Office of the Chief Rabbi

D’var Torah: Beha’alotecha

How do we know that every single one of us can feel our own special connection to the Torah?

Parshat Behaalotecha tells us “וַאֲר֨וֹן בְּרִית־יְהוָ֜ה נֹסֵ֣עַ לִפְנֵיהֶ֗ם – the ark of the covenant of Hashem travelled ahead of the nation”. From Joshua, chapter three we learn that there was actually a gap of around 2000 cubits, that’s approximately half a mile between the Ark ahead and the people following behind it. Was this not a mark of disrespect? Surely here we should have had a process of ‘levaya’, of accompaniment. The nation should have surrounded the ark to give it due honour but instead, there was this huge gap?

Actually, our tradition tells us that there was a purpose for the distance between the Ark and the people behind. You see, had we surrounded the Ark, the vast majority of people would have had to rely on the witness statements of those who were closest to it. Instead, thanks to the gap and the people being spread out widely, every single individual could focus their own personal attention on the Ark, they could see it for themselves and they could develop and establish their own special, personal connection with it.

I believe this speaks volumes for us today. Baruch Hashem, we are so privileged because each and every one of us can achieve our own personal connection to the Torah. We don’t have to rely on the evidence of others. For each one of us in the ups and downs of our lives, the Torah is there to assist us. We can be inspired by the role models, we can be guided by the Torah’s narratives and our lives can be transformed thanks to the incredible mitzvot of the Torah.

In our davening we say וְתֵן חֶלְקֵנוּ בְּתורָתֶךָ – please Hashem give us our חלק, our portion, in the Torah. Baruch Hashem that is achievable. Each one of us can have our חלק, our own personal connection to the most incredible, God-given resource, there for us to have a life of meaning and joy always.

Shabbat shalom