1.

Remember, a Chassid and a yirei ShamayimG‑d fearing Jew — is something one needs to be 24/7 — all the days of his life. May you be blessed to carry these titles valiantly.

The parshah begins with some instructions to be conveyed to Aharon regarding the kindling of the Menorah and a detail in the making of the Menorah, namely, that it should be hammered out entirely from one piece of gold. Regarding the kindling, the Torah attests that “Vaya’as kein Aharon” — “Aharon did so” — he kindled it in the way Moshe had instructed him (8:3).

Rashi on these words writes “lehagid shevacho shel Aharon” — “to tell you the praise of Aharon, shelo shinah — he did not deviate.”

Rashi’s comment, superficially, sounds difficult to comprehend and superfluous. Would anyone suspect that Aharon would deviate from Hashem’s command?

Aharon, as Kohen Gadol, kindled the Menorah the entire 40 years that the Mishkan was in the wilderness. A person naturally does something the first time with more dedication and excitement than after he has done it for several years. In his praise, the Torah says that Aharon did not change: Even after kindling the Menorah for many years, he continued to do so with the same dedication, fervor, and excitement as the first time. It never became a matter of routine with him.

My dear Bar Mitzvah, as you were preparing for this milestone in your life, undoubtedly, you were looking forward with much excitement and enthusiasm about becoming a full- fledged Jew, one who is obligated to uphold Torah and mitzvot. We pray that will show us that “lo shinah” — you will not deviate but always continue your attitude toward Torah and mitzvot with the same initial fervor you have today.

May people always praise you that “lo shinah” — you remained the same Chassidish bachur as you were in your youth. If there is any change, let it be only a change for the better. Be a greater Chassid, a greater yirei Shamayim — G‑d fearing Jew — and a greater lamdan — Torah scholar.


2.

In the beginning of Chumash Bamidbar we learn the details of the procedure followed when the Jewish people would travel during their sojourn in the wilderness. The Torah then goes on to discuss many other matters. In the middle of our parshah, Behalotecha, the Torah returns to its account of the Children of Israel’s travels and the procedures involved.

We read the following: “Whether it was two days, a month or a year, that the cloud would linger over with the MishkanTabernacle — the Children of Israel would encamp and would not travel, and when it was lifted, they traveled” (9:22).

Each of Bnei Yisrael’s journeys and encampments in the desert was by Divine bidding. When it was time to travel, the miraculous cloud that covered the Mishkan would depart from over it, at which point Bnei Yisrael would travel, the cloud leading the way. The Torah relates, “And in the place where the cloud came to rest, there the Bnei Yisrael encamped. At the commandment of G‑d the Bnei Yisrael journeyed, and at the commandment of G‑d they encamped” (Bamidbar 9:17-18).

(Incidentally, according to the Shelah [Rabbi Isaiah HaLeivi Horowitz 1558-1628], Sefer Shenei Luchot Habrit, Vol. 2, p. 352b) the words “al pi Hashem” — “according to the word of G‑d” — are repeated six times over a span of five pesukim which discuss the journeying and encampment of the Jewish people, to teach us that it is imperative for a Jew to constantly state that his planned activities will take place im yirtzeh Hashem — “G‑d willing” — or “be’ezrat Hashem” — “with G‑d’s help.”

For instance, a traveler should say, “I am traveling be’ezrat Hashem on such and such a day and I hope to arrive there, im yirtzeh Hashem, on such and such a day.” When he arrives he should say, “I arrived be’ezrat Hashem and hope to leave, im yirtzeh Hashem,on such and such a day.”)

Some of their encampments lasted for a year or more, but in some locations their stay was only one night, or a day or two. Upon their arrival at each location, the Levi’im would reassemble the entire Mishkan, and then dismantle it when the cloud indicated that it was time to go. Since “at G‑d’s bidding they would encamp, and at G‑d’s bidding they would travel” (Bamidbar 9:23), there was obviously a G‑dly reason to construct the Mishkan in that particular place at that particular time. The Mishkan was therefore assembled in each location they camped, regardless of how long or short their stay would be.

From this we can learn a very important lesson. Every step a Jew makes is determined by Hashgachah Pratit — Divine Providence — and the purpose is for establishing a Mishkan — bringing holiness – to that location.

The Rebbe writes in HaYom Yom (5 Adar I), “Beyond the slightest shadow of a doubt, wherever our feet tread, the sole reason is that we refine and purify the earth by uttering words of the Torah and of prayer. We — all of Israel — are agents of the Compassionate One, each of us according to the charge that supernal Providence has decreed upon him. No one is free from the holy task that has been placed on our shoulders.”

My dear Bar Mitzvah, this message applies to every Jew, and to you in particular as a young Chassid and soldier of the Rebbe’s army. Wherever you will be, it is incumbent on you to make the place holy with Torah and Mitzvot and conduct yourself the way a Chassid should. Mazal Tov and much success in this mission.