This Torah reading always either follows or precedes the Shavuos holiday. In 1973, shortly after the Shavuos holiday, the Rebbe called the chassidim together for a surprise gathering and began speaking about using the summer months to heighten Jewish education. He expressed wonderment that in America, children were given a two month vacation from school. Noting that the Talmud compared the relationship between man and study to fish in water, he asked: “Could you keep a fish out of water for two months?”

He explained, however, that the very problem created its solutions, for to keep children occupied during the summer, camps were created. Often, the informal learning environment of a camp can have a greater educational effect on a child’s development than the formal structure of a classroom setting. Moreover, the impact of a child being in the camp’s learning environment 24/7 is immeasurable. As a result, a child may gain a greater measure of Jewish identity and commitment from a summer in camp than a year in school. Therefore, the Rebbe concluded, efforts should be made to reach out to Jewish children and enroll them in Torah camps.

The Rebbe continued, citing the Biblical verse “Out of the mouths of sucklings and babies You established the strength to destroy enemies and those who seek revenge.” He explained that the previously mentioned efforts to spread Jewish education will generate protection and strength for Jews all over the world and particularly in Israel.

Throughout the summer, he continued to cite that same verse and emphasize how the education of Jewish children was connected to Jewish security. Chassidim wondered why he continued to dwell on the issue, repeating the points persistently.

After that summer, the Yom Kippur war broke out. The Rebbe later stated that he did not know why he continually spoke about “destroy[ing] enemies and those who seek revenge,” but apparently, from Above, he was pushed toward it. For the children’s Torah played an important role in generating the help from Above that was granted to the war effort.

Parshas Naso

One of the subjects discussed in this week’s Torah reading is how to deal with a sotah, a woman suspected of adultery. In the era of the Bible, there was a unique way of proving her fidelity or lack of such. A scroll containing G‑d’s name and curses for infidelity would be submerged in a vessel of water and then the woman was forced to drink the water. If she had indeed transgressed, her inner organs would burst and she would die.

The Torah introduces the passage describing this subject with the verse: “If a man’s wife will deviate.” Our Sages note the similarity between the root letters of the word used for “deviate,” tisteh, and the Hebrew word for foolishness, shtus, and comment: “A person does not sin unless he becomes possessed by a spirit of foolishness.”

What’s the foolishness of sin? Because no one would ever consciously desire to separate himself from G‑d. If a person would realize that through a given act, he is cutting himself off from G‑d, he would never perform that act. No lure, no matter how enticing could cause a person to break his bond with G‑d. For no one can — nor does anyone want to — separate himself from G‑d.

Why do we sin? Because we rationalize our conduct. “This is not so bad,” we tell ourselves. “No matter what I do, my relationship with G‑d is intact.” Now, on one hand, that is true, because from G‑d’s perspective, no one is ever truly separate from Him. On the other hand, it’s like two people standing back to back. Are they distant from each other? No. But can they share a relationship? Also not. At that moment, from his own perspective, the person is turned away from G‑d and he must undergo a deep inner change before he can renew his relationship with Him.

Were we to realize that every time we commit a transgression, we are turning our backs to G‑d, we would never sin. That lack of awareness is part of the foolishness our Sages mentioned.

A second dimension of that foolishness comes when we realize what is right and what is wrong, but think we don’t have the power to withstand our desires. That is also foolishness, because there is nothing more powerful than truth and the inner truth within each of us is a G‑dly soul that seeks expression. No material desire, no matter how powerful, can overcome that spiritual quest once it is inspired.

Is there anything we would not do to remain one with G‑d? Why, so many times in our nation’s history, have our people chosen martyrdom instead of denying their Judaism? Because they could not bear the thought of being separate from Him. Now, of course, petty desires are much easier to overcome than the fear of death. If we have in mind that we would be willing to accept death rather than separate ourselves from Him, it will follow logically that we should overcome any internal challenges that appear to stand in the way of living a life of connection to Him.

Looking to the Horizon

The relationship between a husband and wife on this earthly plane is understood as an analogy for the bond between G‑d and the Jewish people. Our relationship has had many phases. There were honeymoon moments — the Giving of the Torah, the entry into the Promised Land, the building of the Temple. At those times, our bond with G‑d was open and apparent.

And there have been times of difficulty, like the era of exile, when the entire relationship is called into question. Indeed, sometimes, it seems like G‑d has been testing our fidelity, like the sotah test mentioned above.

But exile is only temporary. Moreover, it’s purposeful, teaching us to look beyond the superficialities and concentrate on the fundamental dimensions of our relationship. During the good times, that isn’t necessary, but when the challenges arise, we should ask ourselves: What really is the nature of our bond with Him?

As we focus on this inner reality, the externals of exile will no longer be significant. And as they cease to be significant in our minds, they will cease to exist in actual fact and give way to the era of Mashiach.