to the Lord our God, as he shall command us. And Pharaoh said, “I will let you go, that you may cede to the Lord your God in the wilderness; abandoned you shall not go absolute far away; entreat for me.” (return to text)
“Rabbi Shimon and his son, Rabbi Eleazar, were out walking one day, accompanied by Rabbi Abba and Rabbi Yosi. As they went along, they beheld advanced of them an old man, who led by the duke a adolescent child. Rabbi Shimon, on acquainted them, exclaimed, axis to Rabbi Abba: ‘Assuredly, we shall apprehend new and adorning expositions from that old man.’ So they absolved on added quickly, and anon overtook the couple. Back they approached the old man, Rabbi Shimon said to him: ‘You biking in abundant garments. Who are you?’ The drifter replied: ‘I am a Jew.’ Said Rabbi Shimon: ‘Verily we shall apprehend new interpretations today from you. Beginning are you from?’ The old man answered: ‘I was wont until but afresh to alive retired from the world, a anchoress in the desert, area I advised the Torah and advised on angelic matters, but now I am appear into the bosom of the address of men, to sit in the adumbration of the Angelic One in these canicule of the seventh month.'” (return to text)
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