Thanks to modern technology one would expect that the ordinary person should become more aware and sensitive to Hashem’s creation. Take for instance the clouds in the sky. Who would ever think of them at all if it wasn’t after a forecast of cloudy skies followed by a downpour. However, thanks to Apple’s iCloud which comes to remind us more frequently of Hashem’s miraculous clouds even when we are indoors. But that focus on the heavenly clouds will only take place if one allows himself to erroneously think that iCloud, which stores one’s information, data, files, and pictures, is based somewhere upwards in the heavens maybe on a huge satellite. However, most tech people who are in the know realize that the name iCloud has nothing to do with heaven. After all, Maiden North Carolina is not a city built in the sky. Therefore I have come to the conclusion that the name iCloud ranks with the same expression as “your head is in the clouds” which also is not to be taken in the literal sense and it also doesn’t direct you to the heavens.
“Man-made” clouds really don’t inspire one to think of Hashem after all, especially if the cloud is one that is preceded with the letter I which symbolizes self and earthiness. Don’t let yourself be deceived by the small letter i replacing the more grammatically correct capital I preceding the Cloud. Don’t interpret its dwarfed structure as a moral message to say that I phone usage will make your I more humble, i. The bottom line is that even a small i still remains a self-centered i and not yet a u. Apple’s motive and goal is clear; to make one self-indulgent and absorbed with the i, period. Selfie and selfish belong to the same club called vanity. סלף (self) are the letters of פסל an idol. Unbridled egotism makes oneself into an avodah zara which he worships.
In this week’s parsha we encounter another type of cloud of a very different nature and of an incredible spiritual magnitude. It too like our modern day innovation was a cloud that was not positioned in the sky but one that descended upon earth and filled the Mishkan with Hashem’s glory. It was a cloud in which the Shechinah of Hashem was covered. It descended immediately after the building of the Mishkan was completed. It followed the beracha that Moshe gave to Klal Yisrael that Hashem should rest His presence upon the achievement of the Mishkan construction.
Subsequent the descent of the Shechinah, the passuk says ולא יכול משה לבוא אל אהל מועד כי שכן עליו הענן וכבוד ה’ מלא את המשכן Moshe was not able to enter the Tent because the honor of Hashem filled every part of the Mishkan. The gemarah in Yuma 4b however asks a contradiction. It says here that Moshe could not enter the cloud that contained the Shechinah. Yet we find (Shmos 24,18) that Moshe did enter the cloud that concealed the Shechinah on HarSinai ויבא משה בתוך הענן ושם האלקים? One answer the gemarah gives is that שתפסו הקב”ה למשה והביאו בענן  that Hashem grabbed Moshe and brought him into the cloud. The Bais Medrash of Rabbe Yishmael answered differently that Hashem at Har Sinai made a pathway through the cloud for Moshe to enter just as He made a pathway through the Yam Suf for Bnei Yisrael to cross.
We would like to suggest that these two answers to not differ from each other but rather complement one another. Chazal in their combined answer give us great insight to differentiate between the two clouds that are down on earth and allow entry for man. iCloud is free, and an upgrade starts with merely .99 a month a bargain. No sweat, a breeze, all that is needed is the initial simple sign up, and from then on the storage will be uploaded for you automatically.
Not so when it comes to entering the cloud of Hashem. To have an intimate encounter with the Shechinah, which is tantamount to having shamayin on aretz, one needs two prerequisites. One, a miracle like Kerias Yam Suf has to happen, the supernatural making of a pathway. Yet that miracle only occurred because Nachshon Ben Aminadav jumped into the waters willing to sacrifice his life to fulfill the words of Hashem. That allusion of the necessity of mesirasnefesh in order to merit an intimate encounter with the Cloud of the Shechinah, was already hinted to in the Shira of Kerias Yam Suf (Shmos 15,17) מכון לשבתך פעלת ה’  a foundation for your dwelling place You made. To benefit from the Shechinah Cloud there is a big price to pay בכל לבבך ובכל נפשך ובכל מאדך. But the Shechinah Cloud experience is one that transcends this world and contacts the next one of eternity. In reality, it is a very tiny price to pay for such an everlasting other worldly rendezvous with Hashem.
The second perquisite is that even after the mesiras nefesh and nullification of your desires to Hashem’s, one must feel no entitlement of deserving such a sublime experience. One must feel as if he is forcibly seized into the cloud by Hashem even though he is unworthy of such an encounter of intimacy. This is hinted in the word ענו humility. If one possesses true humbleness then he will merit that the letter of vov from the word ענו will be elongated to spellענן , cloud, which includes the final letter ן which symbolizes the pathway enabling the humble to enter.
If one fulfills these two requirements then he merits to have Hashem make for him this pathway to the Shechinah and forge that very close bond to Him as Am Yisrael experienced at Yam Suf. It was there during their crossing of the Sea through this miraculous pathway, that they pointed with their finger declaring זה אלי ואנוהו this is my G-d and I will build for the Him a Mikdash to dwell in (Onkeles). With mesiras nefesh one can enter the Shechinah Cloud. For the word ואנוהו which consists of two words אני והוא (Shabbos 133b Rashi) says it all. The i Cloud is all about oneself to the point that its users don’t talk to other people anymore. The Cloud of the Shechinah requires one to change from the אני, the I, and look to the הוא, he, an outsider besides yourself and see how you can benefit him. Look outside yourself and see how can I give to Hashem נחת רוח. This is also how one emulates Hashem עולם חסד יבנה(Shabbos 133b Abba Shaul).
The Chizkuni in the first passuk of the Torah writes said that the word אדני , which translates as Hashem My master, is found 134 times in the Torah a”k. The name אדני spells the word אני I ,and the letter דלית which means to decrease. The way in which one makes Hashem into his master is to minimize the אני. The gematria of 134 is קלד pronounced cloud. A deep and personal relationship with the Master of the Universe is developed and formed when one merits entering His Cloud.
The episode of Hashem’s Cloud descending to the Mishkan is with what we end the sefer of Shmos the sefer of the geulah (see introduction of Ramban to Shmos). It is to this merit of entering His Cloud we declare out loudחזק חזק ונתחזק !
– Rav Brazil
Gut Shabbos