And the reason was because Hashem wanted to perfect His beloved children.
Hashem had the whole set-up with the Mishkan (a complex & intricate building) and also the establishment of 3 tremendous teacher-leaders (Moshe Rabbeinu, Aharon HaKohen, and Miriam HaNeviah), the likes of which Am Yisrael hasn't seen since.
Grouped together in the Midbar, Am Yisrael could see their teacher-leaders every day.
Am Yisrael worshiped together. They learned how to get along together and underwent the great lesson in emunah brought about by the mann.
Once in Eretz Yisrael, they'd be obligated to spread out to their individual territories of inheritance — many very far from their tremendous teacher-leaders & the Mishkan.
But before they merited to settle the ENTIRE Land, they needed to establish their holy ways & their holy Nationhood first.
Our Goal is to be Truly Beautiful
And Hashem intended for the 40-year sojourn in the desert to beautify the Yisrael soul even more — to its full potential as much as possible.
On pages 10-11, Rav Miller emphasizes a core fundamental within Judaism, as expressed in Chovot Halevavot: Our goal is to find favor in Hashem's Eyes.
We want Hashem to love us.
Of course, Hashem always loves us.
But we want Him to be pleased with us too.
Who Really Deserves Honor?
With all the recent fracas going on around America's monuments, Rav Miller notes that most people take them for granted (when they're not being made an issue of by extremists). They serve as doggie restrooms & homeless shelters, and most people barely notice the statue as they pass by.
And it's worth reading his observations about monuments, artists, and writers on page 11.
We live in a backwards society in which people think that if:
- your painting hangs in a museum
- your name is mentioned in the media
- you attract thousands of followers
- you win a bajillion "likes"
- your book sits in the window display of a book store
- you receive the Nobel prize
- you receive a standing ovation from a huge audience after a performance...
...then that's an honor. You've made it!
Regarding a music performance before a stadium audience of 70,000, Rav Miller remarks (page 14):
It's as meaningless as could be! An hour later it's all over.
They go home and forget about you.
And even if they'll think about you, you know what it’s like?
It’s like 70,000 germs in this square foot of rug in front of you applauding you.
If 70,000 germs in the rug are applauding you, would you be excited?
Imagine they're applauding you right now. What does it mean? Nothing at all.
But no, says Rav Miller.
An image of a real hero should feature a guy with a beard & a black hat.
An image of a real heroine is not the woman in make-up & heels excelling in judo, but rather the woman "pushing two babies in a carriage, with six older children holding on."
These are the people who deserve kavod.
Yes, we should honor good Jews with good middot who live their lives for Hashem, regardless of how mundane their tasks seem to the outside world of flash & sparkle.
The Kugel Principle
That's when we'll receive the real kavod — the only kavod that matters: Hashem's Kavod.
This World is erev Shabbat; it's all about preparation.
The Next World is Shabbat; we get to enjoy the fruits of all our efforts — the scrumptious taste & rich flavor of all our good deeds & good thoughts.
As the Chafetz Chaim once said (page 14):