Don’t we all wish we could control our time? I typed “How to control my time” in the Google search box and saw 1.36 billion results. Apparently, yes, we all wish we could control our time.
With all of the gurus offering time management tips, and though there are many extraordinary time planning tools on the market, those really just help us organize our time. Control of time is a much different story. And the Torah seemed to be suggesting as much in this week’s parshah, Beha’alotekha. The text reminds us that God accompanied Israel on its journey through the wilderness, experienced in the form of a cloud by day and fire by night. But in this passage (Numbers 9:19-21), the Torah seems to include every possible travel situation in the most redundant way:
“When the cloud lingered over the Tabernacle many days, the Israelites observed the LORD’s mandate and did not journey on.” (19)
“At such times as the cloud rested over the Tabernacle for but a few days, they remained encamped at a command of the LORD, and broke camp at a command of the LORD.” (20)
“And at such times as the cloud stayed from evening until morning, they broke camp as soon as the cloud lifted in the morning. Day or night, whenever the cloud lifted, they would break camp.” (21)
Why the repetition? I think the Torah is sending a strong message about what it means to be part of something larger than ourselves. Ramban (Nachmanides) notices that each verse addresses a different situation. On Shabbat morning, we’ll look at this passage with his help.
And before Shabbat, if you have 23 minutes and a sense of humor, enjoy this classic episode of Everybody Loves Raymond that reinforces the Torah’s point.
Rabbi David Wise