This week’s Torah portion is Pekudei, the last Torah portion of the Book of Exodus, which immediately precedes Vayikra, the first Torah portion of the Book of Leviticus.
Accordingly, an intrinsic connection exists between the two:
At the end of Pekudei, we are told that a cloud descended upon the Sanctuary. The purpose of a cloud is to conceal; the cloud prevented Moses from entering the Sanctuary.
The theme of Vayikra, by contrast, is a revelation. “G-d called to Moses” – to reveal Himself to him.
Thus, the revelation of Vayikra follows the concealment of Pekudei. And a revelation which comes after concealment is much more obvious than one which occurs without prior concealment.
In the service of man, the revelation that follows a period of concealment is teshuva (repentance; literally “return”). Before the person did teshuva he was estranged from G-d, distanced from His Torah and mitzvot (commandments), i.e., in a state of concealment. His act of teshuva, his return to G-d, constitutes the revelation.
Indeed, we find that Jews who repent of past misdeeds (baalei teshuva) merit a higher revelation of G-dliness than those who were always righteous! For the revelation which follows concealment is a more exalted one.
When a person does teshuva, his “deliberate sins are considered as merits.” As our Sages declared: “In the place where penitents stand, even the completely righteous cannot.” The righteous person is successful in completely banishing evil. But a baal teshuva, someone who returns to G-d with all his heart, transforms the evil he has done into good – so much so that even his deliberate sins are considered as merits! By doing teshuva, he turns darkness into light. This is the revelation that follows the concealment.
What can we learn from this? That regardless of our present spiritual condition we must never despair! We must never think that our spiritual state is so lowly that no hope exists. On the contrary: It is precisely after a period of concealment that the highest revelation of G-dliness is possible!
Past generations of Jews were on a much higher spiritual level than our own, but they were further removed from the Redemption. Our generation, however, is the generation of Moshiach’s coming. Because the greatest revelation of the Redemption follows the lowest descent, we must take heart and strengthen ourselves in advance of the light about to break forth. In this manner, we will soon merit the true and complete Redemption – the revelation that follows the concealment – when “the night will illuminate as the day.”