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Torah In The Desert

GYE Corp. Sunday, 15 January 2012

"Bayom Hazeh Ba'u Midbar Sinai - on this day, they came to the desert of Sinai". Chazal say (Shabbos 86b) that we arrived at Midbar Sinai on Rosh Chodesh Sivan,TODAY.

The next Pasuk repeats: "Va'yisu Merifidim, Vayavo'u Midbar Sinai - And they traveled from Refidim, and they came to the dessert of Sinai".

The Torah ties the two together. Me'refidim - "from Refidim" can also be understood in the context of "through Refidim". We need to travel through our weakness/powerlessness" (as the word "Refidim / Rafu" implies), in order to get to Midbar Sinai - that true connection with Hashem. By "traveling" through the journey of our weakness we are able to arrive at Midbar Sinai.

The Zohar in Parshas Tetzava brings an encounter between R' Shimon Bar Yochai and a old Holy Jew who came out of the dessert. R' Shimon asked him why he had been in the dessert and he replied that he dwells there the whole year round and learns Torah, explaining that he did this because the dessert belongs to the Sitrah Achrah. Therefore, by serving Hashem there, he was subjugating the "other" side. And the old man went on to say how the Torah can only settle in the dessert, for the following reason (here are the words of the Zohar translated):

For there is no light besides that which comes out of darkness. And when the "other" side is subjugated, the Master of the World is elevated and his honor is increased. And avodas Hashem can only be through darkness, and there can be no good, only though bad. And when a person goes into a bad path and then leaves it, the Master of the World's honor is elevated. And therefore, the "Shleimus" (completion) of everything, is good and bad together - and then to leave to the (side of) good. And there can be no good but that which comes through bad, and from such good, Hashem is elevated. And this is called an "avodah shleimah" (a complete service of Hashem).