I wrote this right before I left seminary Israel:
In פרשת בהעלתך פרק ט פסוקים טו-כג the פסוק describes the נסיעות of בני ישראל. When the עננים would lift off the משכן, they knew it was time to leave, and when they would stop, בני ישראל knew it was time to set up their camps. As the פסוק describes it, בני ישראל never knew how long their stop would be. Sometimes it would be for a short time, even just overnight, while at others, they stayed for years.
Imagine you were of that דור- you've been traveling for who knows how long, and then finally, you get the signal to stop. You start setting up camp, doing all the bothersome tasks that come along with it: pitching the tent, unpacking, setting up the furniture, preparing supper (whatever that entailed with the מן) etc. Finally, everything is ready. You eat your שליו and then go to sleep, luxuriating in you non-travel bed. You wake up in the morning, ready to face the day in your new home. Just as you're about to finish gathering the מן for the day, you see that the עננים lifted off the משכן. It's time to leave. You have to go back to your tent, say goodbye to your bed, repack everything onto your donkeys, dismantle the tent, and get on the road again. After this scenario repeated itself a few times, you wouldn't even bother unpacking. You would live out of a suitcase, sleep on a travel bed, and every morning you'd check to see if the עננים had lifted. Even if the camp hadn't moved for a few years, you'd still be checking every morning. Of course, as soon as you'd stayed in one camp long enough to stop checking every morning and unpack, that morning the
ענניםwould lift and you'd have to repack everything again.
It was a life lived day-by-day. They couldn't plan ahead because they didn't know where they'd be the next day. Yet never do we find that they complained about this aspect of traveling, though about other things, they did. How can this be?
The answer lies in the לשון that the פסוק uses in conjunction with this. "על פי ד יסעו ועל פי ד יחנו" This phrase is repeated a number of times, emphasizing its importance. But what does it tell us? The ספורנו comments that the main part is the על פי ד. They didn't decide where to camp based on their own perception of the place. Rather, every time they stopped, it was על פי ד - by Hashem's command. Even if there was a better camping spot a few yards away, they would only camp where Hashem told them to camp. Additionally, if they were in a perfect place for only a short time, when the __ would let them know it was time to go, they went. They lived each day as it came, full of אמונה and בטחון that Hashem would take care of them.
Each of us came to seminary with dreams of how she wanted it to be. We unpacked, got comfortable, set up our rooms to our liking, enjoyed our thick, American mattresses, and had an amazingly inspiring year. But now it's time to move on. Our personal עננים are lifting off our home for the past year and drifting to places unknown. Much as we plan our lives, how much do we really know of what will be? How can we know where we'll be next year or next month; even where we'll be tomorrow is out of our hands. But we have to remember to live על פי ד. Hashem is guiding our every step, making sure it's the right one. Everything we do has to be על פי ד. Whether getting a job, getting married, furthering our education, or all of the above, everything we do has to be על פי ד and only על פי ד.
As we leave seminary for real life, ארץ ישראל for חוץ לארץ, we have to realize, and truly feel, that Hashem is with us anywhere we are and in everything we do. We're going into our own מדבר, a place lacking the רוחניות potential we've had at our fingertips this year. But Hashem is with us, guiding us as He guided that generation. If we live with אמונה and בטחון as they did, we'll be able to live happy lives, safe in Hashem's hands and בעזרת ד be זוכה for the גאולה.