This week we finish the reading of the book of Exodus, also known in the commentaries as the Book of Redemption because of its description of the people of Israel leaving Egypt. This second book of the Torah concludes by describing the establishment and dedication of the Tabernacle and, most importantly, the revelation of G‑d's Divine Presence within it.

The Torah tells us: "When the cloud lifted from the Tabernacle, the Israelites would set out, on their various journeys." This seemingly simple verse raises two very significant questions.

First of all, what is the connection between the Jews traveling forward and the establishment of the Tabernacle in the desert? This information would seem to be more appropriate later in the book of Numbers, when it describes in great detail the various travels of the people of Israel during their 40 years in the desert.

Secondly, the verse implies that the Jews' march toward the Land of Israel is specifically connected to the Divine Presence leaving their camp in the desert. Only when "the cloud lifted" do "the Israelites set out." Why is this so?

Chasidic thought answers both of these questions by dealing with the ultimate existential nature of Creation. It understands the Tabernacle to be a paradigm for all of the world. What dynamic is at play behind the timing of the Jewish people's journeys? One answer is that there is no great spiritual accomplishment in fulfilling the Divine Will at a time when G‑d's Presence is revealed and manifest.

The ultimate goal of existence is to rise up and connect to holiness even when it is hidden and concealed from us. The Midrash tells us that G‑d desired a "dwelling place for Himself in the lower worlds." But relative to G‑d, is there truly an upper or lower world? His realm is infinite.

We can now understand that when G‑d's cloud was found among the Jewish people and His Presence was revealed, then the material world ceased to be "lowly." It is only when the cloud of G‑d raises itself higher and higher, and His Divine Light is no longer revealed, can we begin the spiritual fulfilling of G‑d's design. And the Tabernacle bestows upon the Jewish people the strength and faculties to bring holiness into the world, the ultimate purpose of Creation.

This is an extremely relevant message for us all at this time in Jewish history. We are in a spiritual state of exile. There is a darkness that rests on the world necessitating our best efforts, even more than before, to engage in the study of Torah and the fulfillment of mitzvot. We must understand that our ultimate goal and purpose is to illuminate that darkness with the light of Torah. Just as the disappearance of the Divine cloud from the Tabernacle became the sign to proceed forward, so, too, should today’s conflicts encourage and arouse us to dedicate ourselves to the fulfillment of G‑d's mission, which is to journey past this era and into the Messianic era of the complete and full redemption.