Translation by Yehoshua Siskin
The word "elections" came back into our lives in Israel yesterday and together with it the words "after the elections." These are magic words for "postponement" because, for the next four months, it will no longer be the appropriate time for anything other than following surveys, polls, and campaigns.
The Book of Numbers presents a different frame of mind. Just as we say "after the elections," "after the holidays," "after graduation," the Nation of Israel could have said "after the desert." First let's reach the Promised Land and then we can start doing what we are supposed to do.
But in the Torah portions that we are currently reading, it is noted time and again that as soon as the people arrived at a new place, they immediately erected the MIshkan, the people's spiritual center and beating heart. Sometimes they camped in a particular location for a brief period and sometimes for many years. But as soon as they were commanded to move on, they quickly disassembled the MIshkan and looked forward expectantly to setting it up again at their next stop along the way.
Our commentators explain that we can learn an important lesson from this: We cannot be frozen in time while anticipating some future development. Even while moving through life, despite the many ups and downs, we need to fully utilize each moment to do what is most important to us, to build our own personal "MIshkan" of Torah, education, volunteerism, community, and work (not to neglect the importance of voting and being involved in the political process). The most important thing we can do is to strengthen the stabilizing foundation stones of our existence, despite the tumultuous circumstances around us.
The Book of Numbers reminds us that we have no idea how much time we have and therefore it is critically important to act now, the approaching elections notwithstanding.