By Shalom Olensky
This week in the Torah:
The book of Exodus concludes, with the words, “The Glory of G-d filled the Mishkan (the portable Sanctuary that accompanied the Jews throughout their time in the desert) on all their travels.”
“Everything follows its conclusion” says the Talmud. If so, where, in the words “on all their travels,” do we see the message of the book of Exodus?
Rashi’s commentary on the verse interprets the words “their travels” to mean “their encampments.” They are called “travels” because the Jews encamped between journeys. This is so, even-though the encampments were settled and permanent-like. Yet, since the encampments made it possible to have the subsequent journeys, the encampments themselves gained (also) the quality of “travels.”
Midrash tells us that the main theme of Exodus is…Exodus. How does that accord with the fact that Exodus begins with the story of the Jews descent into slavery in Egypt?
Although the Exile itself is purely negative, the exiled Jews, being that they are G-d’s Chosen People and they are the purpose of everything, they were always, at least in a hidden way, free. This was revealed at the time of the actual Exodus. Thus the Jews’ experience of Exile gained, retroactively, a quality of Redemption.
This is the connection between encampments called by the name “travels,” to the theme of Exodus. Just like the encampment itself gained a quality of journeying because of its enabling the subsequent journey, so too, the Jewish Exile developed into being a state of Redemption – the main theme of Exodus. This also explains the connection between the opening passages of Exodus, which tell of the descent into Exile, with the main theme of the book – Redemption. For the “encampment” (Exile-like stagnancy) itself, acquired an element of “travel” (Redemption-like progress).
(Based on Likkutei Sichos Vol. 6, Pekudei)