I know that it was G‑d who put me in this darkness, and I therefore do everything I can to make a difference in my journey. The ideas that follow keep me positive in my difficult situation, suffering with ALS.

I could have never imagined the impact I would have in the world, lying in bed, unable to move.I could have never imagined the impact I would have in the world, lying in bed, unable to move. Neither could I have envisioned how my wife, Dina, would change the lives of so many with her talks, filling them with strength and hope. But we see, and we are grateful for the amazing amount of good being done on behalf of our family. In this tremendous darkness we are going through, the most is being accomplished.

After Moses erected the Mishkan, G‑d's presence filled it. "The cloud covered the Tent of Meeting, and the glory of G‑d filled the Mishkan. Moses could not enter the Tent of Meeting since the cloud had rested on it, and the glory of G‑d filled the Mishkan."1 Scripture continues: "Whenever the cloud rose from above the Mishkan, the Children of Israel would embark on all their journeys. And if the cloud did not rise, they did not travel until the day it rose. For the cloud of G‑d was above the Mishkan by day and fire would be there by night, to the eyes of the entire House of Israel, at all their journeys."2

The last three verses seem out of place.3 Here’s why: We just finished reading all about the completion and the erecting of the Mishkan, and how the Divine Presence filled it. Then, all of a sudden, it concludes with travel-related details. As the Midrash4 tells us about these verses, "This is the story of the journeys." How does it fit in with the context?

The Bridge

The question becomes stronger when you read the Midrash5 on the next verse, the first verse of the book of Leviticus: "And G‑d called to Moses."6 The Midrash explains that this is a continuation from the final verse, "Moses could not enter the Tent of Meeting since the cloud had rested on it, and the glory of G‑d filled the Mishkan." Moses couldn't enter, so G‑d called him and then he was able to enter.

The opening of Leviticus comes in continuation of the verses of the Divine Presence filling the Mishkan, and these three verses clearly seem to be a break between the two.

Now that we know that Pekudei (the end of Exodus) and Leviticus are connected with these three verses in between, we have to ask: How do they connect to the themes of both of these books?

The Book of Leviticus speaks mainly about the different offerings brought in the Mishkan, as it is even referred to as Sefer Hakarbanot,7 “the Book of Offerings.” One might think that the connection between the two books is that Exodus tells of the building of the Mishkan and Leviticus speaks of the offerings brought in the Mishkan. But since the last verses of Exodus tell of the Divine Presence filling the Mishkan and the Midrash says that this is the connection to Leviticus, we must conclude that the idea of offerings is more connected to the Divine Presence filling the Mishkan.

To take it a step further, since the final three verses speak about the journeys, and specifically how the cloud of G‑d's Presence rose away from the Mishkan when they journeyed, we can infer that the connection is even greater when the Divine Presence is away from the Mishkan than when it fills it, as will be explained.

The Book of Exodus begins with parshat Shemot, and ends with parshat Pekudei. The names of both portions indicate some sort of counting. Rashi8 on the word "Shemot" explains, that even though G‑d counted the children of Israel when they were alive, He counts them again here, because He cherishes them. So, Shemot is about counting the Jewish people.

Pekudei means “tally of.” It speaks of the tally of the donations to the Mishkan, and how they were used for in the construction of the Mishkan. So, the book begins with the counting of the Jewish people, and ends with the counting of the Mishkan.

Limited and Unlimited Together

The theme of the book is the redemption from Egypt. It is strange that it is preoccupied with numbers, because, in a way, numbers are the opposite of redemption. Counting demonstrates limitation. Redemption, on the other hand, is breaking out of all limitations. The theme seems to be limited and unlimited at the same time.

In the parshah of Shemot itself you have limited and unlimited together. First it counts the number of people who came down to Egypt. Then it says, "And the Children of Israel were fertile and swarmed and increased and became very, very strong, and the land was filled with them."9 They had a birth rate that was far beyond the natural.10

The portion of Pekudei also has limited and unlimited together. First it tallies all the details of the Mishkan, and then it says that the glory of G‑d filled it, to the point that even Moses, the greatest of men, couldn't enter it. This is because the Divine Presence is infinite.

How do we reconcile having limited and unlimited at the same time? It seems impossible!

The explanation is that, although we are meant to reach for and connect to the infinite (which is the idea of redemption, going beyond the limitations of the world) that doesn't have to come at the expense of the world's limitations. Rather, there has to be the marriage of the infinite and the finite.

We see this in the Mishkan itself. The infinite Presence of G‑d filled the limited Mishkan and its vessels.

Since the ultimate purpose is that "G‑d desired to have a dwelling for Himself below,"11 there has to be two things simultaneously. It must be a "dwelling," a home for His infinite essence, and it should be "below," in this limited, lowly world.

We Make G‑d a Home

We, the Jewish people, are the home for G‑d. This is because He "specifically wants to live and dwell in the souls of the Children of Israel."12 And we are the perfect place for G‑d to feel at home, because, as the Zohar says, "Israel and G‑d are One."13 We are the ultimate dwelling for G‑d. It is only that it has to be "below," in this world. Through our interaction with the world, we make it into a vessel for G‑d. The more we refine the world, the clearer it becomes that He is everything, and the physical world is just a facade. The clearer that becomes, the more the oneness of G‑d and the Jewish people is revealed. When this essential connection is totally revealed, the home is complete.

The Book of Genesis tells us about the creation and the settling of the world. The Book of Exodus tells of how the Children of Israel became a nation, and that G‑d gave us His Torah to fulfill His will, making a home for Him. This idea is seen in the building of the Mishkan, which was a revealed home for G‑d's Presence.

But the Mishkan itself didn't show how we can transform the mundane physical world into something holy. It was merely a place for the Divine Presence to reside. It was the offerings in the Book of Leviticus, wherein we took a mundane physical animal and made it into a holy offering for G‑d. This is what draws the infinite Presence of G‑d into the world.

The Nexus

That is how the portions of Pekudei and Vayikra and the books of Exodus and Leviticus all connect to the verses of the Divine Presence filling the Mishkan. Because, the whole purpose of the Jewish people, the Torah, the Mishkan and the offerings, were to make a dwelling for G‑d, so that G‑d's essence could dwell openly in the world.

When is our ability to do this the greatest? That is where the last three verses about the journeys come in. It is specifically when the Divine Presence leaves us, when we are displaced and are forced to journey, that our work is most powerful.

Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi14 said that the journeys in the desert hint to the journeys of exile. Just as in the desert, they only journeyed on G‑d's command, now too, the place you find yourself is directly by His wish. You do what G‑d wants you to do in times of displacement, when it is dark and G‑d is hidden. Then, when you reach the place of rest, when G‑d descends and is seen once again, it is a far greater revelation than before the journey began.

This is a lesson to each and every one of us. You have to know that G‑d specifically put you in your situation, and you have a mission to accomplish there. The darker the situation, the more you can accomplish, turning the world into a home for G‑d.

May our personal journeys come to an end, and may the journey of the Jewish people through this dark and bitter exile finally come to an end. Then we will merit to see how our work in this great darkness revealed that we and G‑d are one, with the coming of Moshiach. May he come soon.15