Once the Rebbe, Reb Zusia of Anipoli, was trudging down a country road. He passed a wagon with its wheels mired in the mud. “Help me push the wagon out,” the driver called to Reb Zusia.

Reb Zusia realized that he was weak and frail and could not be of much assistance. “I would like to help you,” he told the wagon driver, “but I can’t.”

“You can,” replied the wagon driver, “but you don’t want to.”

Reb Zusia understood this as a lesson. Too often, we feel mired down, unable to generate positive energy, stuck where we are without the strength to go forward.

That feeling is an illusion. No matter what our spiritual level, we always have the potential for growth and advancement. Every person has a soul, which is an actual part of G‑d, and just like there is nothing that can hold G‑d back, there is nothing that can hold us back. We just have to want to go forward.

Parshas Pekudei

This week’s Torah reading concludes the Book of Exodus. The final passage of that book tells us: “The cloud covered the Tent of Meeting, and the glory of G‑d filled the Sanctuary.... For the cloud of G‑d would be on the Sanctuary... before the eyes of all of the House of Israel throughout their journeys.”

The Book of Exodusbegins with the narrative of the Jews’ enslavement in Egypt, recounts the story of their redemption, and then tells of the giving of the Torah and the construction of the Sanctuary. It is a story of constant growth. As slaves, they saw the revelation of G‑dliness through the Ten Plagues. Then they were granted their freedom and left the land of Egypt, whereupon they witnessed the utter devastation of the Egyptians at the miraculous crossing of the Sea.

Following the attainment of physical freedom, they proceeded to Sinai where G‑d gave them the Torah and they witnessed the revelation of spiritual truth. At Sinai, every person experienced a direct bond with G‑d. This enabled them to appreciate a path of life that made possible a connection with Him, not only on a mountain in the desert, but within the day-to-day realities of ordinary life. This is accomplished through the mishpatim, the realm of Torah law that can be rationally understood and that governs interpersonal relations.

Moreover, this spiritual awareness is given concrete expression through the construction of the Sanctuary. The Jewish people took material entities — gold, silver, wood, and brass — and made them into a dwelling for the Divine presence. The conclusion of this process — and of this entire sequence of ascent — came when “the glory of G‑d filled the Sanctuary.” Despite the limitations of our mortal existence, mankind was able to create a place that G‑d could call home, a place where His very essence was revealed.

The Torah emphasizes, however, that this sequence of growth does not lead to a dead end. Directly afterwards, it states: “When the cloud arose... the children of Israel set forth on all their journeys.” Divine service requires constant progress. We can never “rest on our laurels,” but must instead continually undertake new and greater goals. Just as G‑d is infinite and unbounded, so too, our relationship with Him knows no limitations.

To express this idea within the personal realm: A person may go through a process of self-development and growth that will take him from being hampered and confined to the point of experiencing a connection with G‑d in his daily life. And this relationship will not be self-contained, but instead will be extended into his environment; he will make his surroundings a dwelling for G‑dliness. He should not, however, stop there. Instead, he should summon up the inner strength to “journey forth” and spread the awareness of G‑d to new and even broader horizons.

Looking to the Horizon

When speaking of the Future Redemption, the prophet declares: “As in the days of your Exodus from Egypt, I will show [the people] wonders,” teaching that like the Exodus from Egypt, the Future Redemption will be characterized by miracles that transcend the natural order.

The commentaries, however, raise the question: Why does the verse say “the days of your exodus”? The Jews left Egypt in one day. Seemingly, it should have used the singular term, “the day of your exodus.”

Among the explanations given is that all the days until the ultimate Redemption are “the days of your exodus from Egypt.” The exodus from Egypt was not an end in itself, but the beginning of a sequence intended to be completed with the coming of Mashiach. Until Mashiach’s coming, we are still in the middle of “the days of your exodus,” for the process has not been consummated. Each of us as an individual, our people, and the world as a whole is still lacking redemption. This is the journey of our people and the journey of each one of us — to proceed to Eretz Yisrael together with Mashiach.