Vayakhel: We Are Always Changing

Over the past month, I've had access to a car, which has been very nice and very useful.  Several times, I've had to drive to the Haifa area to take kids to appointments.  And each time that I get into this 20 km zone, the GPS goes haywire (thankfully, I grew up not being dependent on it).

Every time I (and others) would start Waze or Google Maps, we would find ourselves, smack in the middle of Beirut's international airport.  According to its calculation, it would take more than six hours to get home.  When my kids asked me why that is so, to me the answer was obvious.  When Hezbollah decides to send some higher tech GPS-guided missiles towards Haifa … well … hopefully they'll hit the wrong one.  Pretty neat seeing these ideas.

Over the past several weeks, the Torah has been detailing to us the building of the Mishkan.  While the Mishkan/Beis HaMikdash are central to our religious lives, we see that it's clearly not our raison d'etre.  You would think otherwise, given that most of the Torah deals with things that are connected to the Mishkan.  However, that is not the case.  We built the Mishkan, fine, but now, it's time to move on to the next phase in life.  What's the goal at this point for the Jewish people?  Eretz Yisroel.  What does that exactly mean?  What is "Eretz Yisroel" exactly?  Will we live a spiritual life? A physical life? A mixed life?  Will there be a yetzer horah?  They knew none of those things.  We really don't know ourselves.  But what we do know is that this was and is our destination.

Rav Reuven Leuchter spoke of this a little over a week ago.  He said that one of the most dangerous and anti-Jewish thoughts a person can have is: having a destination outside of "the ultimate destination."  What does that mean?

Let's take somebody learning in kollel.  He can say, "I want to work hard, so I can be a Rosh Yeshiva."  Great.  So, why do you want to be a Rosh Yeshiva?  "Because I feel that I have talents that can be used to help others."  Okay … but what about after that?  "What do you mean?"

Or somebody could say, "I want to work hard, so I can understand the laws of Shabbos."  Great.  So, why do you want to understand the laws of Shabbos?  "Because I want to know what Hashem wants from me." Okay … but what about after that?  "Well, hopefully, I could learn about kashrus…"

Both have goals, but only the first has an actual destination in mind.

We ask three times a day that the world should change. If you pay attention to Shemoneh Esrei, you will see many references to Moshiach coming and the resurrection of the dead.  We daven, every day, asking for the world to change.

We even see this is the Torah.  Throughout the 40 years that we spent in the desert, the Torah does not call each location that we stayed at, "resting places," rather it called them "travels" (masa'os).

This is one of the essences of Judaism.  We are constantly travelling.  However, we ourselves don't want to travel, we want to reach somewhere.  We want a destination.  We want to BE something.  And there lies our issue.  When we have destinations, and we're talking spiritual ones, we cause an unbelievable inner pressure to get to, and remain, in those destinations.

Yet, the reality of the Jewish nation is not about destinations, it's about travelling and moving forward.

When a person has destinations, those destinations are created from his imagination.  "I want to be a huge talmid chacham," he thinks, and he has in his mind what this "huge talmid chacham" is, and then he pressures himself to reach that goal.

When a person is travelling, he has no imaginary ideas in his head.  He understands that he is moving through life, with his ultimate destination in life (when Moshiach comes), and in the meantime, he doesn't know what will be or what will happen.  In fact, he doesn't even know what that destination looks like!  He learns and adapts himself to each station that Hashem puts him in, knowing that Hashem is leading the way.

There is a famous pasuk from Yirmiyahu (2:2): "I accounted to your favor … How you followed Me in the wilderness, in a land not sown."  Rav Leuchter said that we often think that this pasuk is simply speaking of a lack of food.  But there is a deeper meaning to it.  We followed Hashem, and only with Hashem.  Being we went, not with some goals or well-defined destinations in mind, but only to live with Hashem, knowing that He knows where he's going.  That's all!

This is the nature of the Jewish nation.  We are always moving, adapting, growing.  The only destination is the final destination.  When a person wants to BE somewhere, he has pressure and he never knows if that is the right destination (and what becomes of him after that?).  When a person knows that he's on a life-long journey, then he will have less stress, and be more receptive to what Hashem wants from him and where He wants his path to be.  Again, personal/national goals are one thing … personal/national destinations are another.

If there is a time to know and understand this, it's now.  After Simchas Torah, the Jewish world changed forever.  Outside of Eretz Yisroel, Jews are being extra careful where they go, what they wear, what they say, and even considering uprooting themselves and moving. The antisemites are out in public and are gaining control.

Inside of Eretz Yisroel?  Well … our very existence is up in the air.  The world has naturally turned against us and a terrible war in the north is brewing.  For the religious world as well, changes are happening or on the horizon.  There is the army draft (which is not such a simple thing) coming up and major financial cuts throughout the country that will affect the religious world that they haven't seen in decades.

Those who cannot handle change will hold on to the belief: "No, it cannot happen, it must be fought."  And when it does happen, and they lose their fight?  What becomes of them?

Change is part of the DNA of the Jewish nation.  And we need to understand that we are not always the ones to make the changes.  By focusing on our final, and real (yet unknown) destination, we can weather the changes and come out healthy because, after all, we're following Hashem into a land not sown … the future.

With that, I leave you all with a wonderfully quiet Shabbos.