Parshat Bechukosai contains within it one of the two “rebukes” that we receive as a warning of what will happen if we don’t follow the Torah and mitzvos, and then are told what our reward will be if we do. Included in this reward is:
vihitchalti bitochechem – “I (Hashem) will walk among you” (Leviticus 26:12)
Back in Parshas Terumah however Hashem told us that He will:
vishachanti bitocham – “I will dwell in your midst” (Exodus 25:8)
Why the change from dwelling, to walking?
The Seforno writes that because we were all together in the desert, Hashem was able to “dwell” there, but when we got to Israel and spread out all over the country, Hashem “walked” to visit each of us, and the Ramban writes that once we entered the state of Israel, Hashem wanted to remind everybody from everywhere that he was our king by walking through the entire land and visiting everybody. The Torah learning that I have experienced while living in Israel is incomparable to anything else. You get a mitzvah just for walking every few steps in the holy land!
While both of these ideas are very nice, I always thought there might be a different angle from which to answer this question. While we were in the desert, and Hashem dwelled, we really dwelled as well. Yes, we traveled. But we didn’t have to think so much. He had everything there ready for us. The manna was our food, the cloud protected us. We lived a good life. But that life is not as rewarding as a life of working towards what you earn. That’s why, now, we transition to walking. Walking is active movement, not passive. A person earns every step he takes, because he puts effort into taking that step. That’s the lesson here. If we work hard and try to follow the commandments even when the manna stops falling and the cloud isn’t there to protect us – if we “walk” rather than dwell, so will Hashem. And in Deuteronomy (28:9) we are told:
vihalachta bidrachav – “and you should walk in His path.”
That we should follow in the ways of Hashem and that we have an actual commandment to try and emulate Him. I worked so hard to be able to come to Eretz Yisrael this year that I appreciated every good thing that much more that happened. I actively searched out scholarships and actively filled out forms in order to make my dream happen. I think as well there might be some “midah kineged midah,” here. If we work hard to make sure that we walk in the path of Hashem and follow His commandments even when we are out in the real world and all of our needs are not necessarily being handed to us on a silver platter, then He will also walk among us.
It’s a beautiful lesson to internalize, that if we try to walk in the ways of Hashem, He will come to us to walk among us. Have an excellent Shabbos.
Student studying in Sharfmans