Headlines »

June 23, 2024 – 12:05 am | Comments Off on G-d Is Knocking, Answer the Call13 views

Moses appointed twelve emissaries to scout out the Holy Land and return with a report. The representative for the tribe of Ephraim was Moses’ primary disciple, Joshua. Until this time, the lad’s name was Oshua. But Moses added a letter to his name and called him Joshua.
Rashi, the famed eleventh …

Read the full story »
Parsha Insights

Where Biblical law and Torah tale is brought vividly to life


The Jewish perspective on topical and controversial subjects

Life Cycle

Probing for meaning in our journey and its milestones.

Yearly Cycle

Discover depth and mystique in the annual Jewish festivals

Rabbi’s Desk

Seeking life’s lessons in news items and current events

Home » Life Is Beautiful, Pekudi

Pekudei: Having A Bad Day?

Submitted by on March 10, 2016 – 12:55 pmNo Comment | 2,728 views

Looking Up

If your life is anything like mine, then you have good days and bad. Days when you feel like G-d is on your side and days when nothing seems to go right. When you are in the midst of a full blown bad day, you just want to go home and pull the covers over your head. If only we had that luxury… Yet, the Torah comes along and tells us there is no such thing as a bad day.

Yes, yes, yes. We’ve all heard it many times and guess what, we are going to hear it again. You know why? Because it’s the truth. It’s the old salesperson mindset: If you make one of ten sales, then each failure is ten percent of a success. Every salesperson knows it, most believe it, but only the best practice it. Same for the rest of us. We all know that bad days are precursors to good days, some of us actually believe it, but those who make themselves think this way, they get ahead.

Making Camp

The Torah tells us that a cloud hovered over our ancestors in the desert. When the cloud spread out over the camp, they would settle down and make camp, when the cloud lifted, they would get ready to journey on. Then the Torah makes an anomalous statement. “For the cloud of the Lord was upon the Mishkan . . . in all their journeys.”[1]

These are actually the closing words of the book of Exodus. One usually pays close attention to closing words and indeed, Rashi, the famed Biblical commentator, wondered aloud when he read these words. The cloud wasn’t upon them in their journeys, the cloud was upon them when they made camp. The Torah should have said, “in all their settlings.” What message is the Torah teaching by using the wrong word? And, if these are the last words of the book, the message must be related to the entire book.


We call it the book of Exodus, but in fact the book begins with enslavement. It is true that most of the book deals with the exodus and its aftermath, yet shouldn’t its name imply at least a little suffering? We might have answered that the name Exodus was chosen because it covers most of the book, but with its final words, the Torah tells us different. The name choice covers the entire book.

If making camp is followed by a journey, then indeed the camp is part of the journey. You don’t call it down time, its all part of the up time. Included in the journey are periods of rest. Those aren’t lulls or reversals, they are part of the journey. If the down is followed by an up, its part of the up.

If the suffering in Egypt weren’t followed by a redemption, it would have justified a separate name. But since it was followed by a redemption then in retrospect the suffering is part of the Exodus. You can’t have an Exodus if there is nowhere to exit from. Their time in Egypt was part of a process that led to a miraculous Exodus. It was an integral and necessary part of the journey.

The Torah thus concludes the book of Exodus, a book that describes the entire story, including the bondage, with the name Exodus, with the words “In all their journeys.” The Torah could easily have written “in all their settlings”, but we would have missed an important message. By calling the settlings journeys, we are taught that settling down is part of moving up.

Bad Day

There are days when things work well, those are the good days. Then there are days when nothing works, we call it a bad day. The Torah tells us they are all good days. They are all part of the journey. Just like you need to rest in order to journey on, so do you need to have a “bad day” in order to have good days. What we call a bad day is just a necessary lull before the storm of goodness picks up again.

Some days were meant for achievement, effectiveness and success. Other days were meant to be slow, plodding and unexciting. These aren’t failures. They are just days with a different mission. They weren’t meant to be upbeat days. They were meant to be slower; a time to gather momentum, courage and strength for the better days ahead.

Salespeople know that they wouldn’t have enough time in their day to process all their sales had everyone said yes. When they get nine no’s they view it as nine reprieves from getting up and filling an order. When they get the one yes, they are primed and ready to go; more than happy to take care of business. The lull sets them up for the sale and is in retrospect part of the sale.

In retrospect we can all see that, but the trick is to see it in the moment. We all know these feel good techniques, but putting them to work is a whole different story. When we are frustrated, it is difficult to pull ourselves together and make something special out of it. When we are handed lemons, its hard to think of lemonade. But just because its hard, for all of us – not just for you dear reader, doesn’t mean it isn’t true or effective. Indeed, those who do tap into this truth regularly, are the most effective.

Working Through The Bad Day

To reinforce this message, the Torah throws in the following verse. “All the work of the Mishkan of the Tent of Meeting was completed; the children of Israel had done according to all that the Lord had commanded Moses, so they had done.”[2]

The last four words, “so they had done,” seems redundant, right?

One commentator offered the following analysis. The tabernacle was built according to G-d’s instructions, but the work of the tabernacle, meaning the service to G-d performed in the tabernacle, was completed, ceased, when the temple in Israel was destroyed and the people were exiled. One would have thought that this exile, this downer, was the end of the journey.

The Torah comes along and tells us that it was not. Even after the saga of the tabernacle had ended, the relationship between G-d and the children of Israel continued. The Jewish people continued to do everything that G-d had commanded Moses even though they had been exiled.

Indeed, this was evident in the story of Purim, when Jews were exiled in Persia. They had sinned by partaking of the great feast of Achashverosh, but because they returned to G-d wholeheartedly, the relationship continued and G-d saved them from annihilation. Haman tried to kill us, thinking that our story was over, but this down was followed by an up and was therefore part of the up. We ended up with a whole new holiday. Another milestone in our storied relationship with G-d.

May we soon herald the coming of Moshiach and experience the day that will make all days good.

[1] Exodus 40: 38. See Rashi and L’Torah U’Lmoadim by rabbi Shlomo Yosef Zevin, ibid.

[2] Exodus 39:32. See Divrei Yiosroel ibid.