G‑d then instructed Moses to organize the Jewish people into a specific army formation. The Tabernacle was in the middle, surrounded by three tribes on each of its four sides. (For this purpose, the descendants of the two sons of Joseph – Manasseh and Ephraim – were counted as separate tribes; thus, there were 12 non-Levite tribes.)
Guarding our Inner Sanctuary
מִנֶּגֶד סָבִיב לְאֹהֶל מוֹעֵד יַחֲנוּ: (במדבר ב:ב)
[G d told Moses, “The Israelites] must camp around the Tent of Meeting [i.e., the Tabernacle].”When you lend money . . . Numbers 2:2

The people’s encampment on all four sides of the Tabernacle symbolized how they protected the holy edifice and the Torah that resided in its innermost sanctum. Certainly, the Torah does not need our protection – on the contrary, the Torah and its commandments protect us. However, G‑d chose to entrust us with the noble mission of protecting the Torah.

Similarly, we must guard our personal, inner sanctuary – within our hearts and within our homes – from all four sides: from cool spiritual indifference on the cold north; from hot, lustful passions on the warm south; from self-gratification over brilliant accomplishments on the morning east; and from dark despair on the evening west.1