Desert Travel

Parshat נשא continues with the special תפקיד, or role of the three Levite families, גרשון קהת and מררי. They were to carry the curtains, the beams, and the holy vessels.

Moshe Rabbeinu had special עגלות, or wagons made for גרשון and מררי to transport the beams and curtains. However, the holy vessels had to be carried by the קהת family. The Torah says בכתף ישאו, that it had to be carried on their shoulders.

We also find that עגלות were mentioned when transporting Yakov Avinu to Egypt, as directed by Yosef. This would further emphasize that Yakov was a living sacred being.

Rabbi Soloveitchik notes that it was forbidden to watch the wrapping of the holy vessels. It was meant to be a רמז to the importance of צניעות, modesty.

It is interesting to note all of the symbolism that is learned from the Torah, even when giving details of how the Jews traveled in the desert.