Holy Camp! by Gavriel Metzger


In a seemingly puzzling statement in Parshat Naso, the Torah relates that all people who were afflicted with Tzaraat had leave the camp of Bnei Yisrael because “Ani Shochen Betocham,” “I [Hashem] am resting amongst them” (5:3).  Rashi comments on the surrounding Pesukim that these edicts were decreed on the day of the inauguration of the Mishkan.  An obvious question arises: what does building the Mishkan have to do with sending out Tzaraat-afflicted people from the camp?

The Alshich notes that Bnei Yisrael encamped in three separate rings while in the desert.  The Mishkan with the Shechinah rested in the center, Shevet Levi surrounded the Mishkan, and all of Bnei Yisrael were split up into a ring of four sections that encircled the inner two camps.  Due to this fact, one might assume that Hashem was only present within His temporary home, the Mishkan, and perhaps also the Leviim, who worked in the Mishkan.  One would not logically think that the Shechinah rested elsewhere; why would there be three separate divisions otherwise?  The juxtaposition of Tzaraat and the building the Mishkan teaches us otherwise.  Hashem told Moshe to send the Tzaraat-stricken group completely outside of the camp in order to display the Kedushah of the entire encampment of Am Yisrael.  Even the outermost section of the camp had the Shechinah resting amid it, and therefore the Tumah of the Tzaraat had to be completely removed. 

A powerful lesson about the Kedushah of every member of Bnei Yisrael can be derived from these Pesukim.  No matter how big or small, “ultra-Orthodox” or “Reform,” every member of Am Yisrael has Hashem’s presence around him.  Although there might be a higher concentration of Hashem’s presence among some, such as the Leviim in the Midbar, all members of Klal Yisrael have a certain level of Kedushah.  We must be cognizant of this fact in all that we do and treat everyone with the respect that he or she rightly deserves.

-Adapted from a Dvar Torah in Talelei Oros

Torah Times Two by Shmuel Reece

Wholly Holy? by Jeremy Jaffe