This week's Parsha begins the fourth book of the Torah, the book of Bamidbar — literally, "In the Desert" — which deals with our ancestors' travels through the Sinai Desert.

The Midrash gives a number of reasons why the Torah was given in a desert.

Had the Torah been given in a settled area, the implication would have been that it was linked somehow to that neighborhood, that it belonged exclusively to the people of that place. By giving the Torah in the ownerless desert, it was made clear that Torah does not belong to anybody in particular; rather, whosoever chooses can acquire Torah and make it their own.

In addition, a desert conjures up an image of a coarse, uncultivated wasteland. This is symbolic of our physical world. Through applying the Torah and using the world around us for the service of G‑d and the betterment of humanity, we elevate and refine this "desert," making it into a rich, fertile land — a dwelling-place for the Divine.