A Guide to Endurance
Throughout the forty-year sojourn in the wilderness, the cloud was the shepherd’s staff, by means of which
The text emphasizes that this guidance was unpredictable. There were times when the people had to stay in one place for a long period and there were times when they were to remain at rest for only a few days. Some of these rest periods lasted only a single night and there were times when they remained encamped for an entire year.
Ramban (Nachmanides) explains that since they never had advance indication of how long each rest period would be, whenever the cloud would give the signal to encamp they would have to make all the arrangements for prolonged stay, knowing that in a few hours they may have to pack up and travel again.
There was great purpose and training in this ad hoc travel guidance. We learned to follow
A close look at the text reveals that the most challenging aspect of this unpredictable guidance was the waiting at the lengthy stops. Nothing is said of the duration of the journeys, but the prolonged waiting is mentioned several times in these verses. The people were aware of their destination — the Land of Israel — and had not yet been condemned to forty years in the wilderness. The waiting was particularly agonizing because they understood that every stop delayed their arrival at the destination.
So it is with our individual journeys and Israel’s journey as a nation: the test of our endurance and patience, in waiting for direction to advance is the most significant challenge. When
- Sources: Commentary Bamidbar 9:16-22