I am on the way

Thursday, 8 July, 2021 - 2:54 am

 “I am on the way.” A short sentence that I say, or, rather, send by SMS, a few times a day.

What meaning does the “way” have? Is it just a means to get from one point to another, or does it have an inherent meaning and purpose? Forty-two journeys are summarized in this week’s Parsha; forty-two stops that the Jewish People made during their forty years in the wilderness, starting from the Exodus from Egypt and ending in the Promised Land.

The stops were very different from one another. In one of them the people said, “Everything that Hashem said, we shall do and we shall hear,” and received the Torah. At another, they complained to Moshe, saying “If only we had died in the land of Egypt, or in this wilderness – if only we had died.”

One way or another, each one of the forty-two stops was an important part of the Jewish people’s journey on their way to becoming Hashem’s nation, chosen to bring the holiness of Torah and Mitzvot into this world.

That is the reason that the Parsha is not called Chanayot (stops), but Masei (journeys) – because every stage of the traveling, with all its ups and downs, was significant in terms of the forming of the Jewish People’s character.

Rabbi Yisrael Ba’al Shem Tov said this week, over 250 years ago, that every person – just like the Jewish People in the wilderness – goes through forty-two journeys, adding up to one long personal voyage. And like the Jewish People’s travels, our travels include ups and downs, all of which – the downs as well – are important to the forming of our characters.

So if yesterday you slipped and fell, and feel terrible, remember: that slip is just one more journey, one of the forty-two you have to go through as you move towards the Promised Land. And there is only one crucial condition: You must not to wallow in your downs; you are obligated to get up and go on.

Another point: When the people were in the wilderness, some of the stops lasted many long years, and others – only one day. In our own personal journeys, as well, there are processes that take years, and others that occur in the space of a few days. So it’s a good idea to be patient.


Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Zalmen Wishedski

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