In this week’s Torah portion, the destinations of the Jews are listed as they traveled in the dessert. The Torah goes out of its way to list each location, and then repeats each location in the context of where they traveled FROM. Why does the Torah feel it necessary to tell us where they traveled FROM each time, if we already know that they traveled from their previous location? Perhaps this can be answered with a parable. A farmer desired to buy a fancy suit to wear at a wedding, so he went to the tailor to get his measurements taken. A few weeks later, the farmer returned to the tailor to try on his new suit. As he struggled to put his right leg in the pants, he realized how tight the suit was. Eventually, he got the pants on, but couldn’t close the button. Then the jacket caused him just as much difficulty, as he barely managed to close it. Infuriated, the farmer screamed at the tailor for ruining his suit, and now he wouldn’t have anything to wear for the wedding! After assessing the problem, the tailor let out a slight chuckle, and replied, “Foolish farmer! Before you try on a new suit, you must first take off your overalls!” The same idea can be applied to the seemingly repetitious behavior of the Torah. By mentioning the place where they had left from, the Torah is teaching us that in order to properly greet something new, one must question their preconceived notions, and refresh their minds, allowing for the new idea to be appropriately received.
At times, we feel compelled to allow our bodies to be mistreated after death, and as Jews, these feelings must be suppressed. By refreshing our minds and rethinking our decisions, we can come to make the right choices. The Neshama Foundation is an organization driven by Jewish tradition, promoting proper Jewish burials, and all the preparations and accommodations that come along with it. As the rate of Jewish cremation is strikingly high, Neshama is motivated to reach out to those in need of their assistance, providing both financial and emotional support to help prevent cremation at all costs.
Adapted from Torah.org, “A Fresh Look – at Life” by Rabbi Label Lam