By Five Towns Marriage Initiative
From the Jewish nation’s exodus from Egypt until the second year in the desert when the Mishkan, tabernacle, was built, there was no formal camping “structure” for the Jewish nation’s travels in the desert. However, once the Mishkan was built, Hashem described to Moshe in great detail a “formal” plan as to how the Jewish camp should be organized. The Mishkan was to be the center of the camp, surrounded by the tribe of Levi. Surrounding this center would be the twelve tribes in the shape of a square, three tribes on each of the four sides. Each tribe was to have its own flag with the tribe’s symbol on the flag. The description concludes with: “V’ya’asu b’nei Yisrael k’chol asher tzivah Hashem es Moshe, kein asu,” The Jewish nation did everything that Hashem commanded Moshe (Bamidbar 1:54).
Why should there be special mention of the Jewish people’s listening to Hashem’s instructions for camping? What was so extraordinary about this adherence to instructions?
The Midrash says that when Hashem described the format for the camp around the Mishkan, Moshe anticipated that there would be arguments regarding who would camp where and the fact that Shevet Levi was in the center position. However, the Jewish nation did exactly as commanded without arguing. This showed greatness on the part of the Jewish people and recognition that it required all of their combined strengths to create a Jewish nation.
This description of the Jewish nation’s desert camp contains an important lesson for us in our daily lives. Marriage is about two individuals coming together to create a home. In marriage there are different roles; these differences should not be a cause of friction, but rather a way of combining different strengths to create a home. There is a well-known marriage quote, “opposites attract.” While that may be true before marriage, once married the couple needs to stop seeing themselves as opposites and start seeing themselves as “different players on the same team.” When a couple shifts perspective in this way the result is harmony instead of discord.
In the desert, the twelve tribes camped in harmony, recognizing that it required all of their combined strengths to create a Jewish nation. Let us take this lesson to heart and celebrate, instead of fight about, the differences between us and our spouses. Let us endeavor to use those differences to create together a beautiful bayis ne’eman b’Yisrael. v
Five Towns Marriage Initiative provides educational programs, workshops, and referrals to top marriage therapists. FTMI will help offset counseling costs when necessary and also runs an anonymous shalom bayis hotline for the entire community Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday evenings, 10:00–11:00 p.m. For the hotline or for more information, call 516-430-5280 or e‑mail firstname.lastname@example.org.