Proper Preparation by Ilan Griboff


The record of Bnei Yisrael’s arrival in Midbar Sinai contains a very strange repetition. In one Pasuk, “BaChodesh HaShlishi…Ba’u Midbar Sinai” “In the third month...the came to Midbar Sinai” (19:1), yet the next Pasuk states “VaYisu MeRefidim VaYavo’u Midbar Sinai…” “And they traveled from Refidim and they came to Midbar Sinai” (19:2). Rashi, noting that the second mention of the arrival includes Bnei Yisrael’s previous encampment, asks, why it was necessary to repeat that they entered Midbar Sinai with the place that they came from? The Torah previously relayed that Bnei Yisrael encamped in Refidim, so would it not be logical to infer that the location they traveled from to arrive in Midbar Sinai was Refidim? Rashi explains that it was necessary to state the departure from Refidim along with the arrival at Midbar Sinai to create a connection between the two. Just as when they entered Midbar Sinai, they were performing Teshuva to prepare for Matan Torah, so too when they left Refidim, they were preparing for Matan Torah. The Mechilta offers a similar explanation: just as they entered Midbar Sinai in order to receive the Torah, so too when they left Refidim, they left with the intentions of receiving the Torah.

This information teaches us a valuable lesson. Whenever we prepare for a spiritual experience we must have proper intent throughout the entire preparation. This is why, when one is performing preparatory actions for the sake of Shabbat, one should have the intent that one is preparing for Shabbat. Another example is when one ties the knots on Tzitzit or prepares the leather for Tefillin, he must bear in mind that the action is being performed for the sake of a Mitzvah. A notable example of an individual’s intense intent during his preparation can be found in the Gemara, Bava Metziah 85b, when Rabi Chiya once decided that he wanted to make sure that the Torah wouldn’t be forgotten, so he planted flax. When the flax was grown, he wove the flax into nets to catch deer. When he caught deer, he slaughtered them, gave their meat to the poor, and used their skins to write Sifrei Torah. But with each action, he made sure to have the intent that it was for the sake of a Sefer Torah and its Mitzvot. Why did he need to do this? Because by having every action performed in the creation of a Torah for the sake of a Torah, he caused the Sefer Torah to become even more Kadosh so that it couldn’t possibly be forgotten.

Hearing the Call by Moe Weiss

Preparations for Matan Torah by Tzvi Atkin