Parsha Matot-Masei - Bemidbar/Numbers 30:1 - 36:13
The past week has been very challenging. A few disappointments. A few struggles. All while beginning the Three Weeks of mourning leading up to the 9th of Av.
Yet, at the same time, we're planning our celebration for the Festival of Wine (the grape harvest), a festive and joyous occasion!
Such is life - highs and lows, fast and slow, ups and downs, stops and starts, moving and standing. It's all part of the journey of life.
This seems to be true for everyone, but it’s especially true for the Yahudi(te). A Yahudi’s life is to journey, both physically and spiritually. It began with Abraham and continued for all his descendants.
Parsha Masei begins,
Bemidbar/Numbers 33:1-2 “These are the departures of the children of Yisra’ĕl, who went out of the land of Mitsrayim by their divisions under the hand of Mosheh and Aharon.
(2) And Mosheh wrote down the starting points of their departures at the command of יהוה, and these are their departures according to their starting points: ”
Yisra’el’s entire 40-year journey from Mitsrayim to Eretz Yisrael (Egypt to the Land of Israel) is recorded as a series of departures and encampments. Every stop along the way is recorded, even the ones that are seemingly insignificant.
Because the journey is important.
The journey is just as important as the destination itself. We see it here in the Torah. The entire book of Bemidbar is dedicated to Yisrael’s journey, and this listing of all the departures and encampments (42 in all) proves just how important the journey is.
We learned a few weeks ago that the reason Yisrael spent 40 years in the wilderness was because they lacked belief in Elohim, emunah, to enter the Promised Land. The 40-year trek was their punishment for unbelief.
But if we leave it at that, we miss an important point about the journey. Perhaps, if we use the word “discipline” rather than “punishment,” we’ll get a better understanding.
Discipline is a means of instruction. When a child is disciplined, it’s not merely to inflict pain and suffering on the child. It’s to teach him something. The child has to learn what he is not to do and what behavior is expected of him.
So, too, with YAHUAH and Yisrael. YAHUAH disciplined Yisrael throughout the 40-year journey. The whole journey was a series of lessons preparing Yisrael to enter the Land. The journey lasted that long because that’s how long it took for Yisrael to be ready to inherit the Promise.
All of it had a purpose. The entire journey was important.
If it was just a 40-year punishment with no real purpose other than to inflict suffering, then there would be no need to mention each and every stop along the way.
Every departure and encampment is mentioned because each moment of the journey was purposeful. Whether they were departing or camping, whether something good or something “bad” happened, whether it was significant or seemingly inconsequential - every moment counted. Every moment mattered because all was conducted by YAHUAH, the Elohim of Yisrael.
YAH planned everything. It wasn’t a haphazard journey. YAHUAH was in control of all. He designed Yisrael’s journey in such a way as to prepare them to enter the Land and inherit it. It was all His plan. At the end - when they were ready, they did what they were called and chosen to do, inherit the Promised Land.
That’s what we have to remember in this journey we call life. YAHUAH is in control of all. Don’t for a second think something “just happened” or “it was a coincidence” or even, “I made such-and-such happen.”
YAHUAH is Sovereign. He’s in control of our lives. Like it or not, acknowledge Him or not - He’s in control. He’s in charge of all the highs and lows, all the stops and starts, all the moving and standing. It’s His plan.
So, don’t look at life as an endless wandering with no goal or purpose. That’s not YAH’s plan for you. He has a purpose. He has a destination, and He has a plan to get you there. As long as you allow Him to be your Elohim, He will lead you and guide you all along the way.
Even when we don’t understand what’s going on. Even when it seems like we’re going nowhere. Even if no matter how much we try to depart, we’re still camped, or if we’re headed for one place but end up in another. It’s all His plan. We are right where we need to be.
Every moment of our life is significant, whether we realize it or not. Our entire journey is tailor-made to get us where we need to be, to prepare us for the next stage in our life.
It took Yisrael 40 years - and YAHUAH never left them.
They went through some hard times - but YAHUAH never left them.
In the end, they had the emunah (faith) they needed to inherit the Promise.
It takes emunah to know He’s still with you after so much time has passed.
It takes emunah to know He’s still with you in the dark moments.
It takes emunah to know He’s still leading even when you don’t know where you’re going or how you’re going to get there.
It doesn’t matter how long the journey may be or how hard it may get. As long as we keep our eyes on YAH, He will never leave us. Even when it’s difficult, He’s with us. We’re not left alone wandering aimlessly through life.
Life itself is not a punishment. It’s a journey tailor-made for each of us. He leads us the entire way, preparing us and molding us into who He needs us to be - people of faith.