Parshat Ki Tisa: Searching
וּמֹשֶׁה֩ יִקַּ֨ח אֶת־הָאֹ֜הֶל וְנָֽטָה־ל֣וֹ ׀ מִח֣וּץ לַֽמַּחֲנֶ֗ה הַרְחֵק֙ מִן־הַֽמַּחֲנֶ֔ה וְקָ֥רָא ל֖וֹ אֹ֣הֶל מוֹעֵ֑ד וְהָיָה֙ כׇּל־מְבַקֵּ֣שׁ יְהֹוָ֔ה יֵצֵא֙ אֶל־אֹ֣הֶל מוֹעֵ֔ד אֲשֶׁ֖ר מִח֥וּץ לַֽמַּחֲנֶֽה׃
Moses would take the Tent and pitch it outside the camp, at some distance from the camp. It was called the Tent of Meeting, and whoever sought God would go out to the Tent of Meeting that was outside the camp.
A story is told of a little girl who would run into the nearby woods to pray. She would do this so often that her mother would lose track if she was at home or in the woods. One afternoon, frustrated that her daughter was not at home, the mother took to the woods in search of her daughter. She found her in a quiet, grassy clearing, eyes closed in contemplation. “Why do you come here to pray?” the mother asked. “God is everywhere, so why do you need to come here? Surely God is just as much at our home as here.” Her daughter replied, “It’s true that God is everywhere, and in that case this place is no different than our home. But when I come to the woods, I am different.”
Why do we go to shul? Why do seek places of beauty like a mountain top, or find connection at places like the Western Wall, when God is everywhere? At the dedication of the first temple, King Soloman himself proclaimed that God’s presence pervaded the whole universe when he said “even the highest heaven, cannot contain you. How much less this temple I have built!”
Though God is everywhere, there are places where we are different – places where our eyes see differently, our ears hear differently, and our heart opens wider. For those on a spiritual journey, we can take a lesson from this. God is always closer than we think, but sometimes we need to move outside the camp to have the heart to understand.